Pointing To Winners 2013/14

Action From A Point-To-Point

Action From A Point-To-Point

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.

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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.

Rules Round-Up

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. 

Pointing To Winners 2013/14

Action From A Point-To-Point

Action From A Point-To-Point

The Stuart Crawford team have made a good name for themselves under rules in recent seasons thanks largely to their exploits in bumpers and their Tyrella winner Double Scores could prove to be another winner for the yard in that sphere.  The son of Double Scores showed plenty of pace to take up the running two from home prior to quickening clear of stablemate Jay Are in the Five Year Old Geldings Maiden at the East Down Foxhounds meeting last Saturday.  Ben Crawford’s mount looks likely to head to the track now and on jockey bookings at least appeared to be the first string on Saturday.

Denis Murphy has produced some useful rules horses over the years from his CountyWexford base and Gold Man could prove to be another for the yard having won locally at Ballydarragh on Sunday.  The son of Presenting belied his inexperience to see off Veripek by half a length under Jamie Codd and his next engagement could well be the sales ring.

Brownville’s Loughanmore outing last October received a timely boost if it were needed when Definitly Red won at Newbury on Saturday and Colin McKeever’s charge, who’d finished second in October duly obliged in the second division of the Five Year Old Geldings Maiden at Ballydarragh.  The son of Kayf Tara marked himself up as a gelding with plenty of ability by quickening ten lengths clear of Little James and Full Throttle under Steven Clements and his trainer will surely be hoping that he is another Ballycasey who the trainer saddled for his pointing outings prior to his purchase by the Willie Mullins yard.

Rules Round-Up

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Leading Foxhunters hope Harbour   Court makes his seasonal return at Kelso later today for the Alan Hill team.  The eight year old has tasted defeat just once in his career when finishing runner-up behind Woodview Prince in a hot Intermediate event at Whitfield in 2012.  Unlike many running at this time of year Harbour Court doesn’t need to win here to secure qualification for Cheltenham itself and he looks sure to come on for the run having declined an engagement at Brocklesby on Sunday (also entered for the postponed Cottenham fixture the previous day).  It would come as no surprise here if James Tudor’s mount tasted defeat in this contest prior to taking the big event at Cheltenham and if that were to be the case then Sacred Mountain who beat last years Aintree Foxhunter’s winner and today’s rival Tartan Snow at this course last year and who made a successful re-appearance between the flags two weeks ago looks the most likely winner while Moscow Menace is one of a three strong team for trainer Katie Scott.

In Leicester’s Hunter Chase this coming Thursday Shy John looks to be a worthy favourite having taken a better race than this in comfortable fashion at Wincanton two weeks ago.  That came on heavy ground and assuming the meeting survives he looks the one to beat under a penalty with regular pilot Peter Mason in the saddle.  Dunraven Prince could give him most to think about coming off a Novice Riders victory at Black Forest Lodge a fortnight ago.  The David Brace-trained gelding was partnered by the promising Sean Bowen on that occasion but the experienced Bradley Gibbs takes over here and with the jockey already victorious in this sphere this season he looks set to go well.  Of the remainder Chief Heckler ran well on his return to action at Cottenham in December and he duly followed that up with another solid second at North Carlton where he had only the Stephanie Easterby-trained Ganbei in front of him.

In the Novices event at Fakenham this coming Friday the useful rules performer Brassick looks likely to be strongly fancied if taking his chance for the Angela Rucker stable.  The gelding would have to carry top weight here but he ran a solid race behind That’s Rhythm and Walden at Musselburgh at the start of the month in an event that would be much better than this affair and the drop in trip looks likely to suit also.

At Ascot this coming Saturday two potentially useful jumps horses square off in a competitive looking Novice Hurdle over the minimum distance.  Carraig Mor made a horrendous mistake at this venue back in November which put paid to his chances of maintaining an unbeaten record.  The Alan King-trained six year old went into many peoples notebooks after taking a Ballydarragh Four Year Old Maiden in December 2012 by an easy three lengths and he followed that up with an easy success at Uttoxeter in November.  He’s yet to race over a trip this short and suspicion is that both he and the Nicky Henderson-trained Full Shift who won at Milborne St Andrew in February 2013 prior to embarking on his rules career this season.  There appear to be far pacier types in this event in the shape of Wilde Blue Yonder and in particular the mare Legacy Gold who was successful in a listed bumper at Aintree last season prior to being sold out of the Stuart Crawford stable.

In the concluding bumper at Ascot the most interesting contender looks to be the Alan King-trained Ordo Ab Chao.  The five year old had looked booked for a place when coming down behind Definitly Red at Loughanmore at the end of October and that looks solid form given the winner is now unbeaten in two rules starts following his success at Newbury last weekend.  Another ex-pointer Golantilla sets the standard from a form point of view following his third behind Briar Hill in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and he is another who looks set to go well.

A hot looking renewal of the Walrus Hunters Chase concludes the card at Haydock on Saturday and with the likes of Doctor Kingsley, Pearlysteps, What A Laugh and Freddies Return engaged it looks likely to prove to be a competitive event.  Preference would have to be for Pearlysteps after his two easy successes in this sphere in recent weeks for rules trainer Henry Daly.  Doctor Kingsley ran a solid race at Wetherby prior to being outpointed by Palypso De Creek while What A Laugh remains relatively unexposed having finished runner-up to Penmore Mill on his return to action just over a month ago.  A win for either What A Laugh, Onetwobeat or Current Exchange would surely go down as a “home” win given their trainers relative proximity to the course and it will be interesting to see how the runners fare on the heavy ground.

A couple to note at Wincanton on Saturday are The Wealerdealer and West Cork Flash.  David Pipe trains The Wealerdealer and having run respectably on two of his three Novice Hurdle outings this four time winning pointer looks set to make his handicap debut off a fair mark of 101 in the 2m6f Handicap Hurdle that opens the card.  West Cork Flash has looked an out and out stayer throughout his career and having been upsides the useful pointer Adept Approach prior to unseating at Fontwell in May he could make his return to handicaps after in excess of 18 months away from them in this staying chase.  Caroline Dennis owned, trained and rode the ten year old last season and now in the care of Paul Henderson (though still owned by Dennis) he looks likely to be partnered by a professional jockey for his return to rules racing which looks likely to come on ground that he handles well.

Sunday’s Dunraven Welsh Foxhunters Open Hunter’s Chase looks sure to be a competitive affair with sponsor David Brace having two of the eighteen strong field for the event.  Cock Of The Rock won his first two outings of this season and finisheda solid fourth behind Rumbavu in the Lord Ashton Of Hyde’s Cup over 3m6f at Cocklebarrow on his latest outing last month while Silver Token was first passed the post for a Club Members event at Chaddesley Corbett in December.  Of the other entrants Market Rasen winner Qualviro is engaged for the Tim Vaughan stable though the most likely winner does look to be Made In Time for Rebecca Curtis who reverted to this form of racing at Ludlow when runner-up behind Pearlysteps.

In the concluding bumper Doctor Phoenix could go for the David Dennis stable.  The six year old son of Dr Massini was the impressive winner of a Five Year Old Geldings Maiden at Curraheen in November having fallen behind the useful Festive Affair on his pointing debut in January 2013 and he appears to have plenty of ability.

