David Skelly's Irish Point Notes

More “Pointers” for the New Year

Following on from David Skelly's first review of the Irish pointing season here, comes this towering effort sure to be packed to the gunwales with future winners. Read, and keep note!

 

1 November 2015: Rockfield, Co. Roscommon (yielding)

4yo maiden: 

Monbeg Aquadude 4,g Flemensfirth (D Doyle) unraced (R92)

There was a view that the ground was testing here and it can be a track that favours stamina, perhaps signified by the win of subsequent 4m Eider Chase winner Portrait King in this maiden in 2009. More recently, it’s been won by Jim Dreaper’s Venitien De Mai (2013) who also gives the impression he needs an extreme distance and, already, last year’s winner, American (Robert Tyner), is being spoken of by Harry Fry as a three-mile chaser following a novices’ hurdle victory at Ascot last November.

This year’s winner Monbeg Aquadude already has the hallmarks of a stayer as, having mostly made all, he reclaimed victory on the line having been outjumped by River Wylde at the last fence. River Wylde will feature in a later article representing non-winning “dark horses” for the autumn season.

Monbeg Aquadude has a very nice staying and jumping pedigree tracing back to a Jimmy Mangan owned and trained point and bumper winner and there are lots of good hurdling and jumping winners close up on the page including She’s Our Native who won six handicaps for Evan Williams, who took over the mare from Philip Hobbs, a feat not lost on the winning trainer!

By a very popular sire and in a race described by perennial champion jockey Derek O’Connor as possible the best 4yo contest run to date in the 2015 autumn season Monbeg Aquadude is now in the care of Michael Scudamore and should win lots of staying races. I’d love to see him get a “sighter” in a 2m bumper or maiden hurdle before we could help ourselves when he tackles 2.5m+ for the first time on soft ground.

 

5yo maiden:

Minella For Me 5,g King’s Theatre (Joseph O’Brien) unraced (R91)

Where to start with this highly promising winner?

If the name of the handler looks vaguely familiar that’s because it is! A first training success for Aidan’s young son it was surely incongruous that Joseph – “Joey” to the folks on NBC racing coverage – was on duty at the Breeders Cup in Keeneland whilst his first runner between the flags was a generously-priced 5/2.

It also hastened the immediate retirement of successful jockey James “Corky” Carroll who decided to bow out of the game with this, his 200th winner in points.

It represented yet another success for leading point owner John Nallen whose “Minella” horses are very regular visitors to the winners’ enclosure. In fact, his Minella Foru has just landed the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown for J P MacManus as I write. Nallen pays plenty for his three-year-olds and they are always by a top sire and sure to be valuable if and when they win a maiden point. Rather modestly, ahem, Mr Nallen gave credit afterwards to himself for Aidan O’Brien’s early successes and momentum back in the day.

Finally, whereas Nallen is always a seller of his horses (“I can’t afford to keep him now”) I venture very, very few of Joseph’s winners will ever be sold again if he aims to eventually rival Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott at the top of the jumping game. I am quite surprised to note that Minella For Me failed to sell at £68,000 at the Cheltenham November Sale given that his year younger half-brother (Stowaway Magic) joined Nicky Henderson for £100,000 after he won his 4yo maiden last Spring. Minella for Me was a €50,000 3yo purchase by Nallen and he will have been very keen to offload him from the balance sheet. It will be very interesting to see where this “armchair ride” turns up next. Perhaps J P MacManus will step in and allow Joseph to continue to train him.

 

1 November 2015 Grennan, Co. Kilkenny (good-yielding)

4yo maiden

King Cool 4,g King’s Theatre (Donnchadh Doyle) F7- (R88) 

This is a fixture that I attend regularly but it always seems a low-key, muted affair. King Cool is a half-brother to two nice winners that were rated 123 and 115 at best – they won three and two races respectively for Eddie Harty and Twiston-Davies - and he is out of a flat-bred mare who picked up the stamina influence of her sire, Karinga Bay – responsible for 2015 Gold Cup winner Coneygree - and she was exclusively bred to produce jumpers on her retirement to stud. She was a nine-time winner in modest races and scored on the flat for Bryn Palling before scoring three times over hurdles for Philip Hobbs.

