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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Djakadam bids to make it third time lucky after below-par Cheltenham run

Don't miss the top trainer's views every day of Punchestown

Sizing John clears away from Djakadam (second right) in the Cheltenham Gold Cup
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Djakadam seems in top form for the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup (5.30) but faces a big task taking on two Cheltenham Gold Cup winners in Sizing John and Coneygree.

I was disappointed with his performance at Cheltenham last month when he finished fourth behind Sizing John. We were very happy with him going there, but he didn't perform to his best. Some people claim he doesn't get the Cheltenham Gold Cup trip but I'm more inclined to believe that, for some reason, he was just below par on the day.

He's twice run second in the Cheltenham race and will be bidding to make it third time lucky in the Punchestown version having been runner-up in 2015 and again last year.

His form at Punchestown is very good and he's won two John Durkan Memorial Chases at the course and his preparation for this race has gone well.

Stepping Penhill up to three miles has worked out nicely and he was a good winner of the Albert Bartlett over the trip at Cheltenham last month. He came out of the race well and we're looking forward to him bidding to follow up in the Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (4.55). The ground should suit.

Paul Townend celebrates as Penhill wins the Albert Bartless Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham

Joining him in the line-up are Al Boum Photo, who is improving and won well over two and a half miles at Fairyhouse last time and who should appreciate the longer trip, Tin Soldier, who should appreciate the better ground, and Bon Papa who will need to show a lot more than when disappointing in the Neptune at Cheltenham.

We've won the last three runnings of the Racing Post Champion INH Flat Race (6.05) and we're hoping Carter McKay can keep the sequence going.

He was disappointing on good ground at Cheltenham last time and, while he's in good order, he's not going to have his ideal conditions as he'd prefer plenty of ease.

Polidam, who won three hurdle races and two chases in France, makes his debut for us in the Guinness Handicap Chase (6.40). He's a promising recruit and looks to be on a nice mark. We're looking forward to seeing what he can do.

Battleford and C'Est Jersey represent us in the Louis Fitzgerald Hurdle (4.20).

Battleford didn't run as well as we had hoped in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham and we're hoping for more here. C'Est Jersey hasn't lived up to our expectations and we're hoping nicer ground and the application of first-time blinkers might bring about some improvement.

Wood Breizh takes his chance in the Martinstown Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle (3.40). He ran well on the Flat at Dundalk on his most recent start and we'll be happy if he could finish in the money.

Mystic Theatre, who goes in the mares' bumper (7.15), won nicely on her debut before finishing a well-beaten second at Naas. She's in good form and we're hoping the better ground will suit.

Punchestown card

His form at Punchestown is very good and he's won two John Durkan Memorial Chases at the course
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