Lucette Annie and Kirkleigh are two of the names who stand out in the entries for the Taunton Hunter Chase on Tuesday however both also hold an engagement in a Mixed Open event at Buckfastleigh on Sunday.  Lucette Annie scored in a mares event on her return to action while Kirkleigh hasn’t been seen out since finishing third behind Doctor Kingsley at Cheltenham on ground that would have been firm enough for him.  Certain Flight won fairly easily in the end under Will Biddick at ChipleyPark last month and he looks the most likely winner on paper.  Keith Cummings charge had the likes of All Great N Theory, Hameldown Tor, Current Exchange and The Midnight Club in behind on that occasion and he sets the standard of those who’ve been contesting points for this competitive looking event.

Pointing To Winners 2013/14

North Carlton winner Berties Dream in his youth

North Carlton winner Berties Dream

Childrens List posted the first noteworthy performance of last weekend at Belharbour when running out the easy winner of the Four Year Old Maiden at the CountyClare venue.  The son of Presenting tracked long time leader Capbreton prior to leading approaching the home straight and quickening up well on the soft ground for a five length success.  This was one of the most impressive performances seen so far this season and the time for the 2m4f event suggests that Childrens List should be well up to scoring in a bumper before the season is out.

Gwanako registered his second success of the season for trainer Rosemary Loxton and jockey Megan Nicholls when running out the very easy winner of the Ladies Open at Milborne St. Andrew and he looks capable of taking a sub-three mile Hunter Chase in the Spring under his novice pilot should connections opt to take that route.

Berties Dream looks to be Foxhunters bound following his victory in the Ladies Open event at North Carlton on Sunday.  Now with Lauren Braithwaite the blinkered gelding justified odds-on favouritism by twenty lengths under Gina Andrews and the pair look set to be reunited at Cheltenham in a months time.


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Rules Round-Up

Thursday’s Hunter Chase at Huntingdon looks likely to result in a match following Pearlysteps success at Ludlow earlier today.  The two in question are Brunswick Gold who scored on his pointing debut in a strong Mens Open field at Cottenham last month and Gunmoney who’s seasonal return came when weakening late on having set a decent pace behind the aforementioned Pearlysteps in a similar event to this at Towcester last month.  Both jockey’s lack experience under rules and it will be interesting to see how they fare should the meeting get the go ahead.

Promanco contests the bumper on the same card for trainer Charlie Longsdon and she’s interesting given her trainers record in such races.  The daughter of Kayf Tara scored in decent fashion in a weak enough maiden at Lockinge last Spring showing a fair amount of speed in the process and she is taken to get her rules career off to the best possible start in this concluding event.

Kudu Shine is again of interest in the three mile novice hurdle that takes place on Friday’s Bangor card.  The eight year old is a belated recruit to rules racing having made five starts between the flags proving victorious on three occasions.  The Richard Woollacott-trained gelding made his rules debut on soft ground at Exeter three weeks ago when travelling well for much of the contest prior to flattening out in the straight under Conor O’Farrell and he looks set to go well if taking up this engagement though I feel that whatever he does here he is likely to be seen to better effect in handicaps.

It looks unlikely that Sunday’s Musselburgh winner That’s Rhythm will be asked to line up in the concluding Hunter Chase at Bangor this coming Friday and as such it looks an open enough contest.  Made In Time (second at Ludlow) and Classinaglass (disappointing at Market Rasen) have also run in recent days and as such it leaves the door open for a less exposed horse to take this.  My preference at this stage would be for Alastair Ralph’s Following Dreams who put in arguably his best performance of last season when scoring on holding ground at Upton-Upon-Severn at the end of March 2013 though it’s worth noting that the trip may be on the short side for the gelding.

The bumper that concludes Kempton’s card this Friday could feature the promising Magheral Express.  The five year old took a firm ground maiden at Tattersalls Farm last May despite doing everything wrong prior to and during the race.  The son of Gold Well had sweated up badly and got loose on his way to the start while during the race the now Jonjo O’Neill-trained gelding pulled hard when making the running.  In truth that wasn’t a great affair with the runner-up cutting very little ice under rules since but he’s joined a leading stable and should prove capable of scoring under rules.

The concluding events on Newbury’s card this coming Saturday both feature useful looking pointers.  Mendip Express is now three from three over fences since switching to rules racing from points for this season.  Harry Fry’s charge has seen off some useful prospects on the way and was highly impressive in seeing off twelve vastly more experienced rivals on soft ground over 3m3f at Cheltenham last month.  The eight year old son of King’s Theatre won the Coronation Cup at Larkhill last season and seems effective on all types of ground and should take the world of beating here with regular pilot Will Biddick set to ride once more.

The bumper on the Newbury card is as usual a competitive looking affair which features pointers from both sides of the sea.  The UK are represented by the ex-Don Cantillon-trained Inner Drive who is now with Alan King and the Harry Fry-trained Thomas Brown while Ireland are represented by Uppertown Cave, Definitly Red and Our Kaempfer.  Preference here is for Definitly Red who would have won at the second time of asking in points at Loughanmore last Easter but for his jockey mistaking the winning post.  The son of Definite Article made no mistakes six and a half months later when defeating Brownville and nine other declarations by twenty lengths in a soft ground affair at the same track.  Steve Gollings now trains the five year old and he easily saw off Final Nudge by nine lengths at Uttoxeter on heavy ground at the end of December and has the makings of a high class individual.  Definitly Red can be given most to do by Alan King’s Inner   Drive who showed he had a high cruising speed when winning at Guilsborough under Nico De Boinville last April and who shaped with immense promise when runner-up behind Zulu Oscar at Wincanton in November and his particular listed bumper has the makings of a cracking race.

West Cork Flash could make his return to handicaps in the three mile chase at Uttoxeter this coming Saturday.  The ten year old gelding unseated his rider Caroline Dennis when upsides jumping the last against Adept Approach at Fontwell on good ground in a Hunter Chase back in May and he could make his first start since in this.  Paul Henderson now trains the gelding though he remains in Mrs Dennis’ ownership and having had just the six chase outings, including two in races confined to hunters last season he looks unexposed and capable of running well off his current mark though he’s also engaged in Warwick’s novices chase also held this Sunday.

Eleven are engaged in the Raymond Smith Memorial Hunters Chase at Leopardstown this coming Sunday including the 2012 Hennessy winner Quel Esprit and another former Grade 1 winner in the shape of Pandorama.  The most intriguing runners in the three mile event are the Downpatrick winner James and the Galway Plate runner-up Quantitativeeasing.  As noted in last weeks column Quantitativeeasing was the horse to take out of the Open event won by Burren River at Nenagh and he looks more than capable of running to his current handicap mark of 143 granted the right conditions.  The gelding hasn’t won for over two years and the ground is likely to be a tad softer than ideal for him while James takes a marked step up in grade having won at Downpatrick in consummate ease in maiden company in December.  Warne returned with an impressive display at Kirkistown last month though he looks to be a horse who’s better over shorter and would be my idea of the Aintree Foxhunter’s winner at this early stage and given the doubts surrounding the others it may be best to side with On The Fringe who seemed to return as good as ever when winning at Down Royal in December following an eighteen month lay-off.  On The Fringe will have no issues with the ground and can take this competitive event.


Pointing To Winners 2013/14

Saturday’s meeting at Tyrella was postponed until this coming Saturday and with that in mind it left just the two Irish meetings at Nenagh and Affane and the UK meeting at Larkhill in Wiltshire.