He was subsequently bought for £20,000 at the Ascot December Sales and I suspect Gary Moore has obtained a bargain as there was a slight doubt over the quality of the maiden as both market fancies fell early in the contest. In addition, King Cool’s form coming into Sunday was decidedly average so he was never going to set the sales ring alight.

However there is no denying that his three younger siblings all had ability – an Alflora mare was third in a bumper and hurdle in a curtailed career – and maybe the highfalutin talk of connections after his victory will be borne out: “He was running well before falling on his debut, has plenty of ability and will win a bumper.”

 

5&6yo maiden:

Stealing Mix 5,g Fair Mix (Donnchadh Doyle) F-P (R88)

Failing to sell a maiden winner at public auction is a disaster for the handler and connections and this fate befell Stealing Mix at Cheltenham in November – not sold at £29,000. Occasionally if there is a genuine underbidder a private sale can be announced afterwards but if connections have been too greedy they will find it hard to move on their horse. At the time of writing it is unclear if he has changed hands.

Stealing Mix is by a fair-to-middling sire in Fair Mix whose main claim to fame is Simonsig. The Doyles picked him up at Doncaster as a 4yo for just £6,500 and such is the fashion in National Hunt breeding at present that very few of the bigger owners or trainers will want anything older than three unless they have proven pointing or racecourse form. He is a fifth foal and the unraced Terimon mare has yet to breed a winner although she is related to some prolific winners herself.

This is one of the most ordinary maidens run in autumn based on past history and I don’t think Stealing Mix will be of major interest to us at any point.

 

7 November 2015 Maralin, Co. Down (heavy)

4yo maiden:

Big Meadow 4,g Marienbard (Peter Fahey) unraced (R93)

Peter Fahey trained an Indian River half-sister to Big Meadow to win a maiden in 2013 but it is ironic, as will become clear, that she failed to win on the track after she was sold to John O’Shea in the UK for £48,000. I say ironic because up to this point he (Fahey) had previously handled 4 winning pointers and all were prolific winners under Rules including the very good mare Shop Dj (won 6) and Pride Of The Artic (won 6) that he trained himself. Door Boy (won 4 for Howard Johnson) and King Rolfe (2 successes for Tim Vaughan) were two that left his yard after success in maiden points.

So when he was quoted after the victory of Big Meadow as saying “From this time last year we have always thought he was a nice horse and it’s great to win first time out. He is for sale but I would love to be able to keep him,” we can easily assume that he has a horse of some decent calibre on his hands. The race has thrown up 7 winners under Rules from the last 11 runnings (including divisions) and Big Meadow has the best rating of the last dozen winners by some way.

It’s a pedigree replete with quality and the unraced Bob Back dam was a half-sister to some multiple winners trained by Noel Meade and Venetia Williams and the back catalogue reveals such stalwarts as Take The Stand – second in Kicking King’s 2005 Gold Cup and winner of 16 races – and Sheltering who was the leading hunter chaser in Ireland between 1999 and 2003.

Peter Fahey’s loss is Neil King’s gain as Big Meadow was knocked down to the Barbury Castle trainer for £85,000 at Cheltenham in November although there is a slight question mark over the sire, Marienbard, who, in truth, is not getting many winners albeit he has covered fairly limited crops. Big Meadow is by some way the most expensive of his progeny ever sold under the National Hunt sphere. Also, bear in mind that this was really testing ground at Maralin and one can assume “staying chaser” is most likely writ large on this particular can.

 

5yo maiden:

Boruing Up A Storm 5,g Brian Boru (J P Brennan) 3633- (R89)

This fellow’s grand-dam was an unraced half-sister to the brilliant chaser Maid Of Money – I just love a good jumping mare – and she produced her share of multiple winners including

Wouldn’t You Agree and Hardiman who scored 11 times for the J P Macmanus/Christy Roche combination between 1997 and 2003. Boruing Up A Storm’s bumper-placed dam, by Supreme Leader,  could have been expected to enhance the family’s reputation and although many of her foals with good sires sold well they have been largely disappointing. Brian Boru has long been banished to Wales by Coolmore and it might just be that the least fashionable cover for the mare – who made just €4.500 as a foal – will prove to be her first track winner.

