The cancellation of Athlacca meant that there was no racing on Saturday pointing wise but a marathon card at Ballinaboola and a competitive meeting down at Kinsale made up for that the following day. With Brightwells Cheltenham sale coming up on Friday this was a last chance for horses to gain a wild card entry into the sale and here are my thoughts on the best and most eyecatching performances of the day.
Cork handler Sean O’Brien has had plenty of success when teaming up with local jockey Ciaran Fennessy, most notably with Golantilla during the 2012/13 season and his Cloudings mare Cloudy Rock put up a highly impressive performance in the opening Four Year Old Mares Maiden to see off Tattersalls runner-up Kilronan High by an easy fifteen lengths with a further twelve lengths back to the third placed finisher. The runner-up had the benefit of experience and looks a reasonable yardstick given she’d been placed on her two previous outings so to beat her so convincingly here she would have to go down as a likely black-type performer and a candidate to score at the first time of asking under rules.
The geldings equivalent also went to another impressive scorer, this time the Andy Slattery-trained Cliff Lane who romped to a distance success over the only other finisher Nidge Weasel in a thirteen horse field. One of those fallers had looked booked for third prior to coming down at the last and it looks unlikely that any of those who failed to complete would have had any hope of getting near the son of Scorpion today. Roger Quinlan partnered the gelding and it will be interesting to see what he does when he goes under rules.
De Chissler recorded an easy success in the older horse Maiden and though James Dullea’s charge only had six opponents he couldn’t have done it any more impressively. Declan Queally partnered the gelding as he had done when the gelding was sixth at Rathcannon on the opening weekend of the season and De Chissler gained compensation for a fall under Kevin Power at Lemonfield two weeks ago in this. The son of Zagreb already has track experience at sub-three mile trips and with a mark of just eighty eight he should be noted when returning to that sphere of racing and would be of great interest if connections use this season’s front running tactics with him.
There was an early start to the action at Ballinaboola due to a large number of entries and the meeting got off to a bang with Shark Hanlon’s Old Storm making all in a very decent time to score in the Four Year Old Maiden. The winner of this event automatically gains entry into the DBS Hennessy Sale at the end of the month and this looked a decent enough affair. Quite what the buyers made of it could well be seen this coming Friday evening when Clondaw Farmer heads to the Brightwells Cheltenham sale for owners the Monbeg Syndicate.
The second and third divisions of this particular Maiden were won be less impressive horses but ones who looked up to scoring under rules nonetheless. Kieran Purcell’s Didyouno scored in a time two seconds slower than Old Storm’s and he improved on his runner-up position at Loughrea last month to take this by five lengths from Superior Command who can take a similar event at least and One For Arthur who looked a shade one paced when headed between the last two but had shown a fair level of form prior to that when runner-up to Silent Knight at Tattersalls Farm. The third division won by Orby’s Man was most notable for being the first pointing winner for German-raced sire Arcadio. Orby’s Man led prior to the second last under jockey Harley Dunne to run out the half length winner from Take The Cash and Roi Des Francs who made his rules debut in the hot Land Rover Bumper won by Moyle Park at Punchestown in April and who’d followed that up by finishing third in a Killarney bumper three weeks later.
Deise Vu ran well behind Gold Patrol at Cregg last month and he stepped up on that to go one better in this twelve runner event on good ground. This looked a competitive enough affair and continued Vincent Halley’s good run of form. The son of Brian Boru clearly appreciates good ground and though he’s entered in the sales this Friday he would still be of interest on a sound surface should he be entered up in the coming weeks.
Formerly trained by ex-jump jockey Marcus Foley Forgivienne scored twice from her three starts in points last season falling on her debut outing prior to taking a Mares Maiden and a Restricted at Barbury and Whitfield respectively. The daughter of Alflora has joined Evan Williams for a rules career and having been beaten a head in a small field Novices event at Ludlow towards the end of last month she makes her second start over hurdles at the same track this afternoon. This looks a better race but she looks set to put up a good show in receipt of weight from most of her rivals under jockey Adam Wedge.
A number of ex-pointers contest the concluding bumper at Ludlow with another Evan Williams inmate On Tour heading them following a success in a Stradbally Maiden event where he saw off subsequent Listowel bumper winner Ivy Gate and also in a bumper here just over a month ago. Monbeg Theatre ran well on his debut at Ballindenisk back in May for former handler Donnchadh Doyle where despite showing signs of inexperience he ran on well to finish runner-up to the useful looking Racing Pulse whilst two other ex-pointers Monart Diamond and Letterofthelaw represent leading connections being trained by Tim Vaughan and Rebecca Curtis respectively.
