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Here are the 3 races you can't afford to miss at Punchestown on Tuesday

Yorkhill, Vautour, Outlander and more in action with three Grade 1s down for decision on day one of the festival.

4.20pm: Champion Novice Hurdle

Grand National Day - Crabbie's Grand National Festival - Aintree Racecourse

DOUVAN WAS A 1/6 shot when he cruised to an easy victory in this race last year and, 12 months later, it’s another Willie Mullins hotpot that heads the field for the first big race of the 2016 festival.

Yorkhill arrives on the back of a brilliant Grade 1 double in the Neptune and the Mersey Novice Hurdles, and it’s little wonder that he’s as short as 2/5 to win here. If he’s any bit as good as some of his illustrious stablemates — and there’s every indication that he might be — there’s nothing in this field to match him.

Mullins’ other runner, Petit Mouchoir, was just edged out at Aintree at massive odds of 40/1 while Kim Bailey’s decision to swerve Aintree and send Charbel, fifth in the Supreme Novice, is an interesting one.

5.30pm: Champion Chase

2016 Cheltenham Festival - St Patrick's Thursday - Cheltenham Racecourse

The Mullins/Ricci team were widely criticised for the way they managed Vautour‘s Cheltenham entries, ducking the Gold Cup late on, but nobody could take issue with the scintillating round of jumping which saw him win the Ryanair.

He arrives in Punchestown looking to bounce back from a shock fall at Aintree — the first of his career — which allowed God’s Own to win from Al Ferof and Clarcam.

First and third reoppose here today in a classy renewal but the biggest danger over two miles looks to come from Henry de Bromhead’s Special Tiara, a game third behind Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother, and a horse that will enjoy setting the pace.

Nicky Henderson has already delivered two of the training performances of the season with Sprinter Sacre and My Tent Or Yours, and Simonsig — a superstar in his novice days — is set for his first run since November, and only his second outing since Cheltenham 2013. Would you put it past Henderson to do it again?

6.40pm: Champion Novice Chase

Irish Gold Cup - Leopardstown Racecourse

In news that will surprise absolutely nobody, Willie Mullins also saddles the favourite for Tuesday’s third and final Grade 1. The treble pays 7/1 at the time of writing (in case you were wondering) but Outlander is by far the most vulnerable of the three. There’s a sense that he might like a bit more ease in the ground; he has won once on yielding but his other seven successes have come on soft ground or worse.

If he’s not foot-perfect, there’s a host of other contenders who can capitalise including the relatively fresh Zabana, who was fancied by many for the JLT but was undone by the starter’s orders that day.

Harry Fry sends over Henryville who had five months off before returning to win comfortably in much lesser company at Exeter last month, while Rule The World, who had never won over fences before his stunning Grand National success, makes an unlikely return to Graded competition.

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Niall Kelly

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