I have already introduced a 5yo maiden winner, Our Brian, trained by Brennan – also by Brian Boru and making his way to a lenient handicap mark over hurdles - and my recommendation for Boruing Up A Storm is to follow him, probably in hunter chases, when the ground is deplorable. His rating of 89 suggests he should be capable of winning on the track like previous winners here Trendelenburg, Buckers Bridge, Shanroe Society, What’s Left and last year’s winner Stiletto.

 

8 November 2015 Ballinaboola, Co. Wexford (soft-heavy) 

4yo maiden: 

Ballymountain Boy 4,g Mountain High (Colin Bowe) unraced (R88) 

Dunraven Stud in South Wales, run by former coal miner David Brace, is the location of choice for Coolmore’s National Hunt decision-makers when they wish to off-load one of their jumping stallions and horses such as Dr Massini, Vinnie Roe, Bach and Brian Boru have all taken the Rosslare-Fishguard journey to ply their careers in League One having been demoted from the Premiership. The analogy may not be entirely accurate but it is apt.

It was recently announced that Mountain High – a son of Danehill out of Ballymacoll’s brilliant mare Hellenic – will now take this route and it comes as no surprise when you realise that, with his first-crop jumpers now six, his two best performers have been Mountain Tunes (OR 125) who has won a point and two hurdle races and, incidentally, gave Tony McCoy his 4,000th winner in 2013 and Lite Duties (OR 131) who gave Charles Byrnes a hat-trick of handicap hurdle victories in late 2014. From these two examples alone, one can reasonably predict the level of ability being passed on to his stock by Mountain High and a healthy 38% of all his runners have won a race of some description.

This background sets the bar for Ballymountain Boy who was a fortunate winner of this race and there are two “also rans” from the race who have more potential and will appear on my later “dark horses” listing.

He has a page that has become a little disappointing as his unraced grand-dam is closely related to some well-known names such as Observe, Minorettes Girl, Shotgun Willy and Mini Sensation. She only produced one Kayf Tara hurdles winner (6 others failed to win under Rules) but at least Ballymountain Boy’s unraced Bob’s Return mare is improving things as her first two foals – of which Ballymountain Boy is number two – are both threatening to be smart. Her first foal, Big Mike, was second in a point and has been placed three times from four starts for Sarah Humphrey.

As is sometimes the case, the fact that Lady Luck was on his side allowing him to win this maiden may have told against him as he failed to find a new home for £27,000 at the December Cheltenham sale. Connections of Ballymountain Boy will be ruefully noting that the horse he beat into second place on the day has since changed hands for £62,000.

Colin Bowe has produced a host of nice young horses over the years and whereas he was surprised by this victory, believing his charge to be very green beforehand, it augurs well for future improvement to come. I’ll be surprised if Ballymountain Boy doesn’t resurface in a  new UK home shortly.

 

5yo maiden:

Park Steel 5,g Craigsteel (Sean Finn) 3 (R87)

This doesn’t look the strongest maiden and for me the interesting aspect is my return to a review of the stallion, Craigsteel, responsible for the winner. Park Steel was beaten into third on his only previous start by Tomngerry who has recently won a bumper for Brian Ellison.

This is what I wrote about him last autumn following a win for one of his four-year-olds Jack Steel who later joined Lucinda Russell for J P MacManus after they acquired him for £33,000-a solid if unspectacular sum.

Jack Steel’s sire Craigsteel’s first NH crop are now 11yo’s and his best runner to date, Cross Kennon (a very good staying hurdler), is from that crop. His stock that win point-to-points generally progress and these include He’s A Delight (Irish bumper and hurdle winner), Boss Croaker (dual handicap hurdle winner), Ballincurrig (progressive handicap chaser with Nick Skelton who had Galway Plate aspirations earlier this year), Truckers Steel (won bumper on debut for Tom George) and the “could be anything” Pulled Mussel, a 20L bumper winner for Robert Tyner on his only start so far under rules-won a maiden hurdle but seriously regressed in three runs after. Donald McCain and Jonjo O’Neill have three winning graduates from last season to race this year-Five For Fifteen (2 poor bumper runs-£30k), Amys Choice (unraced since-moved to Rose Dobbin-£45k) and Rainman (0/6, very disappointing-£40k)and all three are worthy of attention. 