At Newcastle on Friday the impressive Inch scorer Gunner Fifteen could make his rules debut for trainer Fergal O’Brien in the concluding bumper. The son of Westerner saw off ten rivals for that debut success on soft ground at the end of March and whilst none of those who completed in behind have scored in points or under rules since he looked a cut above those under Declan Queally and is worth noting in the market for a yard who have had success with similar types in the past. Donald McCain is represented by both Degooch and The Backup Plan at the five day stage with preference being for the former who registered his first career success when winning at Toomebridge at the start of May. That was the son of Gamut’s third career start having finished runner-up to Horendus Hulabaloo on his debut at Kirkistown in March prior to falling at Loughanmore the following month.
Port Melon who featured on the early horses to follow list could make his debut for trainer Paul Nicholls at Cheltenham this coming Saturday. Port Melon scored impressively on his debut in a 2m 4f Maiden event at Trebudannon on Easter Monday. The five year old had been held up by jockey Will Biddick prior to making a move half-way and leading between the final two fences to record an impressive success for then trainer Richard Barber. He had subsequent dual winner Skating Home in behind when taking a Restricted event at Woodford just over two weeks later and has the makings of a graded performer under rules and he could make his rules debut here in this Grade 2 event which will be featured on Channel 4.
Marlbrook was a late non-runner ahead of his intended chasing debut last weekend and he again holds an entry in the Beginners Chase at Punchestown this Saturday. The Colm Murphy-trained gelding ran out the impressive winner of his Maiden Hurdle for former trainer Enda Bolger having scored easily on his pointing debut and I expect him to record a third career success should he tackle the likes of fellow point winners Clonbanan Lad, Si C’Etait Vrai and Champagne Fever in this contest.
Long Strand had a good time of it in banks races last season winning points in that sphere at Lingstown in November and March in addition to running well to be third at a big price under owner-rider Evanna McCutcheon here behind Arabella Boy in April. McCutcheon could also be represented by Nhakira who finished a solid second in what looked a weak Mares Open banks event at Tattersalls Farm in May though she hasn’t run since running respectably twice in two days at Kinsale in June. Quiscover Fontaine holds an entry in the cross-country event at Cheltenham on Friday and looks set to embark on a career in this sphere following a second at Lemonfield behind Near Perfection on his first outing for Enda Bolger three weeks ago. The gelding had previously been with Willie Mullins for whom he recorded seven successes, the latest being at Christmas 2011 when taking a Leopardstown Conditions Hurdle event under Tony McCoy.
The Doorman is another to feature in the pointers to follow feature and he could attempt to go one better than when runner-up on both of his outings so far, the first coming in a Lemonfield point in March and the most recent behind when second in a seven horse field to Noah Webster at Naas last month. He could be given most to do by the Willie Mullins trained Royal Caviar who’s been bought by Rich Ricci since taking a Castletown Maiden by eight lengths in April this year.
It’s A Doddle travelled well into the race when breaking his maiden at Dromahane in April and he could take in a Novice Hurdle at Uttoxeter on Saturday. The five year old son of Oscar scored impressively by three lengths on that occasion under champion jockey Derek O’Connor and he has the makings of an exciting prospect for the Jonjo O’Neill yard. On the same Uttoxeter card V Neck is an intriguing entry for owner JP McManus and trainer Paul Nicholls. V Neck scored impressively at Bratton Down on his pointing debut in May and has subsequently been sold to his new owner. He’s been the subject of some positive reports from pointing regulars in the South West and he along with Monksgrange Maiden winner I Need Gold could make his rules debut in this.
Uttoxeter’s concluding bumper could feature the previously mention Gunner Fifteen, I Need Gold and Letterofthelaw whilst newcomers from the Tom George and Donald McCain yards add extra spice to what looks an intriguing contest.
The most interesting contender from the pointing field at Wetherby this coming weekend is the five year old mare Spirit Oscar who has switched to the yard of Oliver Sherwood having previously been trained in Ireland. The daughter of Oscar tasted success at the third attempt in a decent looking race at Avaune in December prior to finishing runner-up in a Winners event at Killeagh in January and this drop in trip is unlikely to cause her too many problems.
One of the few first time rules starters due out this coming Sunday is the Willie Mullins trained four year old Black Hercules. Black Hercules ran out the ready winner of a Maiden event at Dromahane back in April and with the third being beaten just a nose in a Galway bumper last month the form is already looking fairly solid with regards to racing under rules. Black Hercules holds an entry in the bumper at Punchestown and is now owned by the Wylie’s.
Pointing takes place at Maralin in County Down this coming Saturday and at Affane in Waterford and Ballingarry in Tipperary this coming Sunday with plenty of rules winners sure to be on display and the return to pointing of Grade 1 winning chaser Joncol likely to be a highlight of the Ballingarry card.