The Open event at Nenagh featured the pointing debut of Quantitativeeasing for the Enda Bolger stable.  The nine year old who’d finished runner-up to the subsequent Grade 1 winner Carlingford Lough in the Galway Plate back in the Summer had to give best to Limerick Hunter Chase winner Burren River and another Grade 1 winner in the shape of Pandorama but this was a pleasing and eyecatching performance from the son of Anshan who appeared to see out the trip well enough and still appears to retain enough of his ability to be a threat in Hunter Chases this Spring.

Hester Flemen appeared to have improved considerably for her initial outing when runner-up at Templenacarriga earlier this month and she was heavily eased in winning a division of the Mares Maiden for trainer Aidan Fitzgerald.  The form of her debut second behind Carrigmoorna Rock was also boosted by the success of the third Trendy Native at the weekend and with just four of the ten strong field finishing in this particular event she should prove up to scoring under rules at a fair level despite the slow time clocked in this event.

Bulfin Island is another who debuted three weeks ago at Templenacarriga and he too registered a first success this weekend.  The Gary Aherne-trained son of Milan ran an interesting race in as much as he was shuffled back through the field prior to coming to win the race fairly convincingly thanks to a strong run from two out.  The son of Milan is clearly still learning about racing but looks likely make up into a handicap performer over around three miles on a stiff track in time.

Davy From Milan recorded a first Open success in the feature event on the card seeing off seven rivals including previous winners in 2013/14 Pocket Reader and Powerstation.  Eoin Doyle’s charge was considerably younger than two of his main rivals here (Powerstation and Sir Frederick) but made the step up to this level comfortably to record a five length success under jockey Derek O’Connor.  Davy From Milan has been a late non-runner from a Hunter Chase already this season but this only reiterated the fact that he should prove up to scoring in maiden company at that level before the season is out.

On Saturday at Larkhill Ask The Weatherman made a winning debut for young trainer Jack Barber in the hands of Will Biddick.  The gelded son of Tamure was a fairly expensive purchase at Doncaster sales last year and connections are sure to be pleased with this from the half-brother to Malcolm Jefferson’s useful performer Tot O’ Whiskey and the five year old looks likely to have a successful rules career in time.

Theatre Queen made amends for her slow start and defeat in an Intermediate event at Wadebridge last month when running out the ready winner of the Club Members Conditions event in the hands of Mark Wall.  The improving seven year old won all three starts in 2013 and given connections decision to keep her in the amateur sport for the time being she looks likely to prove hard to beat in the Coronation Gold Cup back at Larkhill later on and in Hunter Chases too in time.

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Ex-rules horses dominated at Higham on Sunday with the Grade 2 winning novice hurdler Wymott coming from well off the pace in testing conditions to register a success in the feature Mens Open event under Alex Vaughan-Jones.  Wymott had appeared to be out of love with racing having been beaten a minimum of twenty eight lengths in his last four outings under rules, with the latest of those a heavy defeat in an eight runner affair at Newcastle in October 2012 but the testing conditions played to his strengths and he looks capable of more pointing glory and even a Hunter Chase success providing the emphasis is on stamina.

Khyber Kim took his chance in a division of the Novice Riders event and went on to score handsomely under jockey Camilla Henderson.  It will be interesting to see where Marcus Foley’s charge heads next as he clearly retains plenty of ability and should prove up to scoring in a Hunter Chase in the coming months.

Glint Of Steel enhanced his already glowing reputation when chasing down long-time leader I’m So Lucky late on in the hands of trainer Philip Hall to take the Club Members Conditions race in the mud.  The gelding is unbeaten in five starts since transferring to Hall’s yard from Ireland and he justified odds-on favouritism in this sixteen runner event.  He looks another who looks up to scoring in a Hunter Chase later on in the season and he continued a great week for the South East area following Cynthia Haydon’s success on Little Legend at Warwick on Thursday.

Up at Friars Haugh the mare Executive Benefit maintained her unbeaten record this season when making it two wins from two outings in the Restricted event for trainer Joe O’Shea.  Paddy Gerety’s mount had been held up for much of the contest prior to leading from the twelfth and repelling the late challenge of Just Awake.  The seven year old daughter of Beneficial had shown little in three outings under rules  for Sue Smith in 2012/13 but the change in yard appears to have done the trick and she can continue to progress for her shrewd trainer.

Palypso De Creek holds two Hunter Chase entries this weekend
Palypso De Creek holds two Hunter Chase entries this weekend


Rules Round-Up

Willie Mullins saddles the promising looking Measureofmydreams in the bumper at Thurles tomorrow.  The gelding broke his maiden at Quakerstown back in March last year and had been entered up at Leopardstown last weekend but connections have opted to head here, to the same venue they debuted the 2013 Champion Bumper winner at for this six year olds first foray into rules racing.

Tomorrow’s Hunter Chase at Wincanton looks a cracking affair should the meeting go ahead with the 2013 runner-up Coombe Hill facing off against last season’s Ludlow winner Martys Mission and the Barbury Castle Open scorer Shy John amongst others.  Preference on paper would be for the Victor Dartnall-trained Richard’s Sundance who proved that he handles soft ground when scoring at Sandown in February 2013.

Kudu Shine shaped well on his rules debut at Exeter over 2m6f a fortnight ago when a solid six length fourth behind Royal Player for trainer Richard Woollacott.  The eight year old son of Karinga Bay had shown solid form in points winning three of his five outings and the greater test of stamina he’ll encounter should he contest this Friday’s 3 mile Novice Hurdle at Chepstow looks likely to suit him.

Robert Tyner is better known for his successes in handicaps but his Cuil Rogue is of interest if contesting the 2m Maiden Hurdle at Fairyhouse this coming Saturday.  The six year old son of Presenting scored on good ground on his latest outing at Dromahane in March with the third scoring in points since and a number of those in behind showing fair form in similar events to this during the winter.  Cuil Rogue didn’t score until his fourth outing but he made his debut in a hot Maiden event at Lisronagh in December 2012 with the first three all going on to score under rules since.

Southsea Island possibly wasn’t suited by the track when making his rules debut at Downpatrick for former trainer Ian Ferguson back in June.  The son of Heron Island has the uninspiring form figures of FFFPP in points having failed to complete prior to two pulled up outings at Maralin and Oldcastle in March last year.  It’s worth noting though that for each of those two pulled up efforts the gelding had tack issues and he is better judged on his two previous outings at Farmaclaffley and Tattersalls where he had looked the likely winner prior to falling late on.  The six year old did too much too soon at Downpatrick given he took a keen hold throughout the contest and he would be particularly interest if contesting a heavy ground bumper for new trainer Rebecca Curtis at Ffos Las this coming Saturday.

At Wetherby on Saturday May’s Cheltenham Hunter Chase victor Doctor Kingsley could make his return to racing on the track following a success on his return to pointing at Ampton earlier this month.  He could be joined by Classinaglass who scored in a Mens Open at Sheriff Hutton three weeks ago and last season's winner Palypso De Creek amongst others.

