Tammys Hill dominated the early season racing last season and I expect that to be the same this coming Thursday when Liam Lennon’s charge takes on Salsify and co in a Hunter Chase up at Down Royal. The eight year
old made a winning return to action at Ballydarragh on good ground at the start of the month and looks likely to get the better of Salsify who hasn’t been seen in action since finishing third to Mossey Joe at Stratford in June and On The Fringe who took Punchestown’s big Hunter Chase in 2012 but is unraced in over eighteen months since.
Also at Down Royal the Stuart Crawford-trained Man With Van makes his second start over hurdles having finished fifth at Navan on his debut under rules eleven days ago. The seven year was given a highly eye-catching ride and finished strongly in fifth having been held up out the back until entering the straight. The extra half mile will suit the son of Milan and he looks likely to go well again here.
Later on at Down Royal Draycott Place makes his rules debut in the concluding bumper contest. The four year old registered an impressive success when sent off co-favourite at Ballingarry last month for trainer John Ryan. That was the son of Oscar’s fourth outing in points and it will be interesting to see how he fares dropped back in trip here.
Lucinda Egerton saddles two ex-pointers up at Sedgefield this Thursday. The six year old Bollin Line is by far the more interesting of the two. He scored twice between the flags last season including when jockey Guy Brewer put up a pound overweight on his return to action at Sheriff Hutton in January. The gelding stepped up in grade to carry in excess of twelve stone to victory in a Restricted event on his only other start last season. Back in second on that occasion was the Ashley Dodgson-trained Candleford who won next time out in the same grade and twice scored over hurdles in the spring. The third from that Duncombe Park event has disappointed since but the fourth Leedfka won on her next three outings. This looks a fairly decent affair for the course and time of year but Bollin Line looks likely to run well on his return to rules action here.
Steve Gollings does well with his ex-pointers and he saddles Limavady scorer The Grey Taylor in the concluding bumper. The gelding saw off next time out winner Lock Towers by five lengths when making all on good ground that day and it was a solid performance for one making his debt. He faces fellow point scorers Border Breaker (for David Pipe) and Uppertown Cave (for Donald McCain) and he looks set to go well under Paul Bohan.
De Chissler could make his return to rules action this Friday at Limerick after a spell back pointing. James Dullea’s gelding made all for an easy success from subsequent scorer Pairc Na Leasa at Kinsale six weeks ago and followed that up by finishing sixth having weakened late on behind Clear Hills in a winners event at Boulta. The six year old son of Zagreb has always shaped like a fair horse under rules and having dropped four pounds since his last rules outing he can go well should connections take up this engagement.
Limerick also stage a Maiden Hunter Chase on Friday and it will be a good opportunity to see just how good the performance of James was in a similar affair at Downpatrick two weeks ago. Mattara finished third to James on that occasion having previously occupied the same position behind Clear Hills in a point at Boulta. Also in the race at Dr Patmassini who disappointed in a Wexford Hunter Chase but saw off fellow entrant Cork Citizen in an Open race at Avaune, the nine year old was rated just ninety over fences but has run well enough in similar events to this in the past, most notably when fourth to Nevskij at Cork over Easter and Timothy Townend’s charge again looks set to go well.
There are a number of ex-pointers engaged in the opening Novice Hurdle at Chepstow on Saturday but none are more interesting than the Richard Woollacott-trained Kudu Shine who’s scored on three of his four pointing starts since pulling up on his debut at Buckfastleigh in February 2012. The seven year old gelding won all three starts last season culminating in a victory in an Intermediate at Upcott Cross at the start of May. Although that and his earlier Restricted success came on good to firm ground the son of Karinga Bay’s first success came on heavy at Buckfastleigh in March from subsequent dual scorer Bradley Brook and he could go well at a decent price if taking up this engagement.
Final Nudge could go in the concluding bumper for rookie trainer David Dennis. The gelding had just the one point start last season at Barbury Castle when having been held up early on by Mikey Ennis the four year old was still in the lead when falling at the final fence in a race won by Buster. That came on dead ground and in receipt of twenty one pounds from most of his rivals so it’s worth bearing that in mind when he goes under rules as he’ll be racing off level weights here should he take up this engagement but the son of Kayf Tara showed no lack of speed at Barbury Castle and is worth noting dropped back in trip here.
On Your Eoin has been entered up a fair bit in recent weeks and Noel Meade’s six year old could make his debut under rules at either Leopardstown on Saturday or Limerick on Sunday. The six year old hasn’t seen competitive action since taking his Maiden Point at Maralin two and a half years ago which is an obvious concern but he looked like a useful recruit on that occasion and it will be interesting to see how he fares should he make his debut over the Festive period. His owners the Gigginstown House Stud also have the Willie Mullins trained Measureofmydreams engaged in the Leopardstown race and he justified favouritism at the second attempt in points last season when beating Lough Derg Island having been left clear at Quakerstown. Another Mullins star made his debut at this meeting having taken a Quakerstown Maiden and the yard will surely be happy should Measureofmydreams go on to achieve the same success that Champagne Fever has though the Champion Trainer also has the Drohamane winner Milsean engaged for the same owners.
Friends In Time scored easily for his trainer Ross O’Sullivan on debut at Ballingarry last month and the six year old could make his rules debut in a Maiden Hurdle at Limerick on Saturday. The son of Dushyantor easily saw off his seventeen rivals quickening clear from before the last to record a ten length success against more experienced horses. The race itself wasn’t a strong affair with many of those in behind coming out and being beaten subsequently but he couldn’t have been any more impressive and it was a very decent performance for a debut. Like many by his sire he would appear to relish soft ground so underfoot conditions would be no problem should he take this in though with the likes of Clondaw Court (a point winner at Largy in April 2012) who took a bumper impressively at Punchestown over thirteen months ago also in the race he could face a stiff enough task.
Pointing returns this week with two UK and one Irish meeting. The first of the UK meetings takes place at Chaddesley Corbett just South of Birmingham and it promises to be a cracker with Khyber Kim, Theatre Queen, Cottage Oak, Tricky Trickster and Beneficial Reform all engaged while at Cottenham (North of Cambridge) this coming Sunday Hall Kelly (already a winner this season), Khyber Kim, Bay To Go, Earth Dream (a winner here last time out), King’s Legacy, Shy John (a winner at Barbury earlier in the month) and That Beats Banaher (a four time winner in points in Ireland) are all engaged at the Cambridgeshire Harriers Hunt Club’s meeting. The sole Irish meeting takes place the same day with the Duhallow Foxhounds racing at Dromahane, there are plenty of entries at all three meetings with plenty of divided races expected so it’s the perfect opportunity to see some of the stars of the future and indeed some of the stars of the past this festive period.