When looking at jump racing, especially with a view towards the end of season festivals, it’s crucial to keep abreast of events across the Irish Sea.
While racing fans flocked to see Hobbs, Nicholls and the like at Cheltenham, a rather informative meeting was taking place in front of equally passionate fans over at Punchestown, with a whole host of equine talent lighting up a tremendous two days racing.
Hurricane Fly’s victory in the Morgiana Hurdle will have proved the highlight for many. He defeated reigning Champion Hurdler Jezki to win his 20th Grade 1, and shows no sign of stopping there. Another success at Cheltenham may be beyond him, but there are plenty more races to be won in Ireland before then, and his trainer is sure to place him wisely in an attempt to extend his incredible run of victories.
Over the coming months Willie Mullins and the Ricci’s will be a combination taking Irish racing by storm. The likes of Vautour, Faugheen and Annie Power are still going through their pre-season warm up routines. But the clock is ticking, and soon their awesome might will be unleashed. In the meantime a familiar super-power is dominating affairs, and looks set to do so right through the winter.
Gigginstown House Stud owns a host of talented horses, and has done so for many years. In recent times the owners’ championship in Ireland has been dominated by Gigginstown, JP McManus and the Ricci’s. They filled the top three places in last season’s table, with combined prize money touching €4,500,000. It may be early in the season but already the signs point to this being one of the best ever for Michael O’Leary and his team.
Over the two day meeting at Punchestown they achieved three eye-catching victories. Valseur Lido opened his account over fences without breaking sweat. Towards the top of the pile as a novice hurdler, he looks set to make an even better chaser. He looks a natural over the larger obstacles.
And there were wins for two very promising novice hurdlers. Ex-pointer Alpha Des Obeaux oozed class when thrashing his opponents in the 2m4f maiden hurdle. Slick over his obstacles, he swept to the front between the last two and stormed clear. He looks a staying hurdler with gears, and the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle should be an ideal end of season target.
On Sunday it was the turn of No More Heroes to win in similarly impressive fashion. He looks a thorough galloper and is sure to stay further than yesterday’s 2m6f trip. The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle will likely come under consideration. Milsean is yet another novice hurdler due out in the coming weeks. Terrific in bumpers last spring, he’s another expected to take high order this winter.
Along with promising novice chasers Real Steel, Very Wood and Lieutenant Colonel, Gigginstown have already had the more established Don Cossack and Road To Riches running impressively this season.
The depth of talent is quite incredible, and there can be little doubt that those famous silks are going to be carried to many graded victories as the campaign progresses. When the major festivals finally arrive, 'Team O’Leary' will be more than ready for the challenge.