The testing 3m3f trip of Sunday’s Musselburgh Hunter Chase could play into the hands of the Katie Scott-trained Moscow Menace who saw off another of the entrants here Barachois Silver to take a Kelso Hunter Chase back in April.  Katie Scott’s yard has been in good form of late registering a double at Friars Haugh last weekend though Moscow Menace himself could finish only second behind course specialist Noir Et Vert.  Special Portrait is a standing dish in these Northern Hunter Chase events and the trip should suit him whilst other notable entries are Southern raider Penmore Mill, Stratford winner That’s Rhythm and the Ian Ferguson-trained Walden who was arguably unlucky not to get off the mark over regulation fences at Limerick in December and is the sole raider from across the sea.

One to note at Punchestown this weekend is the Gordon Elliott-trained Nedzer’s Return who could make his first outing under rules since June 2013 in the banks event at Punchestown this Sunday.  The twelve year old son of Bob’s Return has a cracking record in similar vents between the flags winning twice at Tattersalls Farm and once at Lingstown in that sphere though the twelve year old did unseat regular pilot Annie Bowles at the double bank in a point last month.

Pointing To Winners 2013/14


Action From A Point-To-Point (Courtesy of Jennifer O'Sullivan)

Action From A Point-To-Point (Courtesy of Jennifer O'Sullivan)

Brian Hamilton’s Warne made a winning return to action at Kirkistown in an Open event last Saturday.  The ten year old hadn’tbeen seen out since finishing fourth in a Killarney Hunter Chase having been sent off favourite back in May last year.  The son of Bob Back had earlier appeared a little unlucky in running having been taken wide when beaten less than six lengths in the Aintree Foxhunters over the big fences at the Merseyside venue and he looks likely to chase more Hunter Chase success in the Emerald Isle prior to attempting to avenge that defeat.  On this particular occasion the Declan Lavery-ridden gelding eased clear from two out to see of multiple Open winner Slippers Percy for an exceptionally impressive victory and he looks one to follow in the coming months.

The main action in Ireland on Sunday came at Ballinaboola where the 2012 Hennessy Gold Cup winner Quel Esprit made a successful return to action between the flags to see off Arctic Mick and former stablemate Sports Line by a distance under Katie Walsh.  The ten year old broke his maiden between the flags at Dundrum as a four year old but hadn’t been seen in action since pulling up in the Grand National of 2013.  That Hennessy success rules the grey out of UK Hunter Chases for 2014 so he’s likely to have his next outing on the 2014 Hennessy card at Leopardstown in two weeks time with Patrick Mullins likely to take over in the saddle.

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They were the main successes to take from last weekend’s action but one particular maiden performance stood out down in the South West at Chipley Park.  Tom Lacey’s The Drinkymeister had made a solid debut at Chaddesley Corbett over Christmas when finishing runner-up at the Midlands venue and he went one better when seeing off eight rivals at Chipley Park on Sunday . The performance stood out as much for the winning time which was bettered only by the seventeen runner Mixed Open and the Intermediate event as for the manner of victory.  The Drinkymeister is a five year old son of Heron Island from a family that includes plenty of pointing winners in addition to his rules winning siblings Brenin Cwmtudu and Seren Cwmtudu and he looks likely to have a successful rules career to whoever should buy him at tomorrow’s Brightwells Cheltenham Sale.


Rules Round-UP

All eyes will be on Cheltenham this Saturday for the traditional Cheltenham Festival trials day but the most interesting ex-pointer contesting a major race on this day is surely Harry The Viking at Doncaster.  Paul Nicholls charge was well fancied to score here last month when sent off favourite for a three mile handicap chase on good ground but he proved somewhat disappointing as a tailed off seventh.  The nine year old had excuses on that occasion having been bumped when jumping the first fence and after a further five pound drop he is now down to his last winning mark which came when beating Ikorodu Road over this course in December 2011.

Avidius Cassius could make his belated rules debut in a Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown this coming Saturday and Noel Meade’s charge will be making his first appearance on a track of any sort since scoring in a Maiden Point at Whitwick Manor for former trainer Tom Lacey back in 2012.  The gelding was receiving a hefty weight allowance from his more experienced rivals on that occasion and it will be interesting to see exactly how he fares should he make his hurdling bow in this particular event.

Two former pointers could contest the concluding bumper at Leopardstown on Sunday and they include the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Measureofmydreams.  Trainer Willie Mullins has debuted a number of useful performers at Leopardstown in recent seasons including ex-pointers and subsequent Grade 1 winners Champagne Fever and Ballycasey.  Measureofmydreams scored at the second attempt in points at Quakerstown (incidentally where Champagne Fever scored in his maiden) for his former trainer Pat Doyle when quickening up well to defeat Lough Derg Island by four lengths in a fast time having been left clear by the fall of Guiding George.  Prior to that the son of winning pointer Le Bavellen had finished a solid second at Kildorry on his pointing debut eleven months ago.  The bay gelding hasn’t been seen in action since that Quakerstown performance but he looked potentially very useful on that occasion and looks likely to play a big part in this bumper.  The now Tony Martin-trained Marinero is the second winning pointer in this event having taken a small field Four Year Old Maiden for Eoin Doyle in March last year.  Ridden by jockey Pat Collins the gelding proved one length too good for Germany Calling in a seven runner event at Ballydurn and he looks as if he will benefit for a greater test of stamina than this in time.

Warren Greatrex could saddle the exciting Tsar Alexandre in the opening Novices Hurdle at Sedgefield this coming Sunday.  The gelding registered success at the first attempt in a Bangor-On-Dee point back in March at the chief expense of subsequent dual winner Penang Island with the third and fourth also both tasting success since.  The then Phil Rowley-trained gelding tasted defeat for the first time in his career when a well beaten second having been sent off an odds-on favourite in atrocious conditions in a Restricted event at Maisemore Park the following month.  Nine set out for that particular event with only Tsar Alexandre and the winner Doc Wells completing the course and he shaped like a potentially nice staying chaser but coming from the Greatrex yard he should be able to make his mark over smaller obstacles prior to going chasing.

Four time point winner The Wealerdealer is entered up at Plumpton this coming Monday under race conditions that look far more likely to suit him than those he’s been encountering thus far in his rules career.  The David Pipe-trained gelding has obtained a handicap mark of 101 over hurdles having been well beaten on all three outings in Novice Hurdles at up to 2m6f thus far.  The seven year old son of Vinnie Roe stayed the trip well in points and scored on heavy ground at Larkhill back in March and can take this particular staying hurdle now that he tackles handicap company for the first time.

Divine Intavention is another multiple winning pointer and his biggest claim to fame is that he finished runner-up (albeit at a safe distance) behind Salsify in last year’s Foxhunters’ at the Cheltenham Festival.  The ten year old has yet to face handicap company in his career with the handicapper seemingly of the opinion that the son of Exit To Nowhere has deteriorated in recent seasons having dropped him to a mark of 109 after suffering defeat at the hands of Rumbury Grey at Cheltenham back in May.  The now Martin Keighley-trained gelding has been beaten each of the last twice and hasn’t been seen since finishing runner-up to Hawkeye Native at Fontwell back in May but he’s moved to a useful yard and can take this for owner Harold Wilson.

Pointing To Winners 2013/14


Two veterans of rules racing made the headlines between the flags this past weekend with Powerstation registering a success in the feature Open event at Kilfeacle under jockey Eoin O’Connell.  It looks unlikely that the fourteen year old will be asked to tackle regulation fences again but it was good to see him back in the winners enclosure.

