Punchestown Festival day 1 preview: Champagne Platinum value over Klassical Dream in Champion Novice HurdlePublished on: April 29, 2019Author: David Metcalf
The Herald Champion Novice Hurdle is the first of three Grade 1 contests to take place on the opening day of the 2019 Punchestown Festival on Tuesday (16:20).
A select field of six are set to go to post for the 2m contest and trainer Willie Mullins is responsible for four of those.
Klassical Dream looks the clear pick of his quartet on form and is a red-hot 8/11 favourite with Ladbrokes.
This ex-French trained five-year-old is a perfect three from three over the obstacles since joining Mullins and has progressed with each run.
After scoring at Leopardstown back in December, he showed really good battling qualities when stepped into Grade 1 company and getting the better of stable companion Aramon, who re-opposes in this, by a head.
Klassical Dream has since run out the very impressive winner of the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
He raced keenly towards the head of affairs, before taking up the running travelling well four from home and staying on strongly to readily beat Thomas Darby by 4 1/2 lengths.
That success has earned the son of Dream Well an official rating of 157. It’s the highest in the line-up, and gives Klassical Dream 6lb and upwards in-hand on his rivals.
It clearly makes him the one to beat, but his odds reflect that and the ground here will be much quicker than that he encountered at a rain-hit Cheltenham.
Dream worth taking on at odds on offer
It makes Klassical Dream look worth taking on at such cramped odds. One that could be value to lower his colours is the Nicky Henderson trained Champagne Platinum, who can be backed at a tasty looking 8/1 with BetVictor.
This five-year-old was purchased by leading Irish owner JP McManus after impressively winning his sole start in an Irish point, and has looked an exciting recruit to the hurdling ranks in winning both his starts since joining Henderson.
After justifying heavy market support to win easily at Newcastle, the son of Stowaway could not have been more impressive when cruising home by 4 1/2 lengths from Percy’s Word in a 16-runner affair at Newbury.
Champagne Platinum tracked the leaders travelling ominously well and, after being switched left two from home, quickened up smartly to win with any amount in hand.
Although what he beat is questionable the manner in which he got the job done was visually impressive.
Henderson has made no secret of the high regard in which he is held, while the fact that he missed the Cheltenham Festival and comes into this a fresh horse is a big plus.
This does obviously represent a bug step up in class, but Champagne Platinum clearly has a huge engine and bags of untapped potential, so it would be no surprise if he proved up to the challenge under jockey Mark Walsh.
Konitho appeals on handicap debut
In the ultra-competitive Killashee Handicap Hurdle (16:55), Konito is a fascinating contender who looks potentially ahead of his mark and worth a punt at 8/1 with William Hill to land the spoils.
Having failed to cut any ice in three starts in France, this four-year-old created a big impression when making a winning debut for in-form handler Joseph O’Brien in a 24-runner maiden hurdle at Naas back in January.
After tracking the leaders under a confident JJ Slevin, the son of Koning Turf made good headway into second three from home.
He was produced to take up the running approaching the last, and only had to be pushed out on the run-in to readily beat Lethal Steps by five lengths.
The runner-up is a fair sort who has won since off an official rating of 124 and Star Max, who finished a further 1 1/2 lengths back in third, has gone on to bag a brace of successes.
Star Max also ran well to finish 11th of 22 to Band Of Outlaws in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival off a rating of 131.
That gives the form a solid look and suggests the assessor may have taken a real chance in allotting Konitho an opening handicap mark of just 132.
Although he failed to live up to expectations last time out when fifth to Band Of Outlaws at Naas, the fact that he was sent off the 11/10 favourite that day suggests far better was expected.
He has since being given a break and clearly been saved for this.
Pearl Of The West one to consider each-way
Another that appeals each-way in a wide-open looking affair in which 14 are srt to go to pot is the John McConnell Pearl Of The West at 16/1 with Coral.
This five-year-old mare is a lightly-raced and unexposed sort over hurdles having had just eight starts – winning four times and making the frame on another occasion.
The daughter of Teofilo was ultra impressive in the last of those successes at Cheltenham back in October when making virtually all under Sean Bowen, and only having to be ridden out to easily beat Redicean by 3 1/4 lengths off a mark of 130.
Pearl Of The West then ran well following a break when runner-up on the level at Dundalk, before finding things too hot last time out when fading to finish a 17-length 10th of 14 to Verdana Blue in the Grade 2 Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr off a mark of 134.
This represents a return to calmer waters and Pearl Of The West is able to race in it off 2lb lower.
Off her revised rating of 132, she looks weighted to go well and make her presence felt judged on the aforementioned manner of which she disposed of Redicean.
Delta can make short Work of Novice Chase rivals
Delta Work heads the betting for the Grade 1 Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase run over 3m (18:40), and looks a worthy 7/4 favourite with Betway to get back to winning ways following a fine effort last time out at the Cheltenham Festival.
That run came in the RSA Chase where the Gordon Elliott trained six-year-old travelled well for much of the 3m contest, before sticking to the task nicely to finish a 2 1/4 lengths third of 12 to Topofthegame.
Prior to that, the Gigginstown House Stud owned son of Network was unbeaten in three starts over the larger obstacles, scoring at Down Royal before going on to land Grade 1 contests at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown in taking fashion.
Delta Work’s form makes him the one to beat in this, despite the fact that he is rated 1lb inferior to A Plus Tard – to whom he has to concede a 5lb weight-for-age allowance.
His proven stamina and winning form over the trip are big pluses, as is the fact that he handles the ground and has a 50 per cent strike rate under Grand National winning jockey Davy Russell.
A Plus Tard was very impressive when when romping to a facile 16-length success in a Listed 20-runner novices’ handicap at the Cheltenham Festival.
That win came over 2m 4f, however, and Henry De Bromhead’s five-year-old, who can be backed at 9/4 with Paddy Power, looks opposable in his follow-up bid now stepped up to 3m for the first time.
The same applies to the Willie Mullins trained Getabird, whose best form has come over 2m.
This seven-year-old, who is a best-price 11/2 with 888Sport, has also looked far from the most straightforward for all that he is undoubtedly a very talented sort.