There’s a big and most likely very muddy week of racing ahead of us at the Punchestown Festival. The Paddy Power Blog caught up with Ruby Walsh ahead of an important week for a number of the big names in the Willie Mullins yard.
Paddy Power Blog: What rides are you looking forward to for the week?
Ruby Walsh: Quevega, Hurricane Fly, Boston Bob without a doubt. I can’t wait to take on Voler La Vedette with Quevega. It’ll be a big ask, it’ll be a great race and strictly on form, you’d probably have to fancy Voler La Vedette. Running second to Big Buck’s and the way she’s been beating Mourad all year, she probably has the stronger form, but Quevega is a great little mare. It’s great to be part of a race like it. I don’t ride Sir Des Champs, but he’s in good form and I’m looking forward to seeing him do well for Willie Mullins.
PPB: Willie won the bumper at Wexford on Saturday, but that was his first win since the Tuesday of Fairyhouse (10th April). How’s the form of the yard?
RB: In fairness, that’s the bare figures of it, but if you look a bit deeper, he hasn’t run many horses since Fairyhouse. When ran a few at Aintree and it wasn’t too bad. Thousand Stars was only beaten half a length, On His Own and Quiscover Fontaine fell in the National. When you look at the raw stats, yes Saturday was his first winner in a while, but we didn’t run a whole pile and what we did run was pretty much the B and C team. A lot of those horses weren’t favourites and when it comes to Willie’s horses, they’re also going to be shorter prices than they should be, so I wouldn’t be too disappointed with the way they’re running.
PPB: Which of the British raiders has the best chance of winning one of Punchestown’s big races?
RB: I’d be looking at the Phillip Hobbs horses. They didn’t really fire at Cheltenham, they showed a bit more form at Aintree, they seem to be reviving. He’s got Wishfull Thinking in the Champion Chase, Captain Chris in the Punchestown Gold Cup, Menorah is entered in the Ryanair Novice Chase and he has a few others in the big handicaps. He could have a big week.
PPB: You tipped up Neptune Collognes in our Grand National Tips video. Do you’ve a horse that could be a decent price winner for the punters?
RB: I ride a mare on Tuesday called Ceol Rua in the handicap hurdle (4.55 Punchestown). She disappointed at Fairyhouse so she’ll start a bigger price than she should. She’s carrying 10 stone 6 pounds and she’ll love the soft ground. It’s a competitive race, but she’s got a great chance.
PPB: How does Punchestown rate in comparison to Cheltenham?
RB: Cheltenham starts off with a bang with the novice races on the first day, but Punchestown tends to build towards the Friday with the wonderful card and the huge crowd. It’s my local festival, I love it, I’ve been going there since I was a kid, I love winning there. After Cheltenham, for me it’s Punchestown. Others say Aintree, but I prefer Punchestown. It’s a week I really enjoy.