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It’s Day 3 at Punchestown – and these are the races you don’t want to miss

Let’s hope the weather stays fine as racing continues in Naas this afternoon.

The field go through the water Big Shu won the La Touche last year, the third straight year that Enda Bolger has missed out. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

4.50pm: Avon Ri La Touche Cup

Run over Punchestown’s cross-country banks, the La Touche Cup is one of the most famous races in Irish horse racing.

It’s also synonymous with trainer Enda Bolger who won a remarkable 12-in-a-row in this race but has struggled without a winner in the last three years. He has three contenders to choose from today — Quantitativeeasing, Quiscover Fontaine, and Keep On Track.

Horses who ran in the Glenfarclas Cross Country often go well and one of the British hopes, Philip Hobbs’ Duke of Lucca (4th at Cheltenham), looks set to go off as favourite while Uncle Junior won this race in 2012.

Picking a winner here is an achievement, no doubt about it.

Ruby Walsh celebrates winning on Quevega Ruby Walsh and Quevega return to defend the World Hurdle title they won here last year. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

5.30pm: Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle

The first Grade 1 of the day looks set to be curtain call on the superb career of Willie Mullins’ wondermare Quevega.

Unbeaten in the last four years, she won a remarkable sixth straight mares hurdle at Cheltenham last month but following reports this week that she was sent to be covered, it looks like today’s three-miler could be her last hurrah.

World Hurdle third At Fishers Cross, Pertemps winner Fingal Bay, and Glens Melody — the other Willie Mullins runner who chased her home at Cheltenham — all line up in today’s 10-runner field.

But Punchestown’s queen will hog the headlines regardless.

Ruby Walsh on Champagne Fever and Paul Townend on Felix Yonger Champagne Fever, grey, and Felix Yonger go head-to-head today. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

6.40pm: Ryanair Novice Chase

The cream of the novice chasers will do battle in the day’s second and final Grade 1 with Champagne Fever and Trifolium — second and third behind Western Warhorse in the Arkle — the best Irish hopes on form.

Felix Yonger disappointed when sent off favourite for the JLT at Cheltenham, finishing fourth, while Alan King’s Balder Succes skipped the festival altogether but looked every bit his best when winning a Grade 1 at Aintree last month.

Boston Bob and Ruby Walsh claim Gold Cup at Punchestown

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Niall Kelly

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