Action From A Point-To-Point

Action From A Point-To-Point

At Ampton in Suffolk the Lauren Braithwaite-trained Berties Dream recorded his first pointing success in the Ladies Open under Gina Andrews.  The gelding justified odds-on favouritism in this competitive event as the former Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle winner saw off Citizens Arrest and co for an easy success.  The Foxhunters at Cheltenham was talked about for the ex-Irish gelding and he could prove a lively outsider for that particular event come March.

The feature event at the new Cocklebarrow course was the Lord Ashton Of Hyde’s Cup over 3m6f.  This particular event went to the in-form favourite Rumbavu who saw off King Fontaine to record his second win in the space of a week having been successful the previous weekend at Larkhill.  Rumbavu seems to be living up to the promise he’d shown earlier on in his career and may prove capable of taking a staying Hunter Chase at some point this season.

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Moscow Blaze was the impressive winner of a Restricted event at Cottenham last month for owner/trainer/rider Page Fuller and the chestnut gelding took the step up to Open company in his stride when running out the easy winner of the Ladies event over 3m3f.  The gelding had looked to have a preference for staying tracks last season and it will be interesting to see how he fares from here on in though connections look sure to attempt to defend the AGA Ladies Final that they won at Stratford back in June.


Rules Round-Up

The Evan Williams-trained Buywise looks the most interesting ex-pointer entered up in the coming days.  The seven year old gelding has had just the two outings for the Welsh handler thus far, initially when making eye-catching late progress having been held up well off the pace in a Novice Hurdle at Chepstow on heavy ground back in December behind stablemate Going Concern and most recently when finishing eighth to It’s A Doddle in a similar event over the minimum trip at Ffos Las a month later.  The son of Tikkanen was with Iain Jardine when attempting to make a successful track debut in a Hunter Chase at Kelso in April and he appeared to be travelling best of all when falling at the third last in a race won by Moscow Menace.  Buywise had earlier justified odds-on favouritism at the second attempt in points when seeing off Raifteiri and six others at Corbridge having finished runner-up at Alnwick on his debut over today’s two and a half mile trip.  His mark of 102 looks attractive and though he’d ideally appreciate further he looks a solid bet at Ludlow under Adam Wedge.

Forgivienne was arguably unlucky not break her hurdling duck at the first attempt under rules when attempting to make all in a moderate Novices Hurdle at this track back in October.  The seven year old daughter of Alflora disappointed next time out here in a conditions event but bounced back to something like her best when finishing runner-up behind impressive winner Kayfleur and reversing form with her debut conqueror Midnight Cataria on good to soft ground here a month ago.  Evan Williams owns and trains the mare who scored in two points from three outings last season including in a Restricted event at Whitfield in April and she can go well in this though ideally would prefer better ground.

Brian Ellison has the now Pat Martin-owned Racing Europe entered up for his rules debut in the concluding bumper at Musselburgh.  Racing Europe scored at the second attempt in points when seeing off Truckers Highway by an easy three lengths at Boulta on good ground two months ago following a promising debut when a staying on last of four finishers behind Clondaw Banker at Curraheen.  Racing Europe hails from the Con O’Keefe yard that has produced the useful novice hurdler Racing Pulse (now with John Quinn).  Both of Racing Europe’s point outings were run in fast times and while he’s likely to make up into a useful staying chaser in time he appears to have the speed to take a bumper such as this.

Island Heights could make his rules debut in the concluding Fixed Brush Novices Hurdle at Haydock this Saturday for the yard of Lucinda Russell following a head victory over Shanty Town in a small field Four Year Old Maiden at Tinahely in October.  The gelding survived a very bad mistake three from home to hold off his rival for the victory on that occasion in a race which was run in a very fast time considering how few runners there were and he will be interesting up against fellow ex-pointers Champagne West, Knockanrawley and a number of other useful performers.

Avidius Cassius has clearly had his problems since making a successful pointing debut for former trainer Tom Lacey at Whitwick Manor nearly two years ago.  The six year old son of Flemensfirth has been subject to some positive reports from new trainer Noel Meade in the past season or so and it will be interesting to see how he fares should he line up in Maiden Hurdle at Naas this Sunday.

Ruapehu could make his handicap debut off a mark of 92 this coming Sunday in a Handicap Chase over just shy of three miles at Taunton.  Charles Whittaker’s son of Presenting scored four times from nine starts between the flags but was let down by poor jumping on more than one occasion.  The eight year old has had two runs in Novice Chases since unseating his rider behind the useful Harbour Court at Cheltenham in March with those events coming over the minimum trip and over 2m5f at Wincanton.  Ultimately the gelding is likely to be seen to best effect over trips in excess of three miles but this looks a useful starting point for his handicapping career though the previously mentioned Buywise is also engaged here.

The penultimate race on Sunday’s Towcester card is scheduled to be a Hunter Chase over the extended three miles.  Yesterday’s Newbury winner Foundry Square is engaged in this though looks an unlikely runner at this stage while the main contenders look to be Iron Chancellor, Palypso De Creek, Lorikarad, Alskamatic and Gumoney.  Iron Chancellor made a winning UK debut between the flags for trainer Sue Popham when making all the running to take a four Confined event at Wadebridge earlier this month having been sent off the odds-on favourite under Michael Legg.  Palypso De Creek won the French Grand National in his youth and has amassed eleven pointing wins in Ladies races since being switched to the amateur discipline in 2011.  Palypso De Creek has also won under similar conditions having justified favouritism in soft ground over 3m1f at Wetherby in February prior to a defeat at Cheltenham and soft ground seems vital to this son of Brier Creek and he’s sure to get that this Sunday.  Lorikarad took this in 2012 but sadly hasn’t been seen in action since tasting success in the prestigious Dunraven Bowl at Chepstow two months later and while he stays the trip well enough the ground may be a touch on the soft side for him.  Alskamatic takes a marked step up in grade here having proven he stays very well with a victory in a Restricted at Larkhill earlier this month, he has just the two wins to his name with both coming at Larkhill (the first one somewhat fortuitously given he was left clear by the fall of subsequent bumper winner Silent Plan) and it will be interesting to see how he fares in this while the final horse I mentioned Gunmoney won over 3m4f in Open company at Garthorpe last season and followed that up with a resounding 35 length success at Dingley in May.  Gunmoney hasn’t raced as yet this season but has solid form having finished runner-up to Doctor Kingsley over 3m 2 1/2f at Cheltenham in May and he is another worth consideration.

Otago Trail caught the eye when seeing off nine rivals in a Five Year Old Geldings Maiden at Tattersalls Farm at the end of October.  Now with Venetia Williams the geldings performance was all the more impressive given he made a very bad mistake at the third from home but still picked up nicely under Jamie Codd to record an easy eight length victory.  His was one of the most impressive maiden wins seen during the autumn season and he looks set for a bright rules career which could commence at Bangor this coming Monday.

Pointing To Winners 2013/14

The big news in points last weekend was useful rules performers Poquelin and Gwanako scoring on their seasonal returns to action.  Poquelin took a competitive Larkhill Club Members event under Will Biddick and Gwanako the AGA Ladies Open at the same course providing Megan Nicholls with her first winner in the process.  Both look up to being competitive in short Hunter Chase’s throughout this season though the three and a quarter miles of the Foxhunters is likely to prove beyond them.