Last year’s main Craigsteel representative was the 4yo maiden winner Jack Steel and he made £33,000 before joining Lucinda Russell. He has been a little disappointing too, taking 7 runs before opening his account with a first run in a handicap chase (R115). Clearly they have their level of ability but do not progress.

 

Park Steel couldn’t find a buyer for small money as a foal and I suspect a “withdrawn” entry as a 4yo in Goresbridge July sale would be the kiss of death for future sales prospects. It strongly suggests a point maiden win was not expected and his little-known handler Sean Finn (four winners of five races from 95 runners since autumn 2009) seems to have done a capable job with him. However, the spotters and trainers didn’t want him and he was led out unsold for £19,000 at the Cheltenham November Sale. (I’m hoping he has found a home in England but it’s possible he may try to win in Ireland for Dermot Day before trying the sales route again. There have been 9 winners of various divisions of this race between 2010 and 2014. Five sold to the UK and all won. None or those remaining in Ireland ever did!)

He’s no star but although my early inclination was to write Park Steel off, I am keeping an eye on him into the future as I just had a Eureka! moment as I researched the record of Finn’s previous three winners that all were sold to race under Rules: Beneficial Reform has won a hurdle and two chases for James Ewart, Master Jake -  a 7yo winning maiden that ordinarily would be of no interest – has won his only two starts for Dan Skelton and, finally, David Bridgwater has eventually managed to get Vinnieslittle Lamb to win a chase after Finn won a 4yo mares’ maiden with her in 2012. This is a pretty decent 100% record and who’s to say that it shall now not continue with Park Steel provided, of course, he lands in the UK.

Perhaps the following post-race comment will be most significant in unlocking any future profits here: “We bought him privately from his owner and ideally he wants good ground,”

And we know the modest level to expect from the sire.

Postscript: Vinnieslittle Lamb was a mare that I have followed very closely since she won and changed hands in 2012. I have many such records on the fairer sex and if one can anticipate the potential it can be very rewarding. I will write something on this aspect of the pointing game in time.

 

8 November 2015 Dromahane, Co. Cork (soft) 

4yo maiden: 

Stretchingthetruth 4,g Gold Well (Nick Stokes) unraced (R90) 

This race has thrown up its share of track winners since 2008 with Indevan (W Mullins), Kaki De La Pree (T Symonds) and the ill-fated Sizing Mexico probably being the best of them. It also features possibly one of Willie Mullins’ few point-to-point buying “mistakes” as the 2013 winner, Master Of Verse – who cost £150,000 – has failed to win his first two starts in bumpers as strong favourite.

Nick Stokes trains near Coolmore in Tipperary and from a small string produced some nice winners up to 2012. However, probably as a result of the Irish economic recession he failed to find a single winner for the past three seasons. His best recent graduate was the 2008 Gold Well gelding, Sausalito Sunrise, for whom he paid just €7,000 in 2011 (as a 3yo) and he reaped a handsome profit after he was sold on privately to Philip Hobbs following a victory in his solitary 4yo maiden. Sausalito Sunrise has now won 6 races and is rated 150 and could win a Grand National one day. It is also possible Stokes bought Stretchingthetruth privately as a foal in 2011 and going to the “Well” twice seems to have paid off with victory by the narrowest margin in this maiden from his Beneficial stable companion who sold recently for £68,000.  It will come as no surprise if Stretchingthetruth is also now in Somerset with Hobbs but he is certain to cross the Irish Sea or join the Mullins or Gigginstown bandwagons.

 

5yo maiden:

Gurteen 5,g Golan (Robert Tyner) unraced (R89)

We know this is a good horse simply because since his victory here he has been placed in a maiden hurdle and scored in a Leopardstown bumper over Christmas.

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Gurteen is a horse we have always liked. He is very well bred and he won his point easily. I am not sure what we will do with him now - Robert Tyner, winning trainer.

A son of Golan, Gurteen was also bred by the trainer’s sister-in-law and he’s out of an own-sister to Call Me Dara who provided Tyner with the first of his Paddy Power Chase victories in 2000, so the project is well on course already. As the horse ran in new colours at Christmas it may be that Tyner has worked the oracle in both selling Gurteen and retaining the training responsibilities.

