By Josh Powell | Sports writer
Paddy has slipped out of the office early to shoot down the N7 to Punchestown and left the rest of us
slacking off and taking it easy slaving away at our desks. The five-day Punchestown Festival is the grand finale of this season’s jump racing and the last chance jump-lovers will have to make some dough before punting the Classics on the flat.
To give punters a guide to where the money is going for day one, and to get our own back on Paddy for clocking off at lunchtime, we’ve gone through the books and can tell you the five most backed horses this afternoon.
1. Sprinter Sacre 1/8
5.30pm Champion Chase
Sprinter Sacre being well-supported is about as surprising as seeing Aston Villa crumble miserably at Old Trafford again and again. The unbeaten chaser beat Sizing Europe by 19 lengths at the Cheltenham Festival before seeing off Cue Card at Aintree in April. It is the first time Nicky Henderson has set him across the pond but punters can’t see a trip over the Irish sea stopping the Black Aeroplane.
2. Champagne Fever 11/8
4.20pm Champion Novice Hurdle
Cheltenham hero Champagne Fever returns to Punchestown where he won by more than seven lengths in a National Hunt Flat race last year. He has never been out of the frame since he started hurdling and had Jezki two lengths behind him at Cheltenham. Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh are confident and punters haven’t been shy on backing the six-year-old to have Jezki chasing his tail again.
3. Back In Focus 4/1
6.40pm Champion Novice Chase
The Mullins-trained Back In Focus won over four miles in a National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham and punters are backing him to follow up with further success here. Boston Bob has had some support after he fell at the last when leading in the RSA Chase, but it is nothing to the money Paddy has seen coming for Back In Focus.
4. Moyle Park 7/4
6.05pm Bumper NH Flat race
There seems to be a growing trend here. The Willie Mullins-trained Moyle Park has had a truckload of cash today as punters put their faith in the champion trainer as they try to find the winner in a 27-runner bumper. From 11/4 yesterday to 7/4 today all the cash is heading for Moyle Park as Mullins tries to win this race for the first time since 2008.
5. Tennis Cap 8/1
4.55pm Handicap Hurdle
Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins combine again and could take Paddy to the cleaners if Tennis Cap shows his class to win this handicap hurdle. He was only a length-and-a-half behind Ted Veale at Cheltenham but then was more disappointing than everything Coldplay have done in the last ten years when he ran at Fairyhouse. A three week break might have done the trick and punters have been breaking open the piggy banks to make sure they’re on.