Bally Beaufort has received more than one positive mention in this column in recent months and the son of Old Vic came good in Open company last weekend up at Kirkistown. The six year old had looked a stayer of promise in Winners races prior to this maiden Open success and it would be no surprise to the see the Colin McKeever-trained gelding head to a Hunter Chase at some point in the near future though with the majority of Maiden events in the North being sub-three mile affairs he may have travel further than Kirkistown and Farmaclaffley – the scenes of his two most recent victories to register success on the track.
Stone Hard provided Gigginstown House Stud and Gordon Elliott with yet another Four Year Old Maiden winner when winning at Oldcastle on Saturday. These maiden’s haven’t had the largest of the fields thus far this year and as such given the proximity of Ballykan (beaten considerably further on debut at Punchesotwn) it is probably wise to treat the strength of this form with a pinch of salt but the son of Robin Des Champs could do no more than win and it will be interesting to see where he lines up for next outing.
The older maiden at Oldcastle went to the Gavin Cromwell-trained nine year old As De Pique who had shown promise in his previous outing at this venue when unseating his rider when leading in a race won by Gathabawn Lily just under two years ago. The son of Woods Of Windsor had been racing on the track since and having run behind the likes of Grade 1 performers Benefficient and Mount Benbulben in late 2012 his opening mark of 96 had look fair enough when he made his handicap debut at Fairyhouse in December of that year. Ultimately the gelding was well held in second when falling behind the frustrating Roberstown Rover over 2m5f but he proved her that he retains plenty of ability and he’ll be interesting in a staying chase if returned to rules racing off his current handicap mark.
John Nallen has produced a number of useful four year olds in recent years and his Minella Berry would appear to be another classy type for the hotel owner having proven to be victorious at Kilworth last weekend. The son of King’s Theatre was off the bridle on the final circuit in a small field but ultimately survived a bad mistake late on to win easily in the end. The gelding looks more of a stayer than a speed horse and like many of Nallen’s youngsters is likely to make his next appearance in the sales ring next month.
On St Patrick’s Day Barry Connell’s expensive purchase Mossey Joe made his first start for the owner between the flags when making all for his first Open success of 2014 in good style under Damien Skehan. The gelding is likely to head to Aintree next with the Grand National or Foxhunters the most likely options at this stage.
The first Hunter Chase of the week takes place at Chepstow tomorrow where a field of eleven line up over three miles. Findlay’s Find has a very patchy record in these events where despite having in excess of a 50% strike rate in points (16 wins in 30 attempts) he has managed just the one win at Bangor from ten starts. Myfanwy Miles charge has to give weight away all round here thanks to that sole Hunter Chase success and as such it may pay to side with the veteran Nipper John who built up a tremendous rapport with jockey Brodie Hampson last season and arguably found the ground too testing when finishing third on his return at Kingston Blount two weeks back. On hurdles form the Tim Vaughan-trained Ski Sunday would be another with a strong chance following a third in a jumpers bumper last month while Pathian Prince had a solid record in points last season and wouldn’t have liked the heavy ground he encountered on his return to action at Ludlow last month.
The second of Thursday’s Hunter Chase events takes place at Ludlow where Penmore Mill will be attempting to follow up last week’s success at Towcester under jockey Tom Ellis. Fred Hutsby had a winner at Marks Tey on Sunday to follow up this nine year olds Towcester win and with the yard going well he should take all the beating in this 2m4f Hunter Chase. Henry Daly successfully dropped Pearlysteps into these races earlier on in the season and his Rockiteer is a similar type having been a useful enough rules performer on his day. The eleven year old has already won over this course over half a mile further and looks set go well at this venue once more.
Brownville’s Autumn Loughanmore point second has been well advertised by the exploits of the winner Definitly Red since and he is an interesting runner for Nigel Twiston-Davies in the concluding bumper. The son of Kayf Tara belatedly got off the mark at the sixth attempt on yielding ground at Ballydarragh last time out and he is a promising horse who goes in the concluding bumper at Ludlow with an equally promising jockey in Ryan Hatch in the saddle.
Offshore Account has a good record at Newbury and the first time tongue tie and blinkers combination seemed to do to the trick when he finished third behind Foundry Square here in January. The fourteen year old has disappointed between the flags since and has more on his plate here with the likes of Presentandcorrect, Rebel Du Maquis and Dante’s Storm engaged in this also. Preference here is for Dante’s Storm should he line up in this event with Alan Hill’s gelding taken to step up on his seasonal debut at Barbury Castle last month when beaten by subsequent winner Following Dreams with the formerly useful rules performer Tricky Trickster back in third.
Sunday’s Downpatrick Maiden Hunter Chase can go the way of the Stephen McConville-owned and trained Kerrib Castle. The son of Winged Love finished runner-up to James in a similar event to this here back in December and comes here on the back of a three timer between the flags with the latest of those successes coming at Farmaclaffley last month.