 

15 November 2015 Corbeagh House, Co. Westmeath (soft-heavy)

4yo maiden:

Carrig Cathal 4,g Fair Mix (Robert Widger) unraced (R87)

It’s a truism that National Hunt breeders require the patience of Job and on many occasions “success” can come too late for an ageing or indeed dead broodmare when her progeny – born many years earlier –are strutting their stuff on the racecourse. Carrig Cathal is a case in point for her breeder Mrs L M Northover. She seems to have acquired the Supreme Leader dam – winner of a Newcastle maiden hurdle in 2000 - for very small money in 2001 before a 2002 half-brother by Oscar proved to be of high class for Nigel Twiston-Davies, winning five times and achieving a career-high chasing mark of 149 with his highlight coming in the Racing Post Chase in 2010. The mare’s first progeny, a 2003 gelding by Alflora, won a bumper for Brendan Powell and J P MacManus then took over ownership and the partnership enjoyed 8 further successes giving the dam of Carrig Cathal every chance of financial success. Unfortunately, the mare proved a grave disappointment thereafter as it has taken a further 7 foals before she has even had another runner but at least it’s been the winning first-time-out pointer Carrig Cathal who is putting some black type back on the page.

Carrig Cathal seemed to benefit from the fall of two upsides last-fence fallers – ironically, both were entirely missed by the video recording – so I have another couple of unexposed 4yo’s for future exposition. The winning connections, headed by ex-trainer Paul Roche, said afterwards: “We always thought we had a bumper horse and his jockey still thinks so. He was very lucky at the third last where he made a bad mistake and did very well to recover. Despite being left in front at the last Jamie (Codd) felt he would have won anyway.” I briefly mentioned his sire, Fair Mix, in the course of Stealing Mix’s 5yo maiden win at Grennan-see above.

This meeting and venue is relatively new so there is little history to go on but Gordon Elliott handled last year’s winner Cogryhill to win a bumper and maiden hurdle and he has plenty of potential. What makes Carrig Cathal of even more interest is that Elliott bought this youngster for £40,000 at the recent Cheltenham December Sale and that vote of confidence will do for me.

 

5yo maiden:

The Pierre Lark 5,g Pierre (Robert Brabazon) P4- (R86) 

Robert Brabazon, based in Co. Westmeath has won two 4/5yo maidens in recent years and both horses were up to winning on the track including Cloudy Joker from 2013 who has scored in four handicap chases for Donald McCain.

Pierre doesn’t sire many point winners in this age group either but those who subsequently change hands and move to the UK are usually capable of modest handicap success. The only exception to this is the useful five-time scorer Ballyalton for Ian Williams.

The Pierre Lark is related to some very nice horses including half-brother Washington Lad who was third in the Galway Plate in 2009 and it seems a sturdy chasing family even if the dam’s ability to throw winners seems to have faded in recent times. All in all, one is looking for this horse to change hands and be up to handicap chase success in the UK probably on an initial mark of 100. If he remains with Brabazon I might be only interested in maiden hunter chases over here.

 

21 November 2015 Kirkistown, Co. Meath (soft)

4yo maiden:

Clondaw Bisto 4,g September Storm (Michael Goff) unraced (R88)

Calling a poor, unfortunate horse “Bisto” would not be my idea of a moniker to enthuse over but I’ve always been a critic of poorly or misspelled racehorse names. If I tell you that connections campaigned a horse named Different Gravey in 2014 I couldn’t encapsulate my point in any clearer fashion! Mind you, the misspelling hasn’t stopped Different Gravey winning three times from just four starts for Nicky Henderson and he delivered a £140,000 dividend for connections having cost them just €7,500 as a foal so who’s having the last laugh?

This fellow cost just €2,500 as a 3yo and delivered a nice profit to connections following a sale to Suzy Smith for £22,000 at the Cheltenham December Sale. He has quite a poor pedigree with an 83-rated chase winner being the only winner of note close-up on his page and his sire has only ever had 5 point winners including the “sleeper” Benarty Hill I introduced in my previous report from September. A 6yo mare Mia’s Storm has been second in her only start in a bumper for Alan King – cost an expensive looking £40,000 – and I am astounded to see that his only previous 4yo winner, Grey Storm, cost Rose Dobbin a massive £100,000 last May and has pulled up in its only start to date for her. September Storm has only had 5 winners (of 6 races) from 23 runners under Rules to date yet his highest-rated runner is a maiden, the previously mentioned Mia’s Storm. His winners have included two bumper winners so that might be Clondaw Bisto’s best chance for success in the UK perhaps followed by low-grade handicap hurdle campaigning.

