Four meetings highlighted this past weekends pointing action in Ireland with a number of potential rules performers on show over the three days. Stars of the show from a training perspective where Brian Hamilton and Vincent Halley who recorded three and two wins respectively with decent looking maidens this past weekend.
The first of the Hamilton four year olds to oblige was the chestnut gelding Definitly Red who got off the mark here at the third time of asking when easily quickening clear of his rivals by twenty lengths. The son of Definite Article enjoyed a piece of good fortune at the last however when the only horse who looked capable of troubling him Ordo Ab Chao departed and having looked the most likely winner here back in April when his rider Niall McParlan mistook the winning post some would say the geldings look was well deserved. It was good to see him straight back into the winner’s enclosure and the margin of victory demonstrates just how much raw ability the four year old has. Definitly Red looks likely to head to the sales next month but looks well up to taking a bumper and could prove to be graded class under rules.
The second of Hamilton’s maiden success at Loughanmore on Saturday came in the five year old geldings maiden with the Court Cave five year old Mercers Court. The Alistair Thompson owned gelding was making his first pointing appearance here but did have some invaluable experience on the track having contested a couple of decent looking bumpers in the Spring. The five year old finished mid-division behind Martello Tower in a hot looking affair at Punchestown in April prior to finishing fifth behind Rathvinden at the trainers local track Downpatrick at the start of June. He doesn’t have as much potential as his year younger stablemate but should prove capable of scoring over two and a half miles plus on the track once he’s obtained a handicap mark.
Tattersalls Farm staged a rare winners event that allowed non-maidens to compete and Some Buckle provided Declan Lavery and Brian Hamilton with a winner as he got off the mark at the first attempt when quickening clear from the last to see off fellow debutant Onehellofaniceguy in the quickest of two divisions of the contest. Some Buckle was held up towards the rear for much of the contest but made good progress down the back straight the final time prior to quickening clear of the runner-up. The Milan gelding is a half-brother to the graded performer Bleakfield Lady and the useful chaser Plunkett and he looks likely to make up into a decent rules performer and should be watched closely for any forthcoming bumper engagements.
The second impressive maiden winner at Tattersalls Farm was Vincent Halley’s Otago Trail who easily took the five year old geldings maiden despite a very bad error at the third last. The son of HeronIsland had been chasing the leader (and eventual runner-up) Urialon at the time under Jamie Codd and though that error didn’t help him the debutant led approaching the last and easily came clear up the hill. He is another who would be of interest in the coming months should he turn up in a bumper but whether he does that or appears at the sales in a few weeks time he looks to have a bright future ahead of him.
The feature Open Banks race went to the Gordon Elliott-trained Backstage who overhauled the useful looking recruit Made In Taipan who’d built up a sizable early advantage for jockey Nile O’Rourke. Backstage’s recent outings over regulation pointing fences had appeared to suggest that his powers were on the wain but he came good in decent style here and did enough to suggest that he can be competitive in similar events in the coming months, although with Nedzer’s Return racing in the same ownership he could well slot in over the banks course at Punchestown or Cheltenham’s cross-country track in the coming months.
Near Perfection looks set for another crack at Hunter Chasing after his twenty length success in the Open contest at Lemonfield on Sunday. The son of Oscar saw off five others including the Eoin O’Sullivan-ridden The Hollinwell who departed when a couple of lengths up jumping the last to leave Near Perfection clear of stablemate Quiscover Fontaine to provide JP McManus with a one-two. It surely won’t be long before O’Sullivan, the son of Cork-based trainer Eugene and brother of amateur rider Maxine will be in the winners enclosure both in points and on the track judged on his ride in this.
Vincent Halley tasted success at Tattersalls on Sunday and a day later he repeated the trick with debutant Flemensfirth gelding Arctic Skipper recording a success in the second division of the four year old maiden under jockey Paul Power. The gelding was close-up for much of the contest and led two out before running on to record a ready success. This contest was run in a decent time and he appears to have enough pace to drop back in trip once sent under rules.
