The Mandarin’s Friday Selections for the Punchestown Festival

EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase (Grade A) 4.15
El Barra
Willie Mullins is five handed for this 100,000 Euro handicap, so with all that prize money on offer it’s no surprise that he’s flooded the field. There’s plenty of likely types, too, but the unexposed El Barra might be the one to follow lining up from this mark in his first foray into handicap company. It’s easy to draw a line through his poor show in the Turner Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, coming just four days and a ferry trip across the Irish Sea after his impressive win in a beginners chase at Limerick. One on the up, and a great pick up ride for Jack Foley, whose 5lb claim could count for something, solid each way claims

Hanlon Concrete Irish EBF Glencarraig Lady Francis Flood Mares Chase (Grade 2) 4.50
She had to work for her money in the Mrs Paddy Power Mares Chase at Cheltenham, but got the job done in the end, showing a game spirit to get over the line having had to switch lanes two out. This looks an easier task at a course where she has a decent record. Sure to be a warm order favourite, but hard to oppose

Paddy Power Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 5.25
the race that is all about the outstanding mare of her generation, Honeysuckle, who continues to dominate this division on both sides of the Irish Sea. Unbeaten now in all of her sixteen starts under rules, there’s no fading of her star despite now reaching eight years old. She won this race last year in a red hot renewal that had the likes of Sharjah & Epatante lining up alongside her, but this time around, Gordon Elliott’s Teahupoo looks the only real rival, and is still up at double figure odds. Impossible to ignore

Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) 6.00
Three Stripe Life
A good contest in store between State Man and Gordon Elliott’s Three Strip Life. With Willie Mullins firing in the winners this week, there’s sure to be plenty of backers for State Man, who is on a hat-trick after wins at Limerick and in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Pat Doyle’s Flame Bearer is a real threat too, but Three Stripe Life is the one to follow after an impressive run in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree earlier this month

Irish Daily Star Champion Hunters Chase 6.35
Billaway should be just too good to be beaten here, if running true to form. He was 10 lengths back three out in the Open Hunters’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, but managed to steal a certain looking win from Winged Leader right on the line. That was an impeccable piece of timing by Patrick Mullins, who will want his mount closer to the head pof the field for this one. A sure favourite and the one to aim at

SalesSense International Novice Hurdle 7.10
El Fabiolo
Willie Mullins has saturated this field, so it’s highly likely that a Closutton inmate will land the spoils. Ha D’or looks a progressive type and will have his day in the sun, and although Bring On The Night was no match for Constitution Hill in the Supreme Novices at the Cheltenham Festival, he too has a bright future. However, the highly rated El Fabiolo is the one to keep on your side here, after finishing just a neck second to the exciting Jonbon in the Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree three weeks ago, and a repeat at that level puts him clear of the rest

The Mandarin

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