This was the start of a purple patch for Wexford handler Michael Goff who has landed four 4yo maidens in the space of just 23 days. A former pre-trainer delivering young horses to handlers such as Colin Bowe, Goff has been training pointers since autumn 2013 and what a job he has been doing. A strike-rate of 20% is respectable but it is prowess at training 4yo’s that is very impressive. Significantly he also has a great eye for a cheap horse and regularly achieves exponential return on investment.

His current purple spell is not a fluke as it was repeated in April 2014 when he trained three consecutive 4yo winners. Suffice to say anything hailing from his base at Clondaw is worthy of the highest respect on the track.

Three final points in favour of this winner: firstly, Suzy Smith has already bought from this source and Clondaw Cian has already won twice (bumper and hurdle) from four starts for her and, secondly, after his victory here connections pointed to the fact that Clondaw Bisto had previously (last spring) worked well at home with both Clondaw Cian and Bun Doran, the latter having also won a bumper for Tom George. Finally, there is the small matter of the 2010 renewal of this maiden won by Ballynagour and Annacotty’s win in 2012: both of these maiden winners have since tasted success at Cheltenham.

 

5yo maiden:

Lorenzo 5,g Flemensfirth (S Crawford) unraced (R88)

It’s a little curious that no winner of this maiden since 2010 has raced in the UK but, nonetheless, three from five have won in Ireland and Stuart Crawford has been responsible for four of the six winners – including the 2015 victor Lorenzo – and two of Crawford’s winners (from three to run) have been Call Box (landed a winners of one, chase and three handicap hurdles) and last year’s winner General Principle who was bought by Gigginstown and ran 11th in the Cheltenham bumper following a winning debut for Gordon Elliott in a Punchestown bumper in February.

Lorenzo is a half-brother to a modest dual handicap hurdle winner and a couple of winning pointers and his dam was trained by David Elsworth to win on the flat (R68) although an immediate sister won five staying flat races and five hurdles/ chases. I’m not sure why the Perugino dam has been bred exclusively to National Hunt stallions but Flemensfirth gives this horse a decent shout. He was led out unsold at £78,000 at Cheltenham-December so it’s as yet unclear if he has changed hands.

“He jumped for fun, enjoyed it in front and showed a nice turn of foot when challenged. He has an instant gear and never seemed under pressure. He could go for a bumper but I’d be surprised if I was able to hold on to him.” Time will tell.

 

22 November 2015 Boulta, West Waterford (yielding-soft)

4yo maiden (Division I):

Crank Em Up 4,g Royal Anthem (Colin Motherway) unraced (R88)

Crank Em Up’s dam is from a nice family and is an unraced Old Vic half-sister to five winners out of a winner who was well-related. She’s been a little slow to produce the goods herself and Crank Em Up is her fourth foal and the first to display decent ability. He is the first pointing winner in the calendar year 2015 for his sire Royal Anthem and represents his fourth year of 4yo runners. He’s been a reasonable success as an imported NH stallion from Kentucky and of his 10 best progeny to race over jumps seven have come from Irish-covered mares and all bar one were either first or second in maiden points, the best to date being The Grey Taylor (won three for Brian Ellison R140) and Princeton Royale (won three for Neil King R138).

Colin Motherway trained and rode this winner patiently and he subsequently fetched £62,000 to the bid from David Dennis Racing. Motherway’s only previous 4yo winner was Danandy in 2011 and he’s won 5 races for Philip Hobbs. The best of other winners he’s trained and sold on are Lord Alfie (win two handicap chases for Liz Doyle) and Ballinahow Star, a three-time winner. His biggest payday was selling his Westerner 5yo maiden 2014 winner Canuwest to Nicky Henderson for £75,000 but he has yet to appear on the track. In typical post-race sales enthusiasm Motherway suggested that Crank Em Up was up to winning a bumper.