Fences At Larkhill

The first two home in the Mares Maiden at Templenacarriga on Sunday both looked potentially useful mares for rules racing with Carrigmoorna Rock running out the four length winner from Hester Flemen.  The winner, trained by Robert Tyner travelled well into the race prior to easing clear prior to jumping for the last while the Aidan Fitzgerald-trained runner-up showed up well on her debut to finish twelve lengths clear o

f the vastly more experienced third Trendy Native.


Davy From Milan unseated his rider mid-race when making his return to action at Maralin in a race won by subsequent Hunter Chase scorer James in November but he made amends here when taking this winners event by two lengths from Driftashore.  Eoin Doyle’s gelding looks up to taken a Hunter Chase on the track and could prove to be competitive off his current handicap mark of one hundred and thirteen over hurdles.


Riquet who had appeared to be a moderate performer prior to taking his maiden point at Wadebridge a month ago.  Nothing has come out of the race and won as yet but it was the fastest of two divisions of the Open Maiden at the Cornwall venue and if he has regained confidence after that and racing off a mark of seventy five (taking into account being out of the handicap) he could be an attractive betting proposition at Sedgefield.

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With little jumps racing scheduled over the coming days this particular segment is shorter than would usually be the case.  The one horse of interest this coming Friday is Dave Roberts’ charge My Friend 

One of last seasons most impressive pointers Full Shift could make his second start for trainer Nicky Henderson and owner JP McManus this Saturday.  The five year old scored at Newcastle on good ground on his rules debut at the end of November over two miles but he’ll face a very different test should he take up either his Wetherby or Kempton engagements this weekend with much softer underfoot conditions and at least an extra half mile to race over but he looks well up to the task.


The frustrating Filbert Fox holds an entry in the staying Handicap Hurdle at Kelso this Sunday.  He failed to score in points last season despite many promising efforts and races off a pound lower mark than when a solid fifth on his return to rules racing over the extended three miles at Hexham last month.  This step up in trip looks likely to suit Alistair Whillans charge and he can go well in this.


The concluding Hunter Chase at Kelso on Sunday is an interesting affair with the likes Always Right and State Benefit both returning to pointing in addition to last years Aintree Foxhunters winner Tartan Snow and course and distance winner Moscow Menace who made a winning return to action under jockey Jamie Hamilton at Alnwick last month.  Slight preference at this stage would be for the ex-Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Foundry Square who fell heavily hear behind the useful looking Green Flag back in October and he looks likely to prove hard to beat if suffering no ill-effects from that experience.  It is worth noting though that what could potentially be the best race on the card could well be curtailed by balloting regulations relating to the use of the racecourse stables.


Milsean scored impressively at Dromahane in his maiden last season and the five year old son of Milan has switched to the powerful Willie Mullins yard for his rules career. Milsean took that particular four year old maiden event by five lengths from At Your Pearl and although the placed horses have let the form down somewhat he’s moved to a leading yard for this rules debut and can take a hand in the finish.


Monday’s Plumpton card features a highly interesting former pointer in the shape of the Charles Whittaker-trained Ruapehu who scored twice from five starts between the flags in the UK last season.  The eight year old started his career in Ireland where he his first two starts by a combined total of eighteen lengths prior to twice disappointing in Open and Winner Of Three company.  The gelding was an early casually when making his debut over regulation fences in the hot Intermediate Final won by Harbour Court at Cheltenham in March when partnered by Will Biddick and though he’s run poorly on his last two outings in novice company under rules he could take a dramatic step up in trip here which on all known form he should appreciate and he looks set to go well off a mark of ninety two.


Kudu Shine has been mentioned in this column a number of times in recent weeks and Richard Woollacott’s gelding is again entered up early next week with entries at both Lingfield and Ffos Las on Tuesday.  The son of KaringaBay won three from five in points and the eight year old should put up a bold showing if taking up either of Tuesday’s engagements.


Forgivienne is another ex-pointer who could star on Tuesday with the seven year old holding an entry in two handicap hurdles and a novices event at Ffos Las.  The daughter of Alflora would be of particular interest if lining up in the staying handicap hurdle.  The eight year old won twice between the flags though never on ground softer that good, good to soft in places but she’s interesting none the less as her wins were gained at staying courses BarburyCastle and Whitfield.


This week the pointing season really gets into full swing with meetings at Aghabullogue and Kilfeacle in Ireland and at Ampton, Black Forest Lodge, Sheriff Hutton and Cocklebarrow in the UK with the last named boasting in excess of two hundred and fifty entries for its inaugural meeting.

Pointing To Winners 2013/14

Action From A Point-To-Point

Action From A Point-To-Point

The most impressive pointing winner of the weekend was the Simon Andrews-trained Can Mestret who ran out the easy winner of the Restricted event at Cottenham on Sunday.  Partnered by the trainer's daughter Gina the now seven year old son of Millenary made all the running to register a twenty length success on ground that was riding on the soft side of good.  The gelding was following up a win in the short maiden at this track at the opening meeting of the season and he looks like a horse worth following.

The ex-Irish gelding had just the three outings last season for former trainer Dick Lalor finishing in the frame in Maiden events at Glenbane and Affane in the Autumn prior to finishing a good third in a decent looking Cork bumper in May.  Can Mestret isn’t the biggest but he managed to carry a large weight in this and he looks capable of scoring in a sub-three mile Hunter Chase during the season.

Khyber Kim was another to score at the Cambridgeshire venue when running out the easy winner of the Novice Riders event under Camilla Henderson.  The former Champion Hurdle runner-up was held up for much of the race but proved much too good for his rivals as he quickened away in the straight and he seemed to stay this easy three miles well enough to suggest that he can take more points this season while connections also have the option of exploiting his maiden status over fences in the amateur sphere.

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Last seasons Cheltenham Foxhunters third Cottage Oak disappointed once more when finishing out of the frame behind the Ali Galliers-Pratt-ridden Bubbly Breeze in the Ladies Open at Chaddesley Corbett last Friday.  Like the 2012 renewal this meeting was run in a bog and it was the now unbeaten pointer (who’d shown little under rules) who came out on top at the expense of Horsham Lad and the former Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle winner Berties Dream.  Bubbly Breeze has a current chase mark of 78 and a hurdles mark of 85 and he would look very well in on this form should his trainer look to exploit that mark at any point this season.

All three divisions of the Four Year Old Geldings Maiden run at Dromahane in County Cork on Sunday resulted in impressive winners in decent times.  Mount Brandon, a son of Mountain High scored by half a length in decent style under Derek O’Connor for trainer Robert Tyner.  The bay gelding had pulled up on his debut at Askeaton back in February but came good here and appeared to relish the soft to heavy underfoot conditions and he looks capable of taking a bumper in the coming months.  The second division of this went to Free Expression who scored by a length and a half on debut from Present Flight under Kevin Power.  Free Expression has the physique of a chaser but showed plenty of class here and looks capable of making his mark on the track though the best of him won’t be seen until the son of Germany goes over fences.  The final division of this went to a son of Westerner in the shape of Velocity Boy who showed good speed to register a two length success at the expense of Mackerye End and others for trainer Willie Murphy.  Like many by his sire the gelding isn’t the biggest but he demonstrated plenty of speed here and looks capable of tasting success in a bumper in the near future.

