Punchestown Festival: Trainer Jessica Harrington has revealed that Friday’s brilliant Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John will have one more start this season in the €250,000 G1 Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday 26th April.

The seven-year-old scored in fantastic style at Cheltenham and Harrington is delighted that he will round off his campaign at her local course.

Harrington commented: “Sizing John has come out of his Cheltenham race very well and we were obviously thrilled with how everything went. So we have decided that our next step is to go to the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup at the end of April.”

A fantastic clash is on the cards for the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup with the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree, trained in England by Mark Bradstock, likely to travel over.

It was a record-breaking week for Ireland at the Cheltenham Festival with 19 winners and Sizing John is just one of many of those set to appear at the Punchestown Festival, alongside a sizeable raiding party from Britain.

Willie Mullins announced that the Punchestown Festival will be the aim for most of the Cheltenham runners and he is expected to have a string of star names on show.

Among those set to appear at Punchestown are Un De Sceaux, a superb winner of the Ryanair Chase, who could step back to two miles for the G1 BoyleSports Champion Chase on Tuesday 25th April. That race is likely to also be the target for Henry de Bromhead’s superb Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Special Tiara.

Nichols Canyon, winner of the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham, is being aimed by Mullins at the G1 Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown on Thursday 27th April. The gutsy Lil Rockefeller, who finished second to Nichols Canyon at Cheltenham for trainer Neil King, could reoppose at Punchestown.

Further interest is set to be added to the €250,000 contest by last year’s winner One Track Mind, who trainer Warren Greatrex has kept fresh for a return visit to Punchestown.

Yorkhill, who looked a Gold Cup horse of the future when winning the JLT Novices’ Chase, is also set to line up at Punchestown for Mullins as is Penhill, winner of the G1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Like Mullins, trainer Gordon Elliott saddled six winners at Cheltenham and many of those are on course for Punchestown including the brilliant mare Apple’s Jade, who captured the G1 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle. Mullins also plans to run Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini, who finished second and third at Cheltenham, at Punchestown.

Further spice will be added to this year’s festival as Elliott, currently with a lead of around €360,000, bids to beat Willie Mullins to his first trainers’ title. The Irish season finishes on the final day of the Festival, Saturday 29th April.

Meanwhile, trainer Harry Fry is a big supporter of the Punchestown Festival and he is considering sending over Neon Wolf, who was beaten a head when a hot favourite for the G1 Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. Fry has several other Punchestown possibles including exciting novice hurdler Minella Awards.

Richie Galway, Racing Manager at Punchestown, commented: “It was an unforgettable Cheltenham Festival for Ireland with 19 winners and we are delighted that so many of them are planning to reappear next month at the Punchestown Festival, not least of course Sizing John.

“Punchestown has undergone the first phase of a major redevelopment project in preparation for this year’s Festival. Combine this with record levels of prize money, possibly the strongest Irish team of the modern era and a powerful group of British raiders and we are in for a very exciting five days from the 25th to 29th April.”

There is record prize money of €2.9 million at this year’s Punchestown Festival, running from Tuesday 25th April to Saturday 29th April. Prize money has increased 33% since 2013.

 

Sarah Elsley

Sarah Elsley is a freelance editor and proofreader who is the Junior News Editor for Eclipse magazine. She has a degree in English Literature and is a keen horse rider with an interest in fashion at the races and fiction writing.

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