 

4yo maiden (Division II): 

Robin Roe 4,g Robin Des Champs (Timmy Hyde) 2- (R89)

Timmy Hyde’s Camas Park Stud is the leading consignor and pinhooker of yearlings in Europe and he is also a key member of the Coolmore/Ballydoyle team. Hyde is a former jumps jockey who is associated with Anne, Duchess of Westminster’s, “new Arkle”, Kinloch Brae, who fell three from home when favourite for the 1970 Gold Cup and is remembered in a chase at Thurles Racecourse annually.

He has always trained a few point-to-pointers and, at one time, was a strong supporter of his trainer son-in-law Charlie Swan – of Istabraq fame -before Swan retired from the training ranks. Hyde is usually prepared to buy a pedigree with an outstanding sire and will be looking for a return well into six figures when he “clicks” in a maiden with the likes of On Raglan Road and Adam Du Breteau. I note that his Generous 5yo winner from last April, The Tailor Quigley, has yet to be named with a new trainer.

Robin Des Champs (Dir Des Champs, Vautour, Quevega) needs no introduction – suffers from a degree of sub-fertility – and Robin Roe was out of a very useful daughter of a Flemensfirth mare who won a bumper, chase and was placed in three maiden hurdles when trained by Tim Doyle in a short career. Hyde paid €52,000 for him as a 3yo and he was fulfilling the promise of a second placing on his pointing bow last March behind a horse that was second recently in a bumper at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting.

Robin Roe won what looked a very competitive maiden with strongly-fancied horses representing Colin Bowe (third here and sold for £100,000 subsequently after he won his follow-up maiden) and Sam Curling (€54,000 French-bred purchase) but was withdrawn from the Cheltenham December sale. J.P. MacManus will clearly have first refusal on this horse (and indeed The Tailor Quigley) so following them to their new homes will be enlightening.

 

5&6yo maiden:

Newtown Lad 5,g Craigsteel (Kieran Roche) 6P- (R91)

Kieran Roche from Adamstown, Co. Wexford trains a handful of pointers since 2013 and his only previous point winner was Just Likeold Times in December 2013 who is possibly on a very attractive mark today for Paul Nolan.

This maiden has a reputation for quite a low standard of track success and I can trace Clonbanon Lad as the only winner from the last ten runnings, including divides. Newtown Lad was visually impressive – “destroyed the opposition” – but interestingly the market only gave £20,000 for him when sold later to Lucinda Russell. As I’ve mentioned before his sire would be a little “iffy” and his pedigree is quite weak even if his dam won a bumper for Willie Mullins in 1996. Described as “a big chasing type” that might be the essence of the project here in time. 

 

22 November 2015 Glenbane, Co. Tipperary (yielding)

4yo maiden:

Clondaw Cracker 4,g Court Cave (Michael Goff) unraced (R91)

As mentioned above Michael Goff used to pre-train many of the horses that joined Colin Bowe and this ownership partnership struck gold with a son of Court Cave (Clondaw Court) in April 2012 (cost €8,000) that joined Willie Mullins for £130,000 and has won 4 of his 5 starts. In Goff’s first year training himself in autumn 2013 he extracted more gold from the sire when he sold on a €19,000 purchase to Nicky Henderson for £90,000; Clondaw Banker has won a bumper and handicap hurdle for Henderson.

No surprise then to see Court Cave as the sire of this “Cracker” and €25,000 has turned into a £120,000 dividend when acquired by Roger Brookhouse. Court Cave has now sired 43 point winners since his stock first ran between the flags in 2010 and is a serious stallion.

Clondaw Cracker is out of an unraced Bob Back mare who is related to a seven-time winner considered good enough to run in the Coral Hurdle and RSA Chase in 1995 and 1997 respectively and a two-time chase winner for Paul Nicholls. A delighted Goff said afterwards: ‘Our horses weren’t right last season so we decided to wait with this fellow.  We fancied him here as he had previously won a couple of schooling races so we knew he had ability.’ To add further lustre to the story is the fact that Derek O’Connor informed us afterwards that the runner-up was also very strongly fancied beforehand.

The winner of this maiden invariably ends up in a top English yard and it will be no surprise to see Clondaw Cracker follow in the footsteps of winners such as River Maigue, Sail By The Sea, Moonlight Drive and Throthethatch who’ve all won their share of races.

