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It’s Day 4 at Punchestown – and these are the races you don’t want to miss

As we wind down into the bank holiday weekend, there’s more top class action to look forward to in Naas today.

Ruby Walsh and Hurricane Fly celebrates winning Hurricane Fly can bow out with his 20th Grade 1 win this afternoon. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

5.30pm: Racing Post Champion Hurdle

The first Grade 1 of the day is quite literally a three-horse race but there’s no doubt about it — this is the one that the punters have come out to see.

After fan favourites Sizing Europe and Quevega said their final farewells earlier this week, today it’s the turn of Hurricane Fly to lap up the applause of his adoring public one last time.

Trainer Willie Mullins, jockey Ruby Walsh and connections will be hoping that their superstar can sign off by stretching his world record to a 20th Grade 1 win.

But reigning Champion Hurdler Jezki will want to add the Punchestown crown to his honour roll while Jessica Harrington’s second horse, Steps to Freedom, will most likely make the running and then have the best seat in the house for the run-in.

Ruby Walsh on Vautour leading the field on the way to victory 11/3/2014 Vautour ran away up the Cheltenham hill to win the Supreme Novices Hurdle by six lengths. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

6.05pm: Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle

There’s a small field for the day’s only other Grade 1, the Champion Novice Hurdle, but it’s a chance for punters to see one of the most exciting Irish horses of the season: Willie Mullins’ Vautour.

His storming six-length win at Cheltenham ensures that he will be virtually unbackable today, although Paul Nicholls has a rival in Lac Fontana who won the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and then rubberstamped his credentials by following up at Aintree.

Dessie Hughes’ Liuetenant Colonel is likely to be the next best in the betting as he steps up in class, with Apache Stronghold and Noble Emperor rounding out the field.

Katie Taylor has three fights in the space of 48 hours

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Niall Kelly

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