Punchestown Hurdle: Solwhit favourite to shine in big race
Five-time Grade One winner Solwhit features among just four entries for the Dobbins & Madigans at Punchestown Hurdle on Sunday.
The Charles Byrnes-trained six-year-old, which has been installed the 7/4 favourite, was victorious in this event 12 months ago in a campaign that also yielded a victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
Among his potential weekend opposition is Colm Murphy's star mare Voler La Vedette, which turned in a most impressive victory at the track last month, and Noel Meade's Donnas Palm.
Robbie Hennessy's Sublimity completes the quartet and is set for his first racecourse appearance since suffering a suspensory injury that ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival in March.
“He's going to take his chance. The ground wouldn't be ideal, but there's only four left in it and it's not often you get a Grade One with only four runners,” said Hennessy.
Paul Carberry is now in pole position to reclaim the Irish champion jockey title following Ruby Walsh’s double fracture of his right leg at the Down Royal Festival on Saturday.
Walsh is now resigned to being sidelined for 12 weeks, but Carberry hopes to be back in action much quicker after injuring his lower right leg in a nasty fall from Jetson at Navan on Sunday.
Carberry currently has a four winner lead (43-39) over Andrew McNamara and is eight up on another former title-holder Barry Geraghty — who was yesterday unveiled as Horse Racing Ireland's latest National Hunt ambassador — with Walsh marooned on the 30 mark.
Paul Townend, with 23 successes to his credit so far, may have to wait until the Willie Mullins team gets into full swing to gather real momentum, but Davy Condon should improve his tally of 16 at Naas this afternoon when deputising for Carberry aboard Noel Meade’s Original Option.
This unexposed Anshan gelding, which won a Limerick bumper in heavy ground, is the nap selection for the Kill Maiden Hurdle after proving his stamina for today's three-mile trip when running the battle-hardened Mount Helicon close in Cork recently. Original Option should have what it takes to cope on this occasion.