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  • Punchestown Best Bets (): Willie Mullins Targets Festival One Two With Embassy Gardens And Sharjah

Punchestown best bets (1800): Willie Mullins targets Festival one-two with Embassy Gardens and Sharjah

It might be a quiet Tuesday at the races in the UK, but it’s a huge day over in Ireland, where this competitive novices’ chase offers one of the best contests on day one of the Punchestown Festival.

18:00 Punchestown: Dooleys Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase (3 miles 1 furlong)

The early betting market has this down as a three-horse race, with Monty’s Star the favourite to land an early blow for the Henry De Bromhead/Rachael Blackmore partnership.

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The likeable seven-year-old won easily over three miles here on New Year’s Eve, and was comfortably the best of the rest behind the imperious Fact To File in the Brown Advisory at the Cheltenham Festival, with the re-opposing American Mike trailing in a distant fifth.

His main threat is likely to come from Embassy Gardens, and not many would back against Willie Mullins and Paul Townend continuing their domination with a horse that was far from disgraced in coming second behind Corbetts Cross at Cheltenham seven weeks ago.

Suggested best bet: Embassy Gardens in the 18:00 at Punchestown


Spillane’s Tower completes the leading trio, although he has yet to attempt anything like this extended three-mile trip, so there has to be a question mark over his stamina in the expected yielding conditions.

There appear to be enough question marks to suggest that those market principals will not finish 1-2-3, which opens the door for some each-way value among their five rivals.

While the four carrying double-digit prices look tempting, it is current 8/1 shot Sharjah that has caught the collective eye of a host of Tipstrr’s each-way pundits.

Second string or not, any Mullins horse merits serious consideration these days, and this game 11-year-old mare is no exception, having made a belated switch to chasing following a productive hurdling career that included two runner-up spots in the Champion Hurdle (behind Epatante in 2020 and Honeysuckle in 2021).

Suggested best bet: Sharjah each-way in the 18:00 at Punchestown

After winning her first attempt over fences at Galway last summer, she kicked off her winter campaign in similar fashion at Tipperary, and after three less impressive displays in much stronger Grade 1 company, she took advantage of a drop in class to land a three-mile handicap at Ayr 10 days ago.

Paul Townend was on board for each of those three wins, and it could be seen as a negative that Mullins’ premier jockey has opted for Sharjah’s stablemate here, as also might the quick turnaround, although the Master of Closutton is unlikely to send his mare out if he felt there were any ill effects from that recent Scottish outing.

Indeed, having won that first attempt over a three-mile trip, her lack of exposure over this longer distance could well see her go to post under the radar here, and she is sure to be given every chance in the hands of Danny Mullins.

This capable jockey has piloted the winners of both the Scottish Grand National (MacDermott 17/2) and the Sandown Gold Cup (Minella Cocooner 18/1) for his Uncle Willie over the last 10 days, and might yet make Townend rue his decision at another tasty price.



READ MORE: Punchestown racing tips: Best bets for Tuesday April 30

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