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Look to an each-way chance in the Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown
Johnny Ward takes you through Thursday’s feature race.

AFTER ITS POSTPONEMENT 12 months ago, the Punchestown Festival has made a welcome return to the racing calendar this week. 

Each day, racing journalist Johnny Ward brings you a preview of the feature race and his best tip — along with William Hill’s latest prices.

Next up, he looks ahead to Thursday’s big one… 

ronald-pump-file-photo PA Ronald Pump, ridden by Keith Donoghue. PA

Champion Stayers Hurdle, 5.25pm Thursday (live on RTÉ2)

The Champion Stayers Hurdle (5.25), the feature on day three at Punchestown, sees Flooring Porter attempt to reaffirm that he is top dog in this division, even if some may still have their doubts.

The son of Yeats went from a pair of handicap beatings off marks in the low 130s to his present rating of 164 after a commanding win at Cheltenham.

This followed a six-length romp over The Storyteller at Leopardstown and he now has to prove he can be as effective going right-handed, though he won at Gowran last summer. One thing for certain is that he will not be ignored by so many in the market this time.

One concern for his backers here is that he may be pestered up front and there is no doubt about it: making the running has been the making of Gavin Cromwell’s charge.

With the likes of Klassical Dream stepping up massively in trip on his first run in two years and Saldier also making a surprise reversion from that division, Willie Mullins’ four-pronged assault on the race is one of many intriguing aspects. It is a concern for Flooring Porter.

Ronald Pump looks the value at the prices. He was all set for the Stayers Hurdle when suffering a minor injury before Cheltenham, which trainer Matthew Smith said would set him back a few weeks.

He thus comes here fresh and some of the bizarre performances of top-rung horses on day one who had been to the Cotswolds shows that it can take plenty out of even the best. Moreover, the form of his Stayers’ Hurdle second last year as well as his second to Honeysuckle when last seen in November rates rock-solid form at this level.

He is a versatile horse, and anything that happens up front to hinder Flooring Porter will be to his benefit.

Johnny’s tip: 

Ronald Pump each-way @ 13/2

Odds above correct at the time of writing. For all the latest prices, visit williamhill.com. 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see gamblingtherapy.org 

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