The concluding event at Lemonfield was the six year olds and upwards gelding maiden and it saw an impressive winner in the shape of the Jackson’s Drift six year old Driftashore who scored at the second time of asking having been brought down on his debut at Loughrea two weeks ago. Jackson’s Drift raced handily for much of the race prior to leading entering the home straight for the final time and quickening clear prior to jumping the final fence for a relatively easy success. This was an impressive performance from Corky Carroll’s mount and he should be capable of scoring in a maiden hurdle under rules though a note of caution is added in as much as the runner-up Diamondgeezer Luke is rated just eighty eight over hurdles.
There are a number of interesting entries for ex-pointers over the coming days and the most notable this Thursday is the likely odds-on favourite Classic Move who makes his debut for Donald McCain having taken out a Guilsborough maiden from subsequent winners for trainer Don Cantillon prior to running well in a bumper at Punchestown back in the Spring.
That’s Ben makes his return to rules racing having spent last season back in points where his career began when he recorded success in a maiden and a restricted back in the winter of 2011 having shown promise on his two outings in Irish points the previous season. That’s Ben ran well off a mark of 120 at Warwick nearly two years ago and though he disappointed on his latest rules outing at Sedgefield back in March 2012 there’s little in his pointing form at least to suggest that he’s lost any of his old ability. The now Tom Gretton-trained eight year old unseated twice when in contention in points last season with his only poor run coming when pulling up behind the decent looking Grandturgeon at Thorpe Lodge. That’s Ben recorded success at one of the Midlands premier tracks Chaddesley Corbett on his latest points outing in May and he looks capable of going close up at Stratford tomorrow.
There are no fewer than ten ex-pointers in the maiden hurdle event at Stratford tomorrow and it will be interesting to see how the ex-Tom Lacey trained Billy Biscuit fairs relative to some of his fellow pointing recruits who had been competing in Ireland.
One from my previous Horses To Follow feature could makes his chasing debut at Down Royal on Friday. The horse in question is the now Colm Murphy trained Marlbrook who was the impressive winner of a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park for Enda Bolger back in March whilst in the concluding bumper Ian Ferguson’s Adamstown could bid to record a first rules success having finished sixth to City Slicker when attempting to make all in a bumper won by City Slicker at Fairyhouse back in December last year. Adamstown has always looked a horse of considerable ability having defeated last season’s useful novice hurdler Clondaw Kaempfer on his debut in a four year old maiden at Maralin in March 2012 and he recorded his first success since at Castletown at the this month whilst Gordon Elliott could saddle Gigginstown House Stud’s impressive Askeaton winner Speed Demon in the same race.
Forest Walker disappointed on his second outing in hunter chases last season but could make his debut for rookie trainer Dan Skelton in a handicap chase. The son of Morozov recorded four success in points last season prior to seeing off Fontwell hunter chase winner What Of It and a host of others at Ludlow in April and it will be interesting to see how he fares should he attempt to defy a mark of 115 over two and a half miles. Also on Friday one of last Autumn’s most impressive four year old maiden winners Carraig Mor could make his debut for Alan King on the undercard of the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. The son of Old Vic easily took a Ballydarragh maiden in December though it’s a concern that he hasn’t been seen since and with fellow useful looking pointers Oscar Rock, Clean Sheet and others amongst his possible opponents he’s likely to need to be very decent to record victory here on his hurdles debut.
Wetherby could play host to the chasing debut of Coronation Gold Cup winner Mendip Express (also featured in the Horses To Follow) feature this coming Saturday. Mendip Express has scored in each of his completed points since his debut third to Marshal Zhukov and Harry The Viking at Larkhill in 2011. He recorded five successes in points last season and appears to handle most types of ground. He looks capable of going well in this competitive looking novice chase though ultimately his future is likely to lie in handicaps.