It’s the pinnacle of the National Hunt calendar in Ireland this week with Punchestown’s five-day Festival, running from Tuesday to Saturday, and there are no less than 40 fantastic races to get stuck into.

Across the five-day meet, which will be run behind closed doors, there are a dozen Grade 1 events, including the Gold Cup on Wednesday at 17:55 which Minella Indo is the 11/8 favourite to win.

With Ireland dominating the Cheltenham Festival last month, the British challengers will be hoping to hit back and there could be some scope in backing the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux, who won the Aintree Bowl earlier this month, in the Gold Cup at 5/1.

There is also the small matter of the fight to be crowned champion jockey in Ireland and there is a real battle going on between Paul Townend, who returns from injury for the Festival, and Rachael Blackmore, who trails by four ahead of Tuesday.

There are eight fantastic races to look forward to on Tuesday, running from 15:40 until 19:35, and Betfred are offering an extra place in the 15:40, the 16:50, the 17:55 and the 19:35.

It is the 17:25, race number four on the card, that will garner much attention as a seven-strong field battle it out in the Grade 1 Champion Chase, which the Willie Mullins-trained Chacun Pour Soi is the 5/4 favourite to win.

Townend will be hoping to strike a crucial blow in the champion jockey race having been given the nod on Chacun, although Blackmore will be riding 7/4 Allaho, the highest-rated horse in the field at 174, and is set for a strong showing.

Lots of attention will also be on the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase at 18:30. Monkfish (EVS) and Envoi Allen (5/4), ridden by Townend and Blackmore respectively, square off in a mouth-watering Grade 1.

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