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Through Irish Eyes: Willie Mullins can close gap on Gordon Elliot today

| 26.04.2017

Willie Mullins goes into the second day of Punchestown just over €250,000 behind his Champion Trainer challenger Gordon Elliot. And I reckon he could reel him in a bit by taking the valuable Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at 16:55.

He’s leaving little to chance anyway, and is responsible for half the eight-runner field vying for the €100,000 purse.

His Albert Barlett winner from Cheltenham, Penhill leads the betting alongside the Petemps Final winner Presenting Percy (both 13/2). Tin Soldier is another of his runners, he was ahead of Moulan A Vent and Champagne Classic, who are also lining up today, although failed to feature at the Cheltenham Festival.

I llike Penhill thouugh. He’s had less racing recently than Presenting Percy, and I think he’s much classier over the longer trip. I can’t forget the amount of great judges that told me Monalee (10/3) was a superstar before Cheltenham, and he could of course be in the mix today. He had to settle for second at Cheltenham and that makes me think Penhill is the real deal.

Another €100,000 contest is the bumper at 18:05. Studying the form shouldn’t take too long, there are just 7 runners and between them they’ve contested just 14 races under the rules.

Carter McKay failed to secure a hat-trick of wins when running quite disappointingly at Cheltenham in the Champion Bumper. That was won by Fayonagh (7/4) who was very impressive and is out to land a fourth victory in a row today.

For me though, I would have loved to have seen Someday line up in that race, but he was withdrawn on the day. He gets his chance today though and I believe he will prove to be something special.

Coneygree just misses out for me

As for the Gold Cup, well this really is exciting. Coneygree would be a hugely popular winner whether people have backed him or not. His career has been decimated  with injuries and hold ups, so in hindsight, what a wonderful decision it was to let him take his chance in the Gold Cup 2015 despite being a novice.

He was superb that day, but not so on his reappearance when finishing a distant second to Cue Card.

However, I don’t feel we could back him against Sizing John (10/11). He is a beautiful horse that has blossomed since stepping up in trip. Few have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup, while even fewer have also landed the Irish Gold Cup in the same season.

But I’m going to back him to have a massive sign off to a brilliant season by winning the 17:30 highlight of the day.

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Hayley O'Connor

Hayley O'Connor is a proud racehorse owner, breeder, self-proclaimed dreamer and PR manager at Ladbrokes. You may have even spotted her riding in the 2015 Charity Race at Cheltenham. Read her exclusive opinions at Ladbrokes News.