Rachael Blackmore set to team up with Bob Olinger for first time over fences
Rachael Blackmore will team up with Bob Olinger for the first time over fences at Punchestown this Sunday after the superb Ballymore Novices' Hurdle hero was declared for the Grade 3 Kildare Novice Chase (2.20).
Already no bigger than 6-4 for the Turners Novices' Chase, the Henry de Bromhead-trained star was one of eight left in Sunday's 2m4f contest, which has been won by the likes of Sir Des Champs (2012), Djakadam (2014), Vautour (2015), Yorkhill (2017) and Envoi Allen (2021) in the past decade.
Bob Olinger, who has been absent since making a winning chasing debut at Gowran in November, looks set to be tested by a pair of high-class Willie Mullins-trained novices in the shape of impressive Naas winner Capodanno and Grade 1 scorer over hurdles Gaillard Du Mesnil.
Darragh O'Keeffe was aboard for Bob Olinger's Gowran strike due to Blackmore being at Haydock on the same day when steering home A Plus Tard in the Betfair Chase.
Lifetime Ambition, trained by Jessica Harrington, is another talented performer engaged in the same race, while Forged In Fire makes his first start for Gordon Elliott having switched from Joseph O'Brien's yard.
The field is completed by Lieutenant Command and Gallant John Joe, both needing to come forward from their respective Christmas defeats, and West Cork Wildway, who edged out The Bosses Oscar and Stratum when last seen winning a Thurles beginners' chase in November.
Kildare Novice Chase runners and riders
Bob Olinger Rachael Blackmore
Capodanno Mark Walsh
Forged In Fire Jack Kennedy
Gaillard Du Mesnil Paul Townend
Gallant John Joe Barry Browne
Lieutenant Command Sean Flanagan
Lifetime Ambition Sean O'Keeffe
West Cork Wildway Darragh O'Keeffe
Earlier on the card, all seven entries stood their ground for the Grade 2 Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (12.15) – a race spearheaded by impressive maiden hurdle winners Dysart Dynamo and Hawai Game.
Both represent Mullins, who has won the race on a record seven occasions, including with Cheltenham Festival winners Mikael D'Haguenet (2009), Vautour (2014), Douvan (2015) and Min (2016).
The Gordon Elliott-trained Gringo D'Aubrelle, third in the Challow Novices' Hurdle last time, also featured in the final field alongside the De Bromhead-trained Guily Billy, who bounced back from a shock defeat on his stable bow at Clonmel when bolting up in a Tramore maiden hurdle last month.
Hammersmith, representing James Nash, and the John Ryan-trained pair of Ferdia and The Little Yank complete the line-up and need to find plenty of improvement to cause an upset.
Conditions have gradually been drying at Punchestown in recent days and the going was described as soft, soft to heavy in places on Friday morning. The forecast is mainly dry over the coming days.
Sunday's action sees the inside straight used on the first circuit before runners finish on the main straight. All races will finish on the same racing line.
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