With the UK season not set to start until December this column on hunter chasing and point-to-pointing will primarily focus on Ireland’s Autumn season until that point. We’ll then split to provide all-round coverage from both sides of the sea thereafter.
The abandonment of the Ballymacad Foxhounds meeting at Oldcastle prior to the entries stage left it to Cregg to stage the weekend’s only meeting. Ground described as good to firm ensured that fields remained small for the six race meeting with no divided races but the racing was nonetheless of a high standard. The four year old maiden that kicked off proceedings went to the Graham McKeever-trained Lock Towers, a son of Classic Cliche having his second outing of the season here. Lock Towers had had two outings last season, falling on his debut up at Kirkistown in a race won by Horendus Hulabaloo prior to pulling up on soft to heavy ground at Necarne at the start of June. The better ground this Autumn appears to have suited the gelding as he built on his second to The Grey Taylor on good ground at Limavady two weeks ago to score under Steven Clements by a comfortable three lengths in a decent time.
Just six went to post for the mares’ maiden for five and six year olds and it was Garrenjames Mist who came out on top in the hands of Colin Motherway. The daughter of Beneficial, representing the older generation here, had placed four times last season from her six starts in maidens with the final outing coming in a valuable mares’ winners event at Tattersalls Farm. Runner-up Maple Mons is a long-standing maiden with five places from her eleven starts, whilst the third Mill Gale is rated just 78 over hurdles and as such this looked a weak enough event of this nature.
The winners-of-two race looked a decent affair on paper and, though the favourite slipping up late on took some of the lustre away from it, the winner Sam Cavallaro was scoring for a second time this season having notched a success on the opening day at Toomebridge as well. David Christie’s charge followed that up by finishing a solid ninth behind the highly regarded Adamstown at Castletown but with his two winners’ race victories coming on decent ground he looks likely to prefer that if returning to the track and could be capable of scoring in a maiden hunter chase assuming conditions remain quick.
The fourth race on the card was the five and six year old geldings’ maiden and this went to the Colin Bowe-trained Gold Patrol who had run a couple of solid races behind The Clock Leary and Mr Satco last winter along with a few disappointing efforts. The son of Gold Well appeared to have benefited from better ground this autumn and possibly from his two runs under rules in the summer when last of sixteen at Wexford, and when pulled up in a Downpatrick maiden hurdle. He looks better suited to pointing than rules racing at this stage in his career whilst of the remainder the runner-up Deise Vu was a cheap purchase as a foal but shaped nicely here having led for much of the race and it will be interesting to see how he fares next time out.
The feature Ladies Open saw a five runner field line up with the Rachel Blackmore-ridden Klassy, a non-runner for a hunter chase at Limerick last Monday having scored in a similar race to this the previous day at Loughrea. A surprise victor in this was the ex-track performer Vital Plot who scored easily having led from prior to the third last from Isourbell and the favourite. Evanna McCutcheon took the ride on Sam Curling’s gelding and they can pick up similarly weak maidens throughout the winter.
Firmount Gent had had two outings under rules over hurdles for trainer Hilary McLoughlin this summer and having placed third five times thus far in his two and a half year career the son of Beneficial got off the mark at the fourteenth attempt under all codes here. This was in truth a weak older horse maiden that wrapped up the card, though the racing is likely to get more competitive in the coming weeks.
As mentioned in passing earlier on, the Limavady meeting held on the 5th October is proving to be a useful meeting from a form perspective and as such a couple of winners from that meeting that may well be worth looking at under rules in the coming months are The Grey Taylor and Chosen Dream. The Grey Taylor scored in the four year old maiden that opened the card beating Lock Towers in decisive fashion by five lengths for Denis Murphy whilst the Graham McKeever-trained Chosen Dream took the equivalent race for five year olds seeing off last week’s impressive Loughrea winner River Clare in the process. Both look capable of scoring under rules but Chosen Dream could go in a winners’ race even this weekend and may have a date at Brightwell’s sale at Cheltenham first.
This weekend sees four meetings taking place with Loughanmore in Antrim staging the only meeting on the Saturday. The feature Open race could see the return of Colin McBratney’s useful performer Carsonstown Boy who hasn’t been seen out since scoring in a similar race at Necarne at the end of last season. Amongst his possible rivals are Foxhunters hopeful Slippers Percy, who scored at the start of the month at Castletown; and Walden, who could step up to Open company for the first time after winning at Loughanmore over Easter.
Former rules performer Saddlers Deal could make his pointing debut for connections whilst Nodforms Violet could make his second pointing outing for Slippers Percy’s former trainer James Kelly. Definitly Red looked set to score here back in April but for his rider riding to the wrong finishing post and eventually he was listed as being pulled up. He should have broken his maiden on that occasion and looks likely to be strongly fancied in the four year old maiden, though he also holds an entry the following day at Tattersalls Farm.
The winners’ race looks likely to be a highly competitive affair with the likes of Chosen Dream, Liberty One (who slipped up behind Sam Cavallaro last week), Koh Samui and Itsnoteasyted all entered along with Dusty Miller who disappointed behind Adamstown at Castletown three weeks ago, having taken his maiden at Dromahane back in May. Twenty Four Years made a bad mistake three out at Limavady three weeks ago and she could well go two better in the mares’ maiden for rules trainer Tony Martin. The daughter of Definite Article was ridden by Steven Clements that day and he could take the ride again here.
