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Talking Horses: Thursday racing tips for Punchestown, Chelmsford and Beverley

Today’s best bets, by Greg Wood

The big race of the week for staying hurdlers is the feature event at Punchestown on Thursday evening, with five of the first six home in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, including the first three, lining up for a rematch. This is also a race that Willie Mullins surely needs to win if he is to overhaul Gordon Elliott in the trainers’ title race, and despite Elliott’s Grade 1 double on the card here yesterday, Mullins actually shortened in the championship betting with Paddy Power, from 5-2 to 9-4.

Nichols Canyon – who took the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham by three-quarters of a length from Lil Rockerfeller with Unowhatimeanharry, the favourite, another three-and-a-half lengths back in third – is the 5-2 favourite to confirm his superiority. The horses that chased him home, though, are 15-2 and 5-1 respectively, which at first sight does not seem to make a great deal of sense on the basis of their Cheltenham form.

But that was an undoubted, and unexpected, career best by Lil Rockerfeller, who started at 33-1, and Unowhatimeanharry had previously beaten him by a comfortable four-and-a-half lengths in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.

It would be no great surprise to see a reversion to the Ascot form today, but it is interesting too that Unowhatimeanharry’s owner, JP McManus, also fields Sutton Place, from the Elliott stable, against the favourite. The six-year-old is going for his sixth straight win, and also stepping up to three miles for the first time. He improved for a move from two miles to two miles five last time out in February, and could easily be the horse to finally conclude Mullins’s admirably dogged defence of his title.

On the domestic cards, Richard Hannon’s Shaiyem (8.15) looks like an excellent bet at Chelmsford City this evening after a very promising seasonal reappearance at Newmarket’s Craven meeting. He showed flashes of serious talent last season while also displaying a headstrong attitude, but Shaiyem looked more amenable after a gelding operation when he ran for the first time in almost a year last week. He raced on the outside without any cover but still finished second in a decent handicap and faces a weaker field as he attempts to go one better today.

Raucous (7.05) should make a successful seasonal debut for William Haggas on the same card, while Weloof (2.45) and Fleetfoot Jack (3.15) look like the best bets at Beverley in the afternoon. Valseur Du Granval (2.35) and Louloumills (3.05) should go well at Perth, while Volpone Jelois (3.25), who ran well on the Flat at Doncaster earlier this month, can make a successful return to hurdles at Taunton.

Thursday racing tips

Beverley

1.40 Bosham 2.10 Royal Crown 2.45 Weloof 3.15 Fleetfoot Jack 3.50 Correggio 4.25 Pacharana 5.00 Rinaria

Chelmsford City

5.25 Bamako Du Chatelet 5.55 Historic Event 6.30 Zac Brown 7.05 Raucous (nb) 7.40 Outer Space 8.15 Shaiyem (nap) 8.45 Arabian Hope

Market Rasen

4.35 Gris De Pron 5.10 My Little Cracker 5.45 Muthabir 6.20 The Yank 6.55 Ultimatum Du Roy 7.30 Wish In A Well 8.00 Country‘N’Western

Perth

2.00 Top Ville Ben 2.35 Valseur Du Granval 3.05 Louloumills 3.35 Chain Of Beacons 4.10 Full Shift 4.45 Hello George 5.20 Starplex

Taunton

1.50 Prince Mahler 2.20 Cabernet D’Alene 2.55 Hermarna 3.25 Volpone Jelois 4.00 Lined With Silver 4.30 Cockney Wren 5.05 William Money