by Seattle Dancer
This meeting seems to have suffered intermittently from adverse weather conditions in the past and since 2008 (7 years) there have only been two previous renewals of this autumn fixture with blank years from 2011-2013 entirely.
When last run in 2010 this race produced the three-time Philip Hobbs’ winner Ballytober who was purchased by Diana Whateley for £85,000 and is still going strong. The only other winner, Mention Me (from 2009), was a sound investment for handler Ashleigh Murphy but her £50,000 seller had many health issues for his subsequent trainer Clive Bennett and only made one track appearance in 2012. On this flimsy evidence alone one could ordinarily expect this year’s winner Lovely Job – trained successfully by Wexford handler Donnchadh Doyle – to fetch decent money and move to the UK in November following the Brightwells sale but subject to my reservations outlined below.
The purist (read, old fogey) may tell you that point-to-points have lost some of their amateur charm and lustre in recent times and have been substantially transformed into commercial ventures for selling on four- and five-year-old maidens and, in all honesty, there is a substantial ring of truth to this. Donnchadh Doyle would be a prime examplar of the old fogey’s assertion in that from 15 winners he trained last season 8 were 4yo’s and he also had a single 5yo success albeit with a “failed” 4yo i.e. took six attempts before he managed to win and become modestly sale-able.
Doyle’s best-sellers last year were Aqua Dude who has joined Evan Williams (€150,000 sale), Pylonthepressure – now with Willie Mullins – and Classic Place a very impressive maiden winner who has a new home but hasn’t appeared under a new training name as yet. Doyle is only training pointers since 2011 and a very successful commercial venture he is now running. Lucinda Russell and Donald McCain are also buyers of his stock and Island Heights and Uppertown Cave have already scored under rules for both in 2014.
Lovely Job received a rating of 87 for this performance – the average rating dished out to 4yo’s this season so far is 87.5 - and he seemed to travel nicely before taking up the running going to the last fence from whence there is a nice downhill run home. He will almost certainly be offered for sale at Brightwells in November although his pedigree will not be jumping off the page. He is only the second winner the dam has produced from at least 10 foals so Lovely Job is just a half-brother to a Beneficial mare who landed a very modest 2m2f handicap hurdle at Downpatrick in 2007.
There will also be serious questions asked about his sire as he is the first winner for the rookie stallion Touch Of Land (first crop from the Co. Kilkenny Knockhouse Stud’s stallion are now 5yo’s) and he has not been setting the world alight with his early runners albeit it is early days yet. It will be very interesting to see if he changes hand, how much he will make and who will take a chance on the relatively weak page. Such are the variables in this wonderful game.
Robin Des Champs is well-known as a sire of very decent jumpers and, since coming to prominence in the British Isles a number of years ago, his best performers have been virtually monopolised by Willie Mullins with Sir Des Champs, Quevega, Vatour, Sous Les Cieux and Un Atout being among the best known. Robin Des Champs was purchased from France in 2009 and now stands on Rathbarry’s national hunt roster at Glenview Stud. Unhappily, he is a stallion now synonymous with sub-fertility and if you are sending your mare to produce a potential future champion then it’s 3/1 the field with only a reported 25% success rate in the breeding shed.
Ian Ferguson paid €32,000 to Rathbarry in 2012 to acquire then then 3yo son of Robin Des Champs, Kerisper, on behalf of Wilson Dennison who is synonymous with point-to-pointing in the North of Ireland and has been a tremendous supporter for many years and many of the point maidens in the “six counties” are sponsored by his motor business. His main trainer for a number of years has been Colin McKeever and the partnership regularly churns out young maiden winners that are virtually all sold on immediately. In reviewing the duo’s successes over the past four years it is notable that Willie Mullins (possibly via the Harold Kirk Northern Ireland connestion) has been a strong supporter with Balnaslow, Briar Hill and Unic De Bersy all being very decent track performers.
In more recent times Nigel Twiston-Davies privately acquired both Blaklion (four from four) and Brownville so if the Dennison winners end up in good billets following a maiden win it should be very strongly noted. The winners have not tended to be highly rated when collecting their maidens (median mark is 86-87) but they do progress in general. The highest ever winner was from last season and he is Horsehill – a winner at Loughanmore last April and rated 90 – who has now joined Oliver Sherwood at a cost of £45,000 for whom he has yet to race.
Kerisper won this maiden impressively (Derek O’Connor was complimentary about him in his Racing post column) and has been given a rating of 89, the highest so far this season for a winning 5yo. He seems to possess a nice pedigree as the French-bred’s dam was a winner over 2m2f who in turn is a full-sister to a winner and is out of a winner!
The last time this maiden was run it was divided in 2010 and produced two very modestly-rated winners in Traffic Chaos (a maiden hurdle winner for Charlie Mann who cost him just £6,000) and Venetia Williams’ Rocky Bender who wasn’t seen for two years and has been placed six times in handicaps after his injury-delayed setbacks.
My guess is that Kerisper will be joining a strong stable following the Cheltenham sale in three weeks’ time and will continue the good recent record of Dennison/McKeever.
Horses To Follow: