By Seattle Dancer
If point-to-point racing has a spiritual home Dromahane would be easily vying for top spot and it’s a location surrounded by many of the top handlers in the country and indeed is not far from where the first “steeplechase” is recorded as taking place as far back as 1752. “El Gran Senor” himself, Michael Vincent O’Brien, was born in the area and trained in Churchtown prior to his move to farm called “Ballydoyle” over five decades ago and where he trained the occasional winner.
This was only the first time this autumn that a 4yo maiden had to be divided and, coincidentally, a divide was also required at Tattersalls Farm the following day-probably a case of trainers unleashing “youngsters” before their fifth birthdays just around the corner.
My Hometown by Presenting trained by Enda Bolger
This winner was a huge whisper beforehand and scored at odds of 2/1 on and in the process was awarded the highest rating for a 4yo this autumn of 93. Owned by J P McManus and named after a song by Bruce Springsteen in honour of the seriously injured JT McNamara –one of the stalwarts of the pointing jockey scene for many years - if intentions count for anything this horse should be good. He cantered home here and I hope that he remains with Bolger who describes him as “a very promising sort”. He is out of a Niarchos-bred mare who changed course to visiting jumping sires a number of years ago and has produced five winners although nothing really of note and none managed to win a bumper somewhat unusually given the flat pedigree. The dam is however a sister to two very good jumpers in France. There’s no doubting this horse has very good potential and he will be followed until events prove otherwise.
Fairly Legal by Beneficial trained by Robert Tyner
For a trainer who’s been leading handler for three of the past six years Robert Tyner certainly doesn’t rely on 4yo maiden winners to thrive either economically or under rules. He has only trained a handful of 4yo winners over the past eight years and I cannot trace that a single one of them has been sold on. Tyner’s main reputation is as a trainer of sturdy chasers so perhaps it’s not at all unusual that he doesn’t buy young, precocious bumper types to train and relies on the traditional old-fashioned, slower maturing Irish national hunt types. He can be usually relied upon to have a well-handicapped chaser ready to unleash every year at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
The winning 4yo’s he has trained include Boss Croaker (won two handicap hurdles and was very astutely campaigned prior to these wins), That’s the Dream (single chase win) and Sir Abbot who collected a maiden around this time last year and is developing as a useful hurdler. I’m pretty certain his 4yo Mount Brandon that won on New Year’s Eve last year is a slow-maturing type and I will be keeping a very close eye on him in handicap hurdles over the coming weeks and months.
The win of Sir Abbot possibly heralds a slight change of course as Tyner has produced two 4yo winners in recent weeks and I wrote about the promising American just last week. Fairly Legal now commands respect (rated a very respectable 90) and he collected a division of this maiden in which four horses were backed to win. He stated after the race: “I’ve always loved this horse and he has been showing a lot at home”.
Bought by connections at the 2013 Goffs Land Rover sale for a lumpy €31,000, the winner is owned by connections of perennial pointing champion jockey Derek O’Connor, who rode him, and he may well change hands before very long which, as I mentioned above, would be unusual for Tyner. JP McManus would be an obvious point of contact as he has been a good supporter of Tyner over the years and has invested in his stock and retained Tyner as the trainer of choice.
I do feel that Tyner’s traditional profile is changing at present and I will watch developments on the 4yo front with interest.
Another divide to keep me busy! It’s a race that has also been divided in the past and is capable of producing good horses to win on the track with Sraid Padraig (139) and Our Island (130) being the best two graduates since 2010.
Definite Outcome by Definite Article trained by Eoin McDonagh
Not a lot to go on here from a stable that was producing only it’s second ever winner. The horse is sales-bound and will be under the radar wherever he turns up on account of unfashionable origins. Out of an unraced King’s Threatre mare (bonus point) who was related to a dual handicap hurdle winning mare out of a very nice mare who won no less than nine times.
A rating of 88 is respectable and he is one for those who prefer to follow a very dark horse. He made a respectable £35,000 at the Brightwells December sale and is on his way to Rebecca Curtis.
Incidentally, McDonagh’s only previous winner was the 5yo Topper Thornton who joined Colin McBratney for £30,000 last May and could well be another plot in the making as I rate the trainer who is based in Co. Down.
At The Doubble by Oscar trained by Ronnie O’Leary now with Peter Niven having been acquired at Brightwells on 12 December for £33,000.
From a low-profile handler to a low-profile trainer. O’Leary usually is given a handful of horses to prepare on behalf of J P McManus and of six previous 5yo maiden winners he has trained, four were owned by McManus and two (from three) of these subsequently scored under Rules for Jonjo whilst the fourth won a maiden hurdle for Mouse Morris. Of two horses he sold on, one of these managed to score three times for Rebecca Curtis so, all in all, not a bad record for his graduates. At The Doubble’s new trainer, Peter Niven, does not have a record of buying Irish pointers in the past (at least from his winners) and it will be interesting to see how he fares with this horse bought for a regular client. Niven manages to win with about one runner from every fourteen starters so it’s not what one might describe as “prolific”.
I simply have to believe that there is some reason that this horse has been christened “doubble” as the alternative of a misspelled straightforward word is appalling. Race reports do not record post-race if this is indeed the case. Anyhow, At The Doubble (86) was a fortunate scorer when the most likely winner fell at the last but the “winner” tag probably added a few thousand to his value thanks to a modicum of luck on the day.
Horses To Follow:
At The Doubble