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Nic Ladds 23rd Apr 2009 - 11:06

A look ahead: The Punchestown Festival

Get ready for a fantastic five days of racing that comes in the shape of the Punchestown Festival.

The Irish equivalent of the Cheltenham Festival has a similar format with 10 Grade 1 races spread over the five days and a feature race each day.

The first day includes the Evening Herald Champions Novice Hurdle in which the likes of Cousin Vinny and Paul Nicholls' America Trilogy collide for the prize.

The Kerrygold Champion Chase features Arkle winner Forpadydeplasterer and Big Zeb who recovered from his Champion Chase fall to win last time out and should give another good account.

Day two sees the Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup take place with some of the biggest names in chasing taking each other on yet again.

Runners entered for this include Ryanair Chase winner Imperial Commander who takes on Air Force One and Albertas Run again like he did in the King George.

Former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition is also entered along with multiple Irish winners Notre Pere and Cooldine.

The Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle on day 3 has Willie Mullins playing one of his strongest hands with winner of his last five races Mikael D'Haguenet potentially taking on Serpentaria who has won 6 of his last 7 races.

Throw in English interest in the shape of Blazing Bailey, Lough Derg and Punchestowns to name but a few and you have one of the most exciting races of the meeting.

The Cathal Ryan Novice Steeplechase looks perfect for likely favourite Tatenen who is entered along with Free World and Oumeyade for the Nicholls stable.

Aran Concerto and Alan King's Oh Crick are just two that could line up in opposition to challenge the likely favourite.

The fourth day has a whole host of entries from Noel Meade for the Rabobank Champion Hurdle. Jazz Messenger and Jered are just two of this host of entries.

Former Champion Hurdle winners Brave Inca, Hardy Eustace and Sublimity all hold entries, as does Sizing Europe who looks to make amends for a so far disappointing season.

Most eagerly anticipated of all is the fact that this year's winner of the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle Punjabi is entered with many wanting to see if it was a fluke and if he can again have the beating of the older generation of hurdlers.

The final day lets the youngsters demonstrate their skills. The Ballymore Champion 4-y-o hurdle sees the finest four year olds around take each other on for a big prize.

Cheltenham Festival second Ski Sunday and Paul Nicholls' Hebridean are the two most lively English entries but they will find stiff competition in the shape of Ebadiyan was going well in the Triumph Hurdle before running off the course.

This is one of the most exciting five days racing has to offer and the whole of the Irish racing community comes together for this thrilling festival, which give some a last shot at a big prize for the season and others a chance to display some younger talents to look out for next season.

The Punchestown Festival starts on Tuesday 28th April and goes on until Saturday 2nd May.

You won't miss any of the action with William Hill and don't forget it will be Best Odds Guaranteed on every race.

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Just in case you've forgotten what a fantastic National Hunt season it's been, here's 100/1 outsider Mon Mome winning the 2009 Grand National and in doing so, returning mystique to the great race.


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