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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Jumps seasons reach thrilling conclusions and possible Classic clues at Epsom

Ready for the off at Punchestown
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It's another busy week in Britain and Ireland with something for everyone, and the recent spell of warm weather has made it feel like summer is here. So here's what's happening and where to go to watch it


The Punchestown festival kicks off, and it starts with a bang, courtesy of three Grade 1s. The BoyleSports Champion Chase could be the highlight, with the Willie Mullins team of Douvan, Min and Un De Sceaux facing off.

You'll be able to get all the news for Mullins' battalion of runners for each of the five days via his column, available online and in the Racing Post.


Day two at Punchestown brings another three Grade 1s, with Gold Cup fourth Road To Respect among the possible runners for the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup. On the Flat, Epsom stages its first meeting of the season, where we could see an Investec Derby contender or two in the Listed Blue Riband Trial.

And it's not just the Punchestown festival this week, with Perth's three-day festival starting on Wednesday.

Footpad: heading to Punchestown


Punchestown rolls on to day three and Arkle winner Footpad could be the star turn as he bids to remain unbeaten over fences in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase.

There is also the unique spectacle of the La Touche Cup, as the runners negotiate the banks of the cross-country course.


The five-day endurance test that is Punchestown moves to its penultimate day, with another two Grade 1s and a possible showdown between Melon and Samcro in the Commission Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

In Britain, it's a feast on the Flat at ITV4-televised Sandown, with three Group races, including the Group 3 bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes and Group 2 bet365 Mile.


For those still standing, it's the final day of Punchestown. There are two more Grade 1s, but there could also be the crowning of a new champion jumps trainer in Ireland if results have gone Gordon Elliott's way.

The jumps season also reaches its climax in Britain, with Sandown's traditional fixture, featuring the Grade 1 bet365 Celebration Chase and Grade 3 bet365 Gold Cup – or Whitbread if you're of a certain vintage.

Back in 1988 a certain Desert Orchid won the Whitbread, and we look back at his triumph in Saturday's Racing Post, a feature that will be available on the night before.

Read exclusive previews from 6pm daily on


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