Rhys Williams has analysed day four of the Punchestown Festival and has a sole selection in the Champion Hunter Chase.
Margin of victory in last two underplays superiority
Billaway and Vaucelet head the market for the Champion Hunter Chase at Punchestown. Billaway took the hunter chase at the Cheltenham Festival but he had a very hard race there and didn’t look an easy ride. Vaucelet was a wide-margin winner last time at Fairyhouse and had looked smart in this sphere prior to that but he did have an ideal setup at Fairyhouse chasing a strong pace and I’m not sure today’s scenario will necessarily see him at his best as he’s unlikely to get a repeat of that.
Dorking Cock is next in and I think he’s overpriced given his quality and that a small field with potentially more emphasis on speed will suit him. He won four races for Tom Lacey over 2m and 2m1f and has continued to show a good level of ability since joining Stuart Crawford. On his second start for his new yard over 3m2f at Down Royal, he chased home the 135-rated Goose Man with 31 lengths back to the third.
He was disappointing on his next start in an Open at Loughbrickland but he was held up that day, which I’m not sure suited, and a tongue tie went on next time at Down Royal which suggests his wind might have been an issue that day too.
Dorking Cock was sent off a big price at Down Royal on the back of that run but bounced back to a much better level in victory. He raced much handier and despite his jumping not being too fluent at times, he went to the front going past the usual 3 out. He didn’t look to be doing much in front and was joined by Vaucelet at 2 out. Dorking Cock made a mistake but still came away from the fence in front and he had enough left to hold off the late challenge of Er Dancer on the run in.
He was then off the track for 112 days before returning in an Open at Oldcastle twelve days ago. He eased to the front at 2 out but again did little in front and was nearly joined by Vis Ta Loi shortly after the last before going on again to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
His idleness in front means that he hasn’t appeared as superior in those two wins as was the case. The run twelve days ago should have put him spot on for this and he should be well positioned tracking the leaders to be able to use his superior speed late on if this does end up being steadily run.
That idleness is also a slight concern and his jumping is a bit of a worry too as it wasn’t too good at Down Royal but I think there’s too much between him and the front pair in the market and any 10/1 or bigger appeals.
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