 

5yo maiden:

 D’Arcy’s Sound 5,g Kalanisi (Martin Brassil) unraced (R88)

Brassil trained Numbersixvalverde to win the 2006 Grand National and this winner has a real jumper’s pedigree as his dam is a half-sister to Strath Royal who won 20 races for Owen Brennan between 1992 and 1998, the highlight being the 3m1f Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in 1998. He will have been disappointed to see him leave his yard and he was snapped up privately for the Venetia Williams stable for just £31,000, a sure sign of the times as to how your middle-of-the-road Irish trainer is struggling to make ends meet, find new owners and retain promising stock.

If this horse collects a prestigious chase one day he will have been a bargain although he will have history to overcome in that the average standard of winner from this maiden – in direct contrast to the earlier 4yo race – has been quite poor and Ted Walsh’s winner, Salsa Sensation, from last year is the best over the past number of years having only won a Downpatrick maiden hurdle.

Kalanisi is not the most obvious NH point-to-point sire although he has already been responsible for Ballycash on the opening day this season and we are also awaiting the re-appearance of the £120,000 Six Gun Serenade following his win for Ken Parkhill last April. A Nicky Henderson £140,000 purchase, Birch Hill, from the previous season has been disappointing. As the sire of Katchit he will not be entirely responsible if D’Arcy’s Sound doesn’t make it as a healthy 38% of all his jumpers manage to win a race of some description.

 

22 November 2015 Lingstown, Co. Wexford (good-yielding)

4yo maiden:

A Rated 4,5 Flemensfirth (Liam Kenny) 3- (R92)

I am intrigued to discover if A Rated has been sold because his owner, Partick Redmond, campaigned no less a horse than 2010 Champion Chase winner Big Zeb and once you experience the roller-coaster highs of Cheltenham success one presumes that you would want to repeat it.

However, Mr Redmond and his trainer Liam Kenny are also traders and have profitably sold on winning pointers in the past such as Two Rockers (three-time £80,000 winner for Alan King), One For Arthur (won four for Lucinda Russell) and Amys Choice-yet to be seen again.

The point-to-point pundits have given this horse a decent rating and suffice to say his page is “alive” with positives including winning siblings and half-siblings, very good ring prices – a brother made €155,000 as a 3yo – and a very well-related dam who was picked up by a lucky so-and-so for just £1,700 in 2003 as a maiden mare after an unsuccessful stint in training. The pre-eminent pedigree reference is that the dam is a half-sister to Philip Hobbs’ 2010 Punchestown 3m1f Gold Cup winner, Planet Of Sound.

The same combination won this maiden in 2013 with the subsequent winner One For Arthur – referred to above – and with the style of his front-running success here, the fast time recorded and his cost of €57,000 as an untried 3yo A Rated ticks a lot of boxes and should prove his trainer’s high opinion of him when he goes racing proper.

 

5yo maiden:

Breezemount 5,g Flemensfirth (Colin Bowe) 22 (R87)

Somewhat similar to the earlier 4yo winner, Breezemount’s dam was cheaply bought and her page improved immeasurably when her Trempolino half-brother won the 2002 3m5f “Whitbread” for Martin Pipe. The dam has been reasonably successful to date and has produced a modest bumper winner and a couple of horses placed in bumpers. Up to now the breeder has held on to and raced all the dam’s progeny. The remarkable thing about this page is that it features former Premiership (Reading and Wolves) and Republic of Ireland striker, Kevin Doyle, who is a son of the owner/breeder, Paddy Doyle!

Doyle decided to take the “King’s shilling” on this occasion and following Breezemount’s victory in an average maiden – exactly 50% of the last ten winners have won under Rules including already four-time winner Roadie Joe from 2014 – the horse sold to Tom Malone for £26,000 in December. Malone buys a lot of pointers for Lucinda Russell but, as yet, there is no new trainer listed.

Paddy Doyle bred Holywell, the dual Jonjo O’Neill Cheltenham winner and after this race explained that “Breezemount” is his “Ballydoyle” and “Coolmore” i.e. a highly-thought of home-bred that offered such early hopes that he is named after an august location; in this case his home farm in Adamstown, Co. Wexford. That might be worth remembering!

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