Coral Punchestown Gold Cup | (Grade 1) | 5yo+ | 3m120yds | RTE2/ATR
Noel Meade reports Road To Respect, the Cheltenham Gold Cup fourth, in top form for his bid for glory in the showpiece event on day two of the Punchestown festival.
Meade, seeking a first win in the race, said on Tuesday: "I'm very, very pleased with Road To Respect. He's in great shape and I couldn't be happier with him.
"Everything has gone to plan since Cheltenham and there have been no hitches or hold-ups. There's nothing we can do about the ground. The better it is the more he likes it, but yielding to soft should be fine."
Sean Flanagan's mount is already a dual Grade 1 winner, having won the Ryanair Gold Cup as a novice at Fairyhouse last season and the Leopardstown Christmas Chase in December.
Solid effort in Cheltenham Gold Cup and shorter trip here should suit
What effect, if any, his Cheltenham exertions might have had
Florida Pearl, Sir Des Champs and Boston Bob all delivered in this event for Willie Mullins who is four-handed here.
The quartet includes Djakadam, who has finished second in the last three runnings of the race, losing out to Sizing John in a tight finish a year ago.
Patrick Mullins, who rides Djakadam, will be attempting to become the first amateur to take the prize, and said: "He hasn't shown his best form this season, but Punchestown has brought out the best in him in the past – he's won two Grade 1s over the course – and hopefully it will again."
The champion trainer is also represented by Irish Grand National fifth, Bellshill, Killultagh Vic and Total Recall.
Good effort in irish Grand National last time. Gets the trip well and has had a light campaign
The effect his irish National effort in gruelling conditions might have had.
Good record over the course. Runner-up in this race in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and twice a Grade 1 winner over the course at 2m4f.
Hasn't run to his best so far this season.
Good form over the course, admittedly over hurdles, and would probably have won Irish Gold Cup in February but for falling at the last.
Very disappointing in Cheltenham Gold Cup and plenty to prove.
Much-improved in first half of the season, winning Munster National and Ladbrokes Trophy. Looked set to run in first four when falling three out in Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Made a few serious mistakes in Aintree National before being pulled up and hard to know what effect that experience will have.
Edwulf virtually came back from the dead to win the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February after collapsing at the Cheltenham Festival last year. He finished eighth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on his most recent start.
The Joseph O'Brien-trained nine-year-old is again the mount of star point-to-point rider Derek O'Connor, and he will be attempting to give owner JP McManus a third win in the race after First Gold (2003) and Carlingford Lough (2016).
O'Brien said on Tuesday: "He was disappointing at Cheltenham and never really got into the race. But we've been very happy with him since and we're looking forward to running him. The rain they've had should help him."
What they say
Mouse Morris, trainer of Alpha Des Obeaux
He came out of his Aintree National fall well and we're happy to let him take his chance.
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Outlander
His last two runs were very disappointing, but if he hit one of his going days he could pick up some prize-money.
Jessica Harrington, trainer of Sandymount Duke
He's in good form, but the rain means the ground has gone for him.
Colin Tizzard, trainer of Sizing Granite
It's a bit of a stab in the dark, but quite a few good two-mile horses have been even better upped to three miles. Robbie Power said he had never felt better than at Aintree last time and, if he does stay, with the bit of class he possesses, it could be interesting.