Two meetings take place this Sunday with Tattersalls Farm staging the first banks race of the season with the likes of Backstage, Doctor Pat and The Last Derby all entered to run. Backstage doesn’t look the force that he was but could well be suited by this form of racing whilst this time last year Doctor Pat was contesting the prestigious Velka Pardubicka Steeplechase in the Czech Republic. Of those to have run so far this year The Last Derby took an Open for Novice Riders at Limavady earlier this month prior to finishing third in the season’s opening hunter chase at Limerick and will be looking to bounce back here.
The previously mentioned Twenty Four Years also holds an entry here in the mares’ maiden whilst Rory’s Rainbow is another to have run well this season finishing third in a similar event at Castletown though this looks a much more competitive affair and it would be no surprise should the fourth placed finisher that day Antonenko, a daughter of Flemensfirth, reverse that form on what will be just her second career start under all codes for trainer Colin Bowe.
One of the more interesting entrants on the card is the Definite Article ten year old Definitely Marble who could contest the older horse maiden. The ten year old hasn’t been seen out since two outings at Punchestown in May 2009. The then Willie Mullins-trained gelding was sent off an even money favourite for the first of those prior to finishing fifth in a twenty three runner field with decent performers Wise Oscar and Elysian Rock amongst those in behind whilst his second outing came when runner-up to Last Draw nearly three weeks later. The gelding has had a spell with Noel Meade since but has now joined Stephen McConville and, whilst he’s clearly had his issues, it will be interesting to see how he fares here.
The second meeting this Sunday takes place in Limerick at the Lemonfield track. Local trainer Enda Bolger has two engaged in the Open race including the highly regarded Near Perfection who could bid to get his career back on track after two failures to complete (both on the track) and a head defeat at Dromahane from his last three starts whilst his other entry Quiscover Fontaine completed the Grand National for former trainer Willie Mullins on his penultimate start. The ex-Ferdy Murphy trained Kellystown Lad and The Hollinwell(fourth at Rathcannon last month) could run for Cork trainer Eugene O’Sullivan whilst Near Perfection’s Dromahane conqueror Pocket Reader is also entered for O’Sullivan.
The most notable entrant in the Open however is Tony Martin’s County Hurdle winner Psycho who could make his pointing debut, and his first outing since March 2012, in this. Amongst the entrants in the opening four year old maiden is the Barry Connell-owned and Pat Doyle-trained newcomer Deputy’s Pass, a son of Scorpion whose dam is a half-sister to the graded placed No Collusion. Paul Cashman’sPresent Flight could oppose him here and the Presenting gelding could bid to go two better than when third at Bartlemy in May whilst Cesarewitch winner Miss Fara’s son Abbeygold is an interesting newcomer for trainer Edmond Kent. The Cashman yard is also represented in the five year old maiden for geldings with Dromahane third Blazing Glen a possible runner for them with Sadler’s Stripes who finished a distant third on his racecourse debut in a Kilbeggan bumper back in July amongst those who could line-up against him.
The sole meeting this coming Monday is the Golden Vale Foxhounds meeting at Glenbane. There are forty-six engaged in the opening four year old maiden with Willie Codd’s Shady Glen a possible for his second outing of the season having finished third on his debut at Castletown at the start of October. Willie Codd tastes his biggest success as a trainer at Cork on Sunday and will be looking for another pointing winner here. Agnus Brown, Gold Credit and Maple Mons have all troubled the judge on recent outings and they could contest the five year old mares’ maiden whilst Robert Widger’s Layla Joan made a promising debut at Lismore in March and could also contest this event.
Jenny Make A Penny is two from two so far this season for David Christie with the latest victory coming against Pumped Up Kicks at Tinahely two weeks ago. The runner-up could re-oppose here as could fellow Tinahely winner On The Grid (who registered an odds-on success in the mares maiden) whilst Royal Luso, a seven year old daughter of Luso trained by Jane Roche finished runner-up to impressive Tipperary pointers bumper winner Ballykeereen at Laurencetown in May prior to registering an easy ten length success at Stradbally in an older mares maiden.
She tackles a number of dual winners here including Waltz Legend, Manogue Supreme and Hillbilly Babe in this. A number of the Open entrants are engaged elsewhere including Boxing Along, Kellystown Lad, Psycho, The Last Derby and Rivazza amongst others whilst the useful hurdler Powerstation could make his pointing debut at the age of thirteen here for trainer Eamonn O’Connell.
THE DOORMAN, who featured in the first edition of this column which included my ten horses to follow from the pointing field, could make his debut for trainer Mouse Morris and owner JP McManus in the two mile maiden hurdle at Wexford on Saturday where his opponents could include the ex-pointers Speed Demon who registered an odds-on success at Askeaton in February, Is Love Alive who won at Durrow in May, Aircraftman (another Mouse Morris inmate) who won at the second attempt at Largy in April and the Beneficial gelding Horendus Hulabaloo (a third Mouse Morris entrant) who won easily at the second attempt at Kirkistown back in March. All four are owned by the Gigginstown House Stud.