The first notable rules horse of the week is the now Lucinda Russell-trained Elfego Baca who could go in the concluding bumper on Friday’s Musselburgh card.  The four year old son of Kalanisi had just the one outing in points in Ireland at Castletown-Geoghegan at the start of October when finished runner-up behind Sleepy Eye in the second division of a Maiden there.  The winner let the form down somewhat when well beaten over hurdles at Wetherby but with the fourth Shady Glen and the fifth One For Arthur both breaking their maiden’s since it’s likely that the form is better than that particular run would suggest and the now Jo Tracey-owned gelding looks set to go well should he take up this engagement.

Kudu Shine held an entry at Chepstow last weekend and he is again entered up this coming Saturday in the staying Novices Hurdle that opens the card at Wincanton (though he’s also entered at Taunton on Monday) .  The gelding won each of his last three outings in points down in the South West including on heavy ground in his Maiden at Buckfastleigh back in March and he should prove capable of taking a hand in this though stamina will clearly be his forte in time.

Thornhill Flyer looks worth keeping an eye on should he contest the opening Maiden Hurdle at Naas this coming Sunday.  The six year old had subsequent winner Fight Away Boys back in third when taking a Five Year Old Maiden at Grennan at the start of November and having finished runner-up on his only start last season behind Lessons In Milan and Dream Flyer (a winner at Wetherby last month) he looks likely to prove a capable recruit for trainer Philip Rothwell.

On Monday the Boulta Maiden winner Benenden could make his rules debut for new trainer Michael Scudamore.  The son of Moscow Society saw off the sketchy jumper Darsis Well for victory on his first completion in points last month on good ground having fallen behind Mercers Court and Pure Poteen at Loughanmore and Ballinaboola respectively during the autumn season and he looks a horse of above average ability who is capable of scoring in a novices event such as this.

The first Hunter Chase of the season takes place in the UK on the Taunton card on Monday and it looks likely to be a hot affair with Black Forest Lodge winner Penmore Mill heading the entries.  Among his opponents could be the Charlotte Fear (nee Tizzard) trained Coombe Hill who also holds an engagement in a point at Larkhill the previous day while Kirkleigh and Charles Bruce both scored in similar events to this in 2013.

This weeks pointing action takes place at Larkhill and Wadebridge in the UK and at Tinahely and at the new track of Templenacarriga in Ireland.

Pointing To Winners 2013/14

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

Tammy's Hill returns at Down Royal this Thursday

Tammy's Hill returns at Down Royal this Thursday

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.

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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.

Pointing To Winners 2013/14

The action got under way at 10:30 for a bumper feast of pointing action at Dromahane for Ireland’s final meeting of the autumn season and the opening Four Year Old Maiden resulted in three winners who look like making into rules performers in time.

Action from Dromahane

Action from Dromahane

The first of those winners was debutant Moores Road who saw off Bold Bachelor and eleven others by three lengths under Declan Queally.  The French-bred son of Vertical Speed raced handily for much of the way and despite making a mistake at a crucial stage of the race he was in front prior to two out and stayed on well.  He appears to have plenty of speed and could well be up to winning a bumper or at least a Maiden Hurdle over a shorter trip for current trainer Michael Hourigan.

Virtuel D’Oudon shares his sire with the leading two mile chaser Sprinter Sacre and while he appears to lack the class and speed of that one he looks like he could develop into a fair horse for staying handicaps on the track.  The gelding had been a good second to Voyage A New York on his second outing at Laurencetown in May prior to finishing a thirty one length sixth behind one of this season’s most impressive youngsters Definitly Red at Loughanmore at the end of October and it would come as no surprise where he to depart Willie Codd’s yard prior to his next outing.

The slowest of the three divisions resulted in an easy six length success for the Jamie Codd ridden Master Of Verse.  The gelding led prior to entering the straight and was clear before jumping the last for what resulted in an easy success for the son of Milan.  The four year old appears to have plenty of class about him and can reasonably expected to make his presence felt under rules in the coming months.

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Another race to divide was the Five Year Old Geldings Maiden with the opening division going to Kieran Roche’s Just Likeold Times who looks a potentially useful staying chaser in scoring here at the third attempt having made virtually all under Bon O’Neill.  It’s of great credit to the gelding that he’s come back from two falls when close-up back in March including here on his debut to prove successful and he’s clearly been well schooled by connections during the Summer.  The gelding is by the little known sire Zerpour who was a late retirement to stud and has yet to sire a winner under rules – this fellow should however correct that in due course when there’s an emphasis on stamina.

For Gortnatona recorded a success at the fourth attempt for trainer Mick Winters in the Five And Six Year Old Mares event and the daughter of Oscar could bid for further success on a possible rules debut at either Limerick (Mares Bumper) or at Thurles (Mares Maiden Hurdle) in the next week or so.  Owner Donal Sheahan had great success with his mare For Bill (also trained by Winters) and given the way that For Gortnatona stayed on well to see off a fair looking field here she could well follow in For Bill’s footsteps in scoring under rules.



Rules Round-Up

Railway Vic was given a positive mention here two weeks ago prior to disappointing at a big price in a six runner event at this track under Hadden Frost.  Jimmy Frost’s charge steps up to what would appear to be a more suitable trip and contests this amateur riders event off a five pound lower mark and having won three points under today’s jockey Briony Frost last season they look a fair bit to follow up under rules in this low grade event.

Medieval Chapel has had a number of entries over the past month and he could make his debut for trainer Nicky Henderson in the 2m6f Maiden Hurdle at Ascot on Friday.  The five year old had race out of the Ian Ferguson for his pointing career in Ireland which concluded with two victories in the North.  The latest of those on yielding to soft was an impressive success in a small field with the runner-up scoring in a point two starts later.  It’s slightly concerning that the race in the main was full of exposed horses with little rules form but he is of interest in what looks a hot looking event.  Port Melon featured in the ten to follow and would be dropping down in grade as well as heading upwards in trip here and is another of interest.

Padge is another who’s cropped up more than once in this column in recent weeks and Evan Williams expensive purchase holds an engagement in the bumper at Uttoxeter this coming Friday.  The four year old son of Flemensfirth saw off subsequent graded hurdle winner Very Wood and five others including rules scorers Mountain Tunes and Wildcatted and the promising looking Straidnahanna in a heavy ground 2m4f Four Year Old Maiden at Punchestown in February and having joined a good yard he can take a hand in this.  Mercers Court is another with an Irish pointing win to his name, this coming at Loughanmore on soft ground at the end of October and having run well in two decent quality bumpers at Punchestown and Downpatrick in the Spring he looks worth keeping an eye on as he could make his debut for Newmarket handler Neil King in this concluding bumper.

Sybarite proved disappointing when beaten twenty three lengths by Beat That at Ascot even when taking into account the significant drop in trip he was encountering.  The seven year old son of Dark Moondancer featured in the ten to follow column from back in October and he’s worth siding with should he take his chance in the 0-120 Handicap Hurdle over three miles at the Berkshire venue on Saturday.  It’s worth remembering that Sybarite won over 3m2f in points last season in the pointing Gold Cup at Chaddesley Corbett and given I was of the opinion that he would prove well handicapped for staying chases off a mark of 120 he has to be of interest this weekend off a handicap mark of 112.  Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge was running the likes of Champion Court and Chablais close over hurdles whilst runs behind useful chasers such as Grands Crus and Solix show he has a decent level of ability and he can take this returned to a much more suitable trip for his handicap debut over hurdles.

The concluding bumper at Navan this Saturday plays host to a number of interesting former pointers in the shape of Boondooma, On Your Eoin, Killultagh Vic and Wounded Warrior.  The last named has already featured in this column and having seen off the impressive Loughanmore winner Definitly Red at Maralin in March the Noel Meade-trained son of Shantou finished a solid third to Shaneshill in a bumper at Naas.  Shaneshill is held in high regarded by his own trainer Willie Mullins and it will be interesting to see how Wounded Warrior fares in the market in relation to that ones stablemate Killultagh Vic.  Killultagh Vic had just the one start for his former trainer Colin McBratney with that resulting in a fourteen length fourth to Aircraftman who was running a sound race at Wexford earlier this season prior to falling with the Southwell bumper winner Cogry finishing runner-up.  That particular race was held at Largy and run in a decent time and Killultagh Vic looks likely to go well on his debut for the Champion Trainer.  On Your Eoin is a second ex-pointer who could represent Noel Meade here and he hasn’t been seen in action since making a winning debut for the Wexford-based yard of Willie Codd at Maralin in April 2011.  The now six year old saw off Clondaw Warrior by six lengths with a further twenty lengths back to UK pointing winner Boardwalk Empire.  This was a particularly impressive performance in a small enough field with the best horse to emerge from the event being Peter Fahy’s Owega Star who has won and been competitive in graded races since being sent under rules and though coming off a prolonged absence it will be interesting to see how On Your Eoin if he runs this weekend.  Boondooma tasted pointing success in a Lemonfield five year old event on heavy ground in March 2012 and has since run well behind the likes of Briar Hill and Sizing Tennessee.  The son of Westerner is a well-bred sort given he’s a brother to the high class pair of Rocky Creek and Tell Massini and though chasing is likely to be his game in the long run he can make his presence felt dropped back into a bumper after a couple of outings in Maiden Hurdle’s in February and March last season.

Finally I’d like to wish all readers a very Merry Christmas and with no pointing action over the coming days next week’s column will focus primarily on the action under rules over the Festive period.

Pointing To Winners 2013/14

Evan Williams - Well Represented This Weekend

Evan Williams - Well Represented This Weekend

Tattersalls Farm staged a bumper card on Sunday with Tell Us More running out the impressive three length winner of the Four Year Old Maiden for trainer Willie Codd.  Ridden by the trainers brother Jamie the son of Scorpion was held up for much of the contest and having been badly hampered at the second last he ran on well late on to quicken clear.  The gelding was a relatively expensive purchase at Goffs in June 2012 and he will go through the ring at Brightwells this coming Friday.

Harry Kelly has made a name for himself with his bumper performers on the track but it was with the twice raced mare Springbelle that he shone in the Mares Maiden at Tattersalls Farm last Sunday.  The five year old daughter of Golan had two outings last season, firstly when finishing a good third behind Shantou Shine at Laurencetown and then two weeks later when a disappointing seventh behind Bartlemy.  The bay mare has evidently strengthened up over the Summer and she easily came clear of her fourteen rivals here under Pat King and looks capable of making an impact in staying races on the track.

The second meeting in Ireland last weekend came at the Avaune track in County Cork where Rodger Sweeney’s Corporate Box finally broke her maiden at the sixth attempt having finished second three times and third once.  The daughter of Witness Box had made an exceptionally promising debut at Killeagh back in January when beaten just a neck by Dashing Lady who’s been competitive in maiden hurdles on the track since.  A bad blunder had cost her many lengths when pulled up on her next outing at Tallow and the errors nearly came back to haunt the Colman Sweeney ridden mare here as she was five clear when making a mistake at the second last.  Corporate Box looks like a useful staying prospect though she has plenty of speed and looks more than capable of registering a success on the track this winter for her current trainer.



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Rules Round-Up

Racing Pulse is unlikely to be much of a price for his hurdling debut for new trainer John Quinn but he’s worth keeping an eye on for the future in the novice hurdle.  The son of Garuda was previously trained by Mick Winters for whom he was a pointing winner back in May and a bumper winner by fourteen lengths at Naas in October.  Subsequently sold privately for a large amount he has joined a shrewd yard who look sure to have their eyes on Cheltenham with their new recruit.

Down at Taunton The Rattler O’Brien makes his second start for trainer Martin Hill in the staying Handicap Hurdle.  The gelding scored easily at Wincanton in October on his first outing since leaving Andrew Pennock having been successful in all three of his pointing starts in the UK and runner-up in a Hunter Chase at Fontwell back in May.  The seven year old son of Beneficial has been put up just seven pounds for his latest cheeky win and with the extra distance likely to suit he looks likely to prove tough to beat for his shrewd trainer.

Lienosus had looked a useful hurdler last season when placed behind Wonderful Charm and Clondaw Kaempfer at Chepstow and Haydock respectively and he looks likely to go well should he be declared for the handicap hurdle over three miles at Bangor this Friday.  The Evan Williams-trained son of Old Vic scored on two of his four pointing starts in 2011/12 and ran well when third behind Timesremembered in a Grade 2 novices event at Chepstow on his first outing since falling heavily on handicap debut at the Grand National meeting back in April.

Padge was an expensive purchase for the Evan Williams yard earlier this year having seen off the now 135 rated hurdler Very Wood on his debut at Punchestown’s point-to-point course back in February.  That form looks strong with the third winning a point and scoring on his hurdling debut at Towcester last month and the fourth shaping well in a couple of hot looking novice hurdles having broken his maiden at the fourth attempt between the flags.  The half a mile drop back in trip looks unlikely to inconvenience him and he should be capable of making his mark up against other pointing winners such as River Clare, Master Dee, Onenightinvienna and Desoto Count in the concluding bumper at Bangor.

Udo’s Choice is the sole horse of any real interest racing in the regulation races this coming Friday with Philip Rothwell’s charge engaged in a handicap hurdle at Downpatrick.  The five year old son of Presenting has looked assured of a maiden point success at some point this Autumn having finished third twice and second once from four starts.  The gelding made his latest appearance at Lisronagh on the opening day of the month when taking a fall when looking booked for a place at best behind Final Pass on good ground.  Having run behind decent looking prospects like Otago Trail thus far this season a mark of 85 doesn’t look unreasonable for him despite his poor performance off a higher mark when a seemingly unfancied 33/1 chance at Kilbeggan on his handicap debut back in July.

Both James and Sam Cavallaro have received positive mentions in this column during the winter and they could line up in the Hunters Chase that wraps up the Downpatrick card this Friday.  The two at the top of the weights Ibetellingyoualie and Loch Dara finished first and second in the Wexford Hunters Chase last month with the latter getting the better of last seasons Clonmel winner in a competitive affair.  James saw off a fair field in impressive fashion at Maralin on yielding to soft and as such was value for a fair bit more than the two and a half length success that he officially recorded.  The son of Jimble has now won both of his starts since finishing third to El Grande on debut at Loughanmore in April and a Hunter Chase of this nature would look to be within his grasp.  Sam Cavallaro would appear to need fast ground to be seen at his best and as such David Christie’s charge must be rated an unlikely runner should the Northern Ireland track receive any more rain.  His last two wins (from three in total) have both come on good to firm ground with his winners success at Cregg in October representing an improvement on his fifth to Adamstown on good to yielding on his second run of the season.  Subsequently placed in a weak Open race at Ballinaboola in which only four completed he looks likely to play a hand should the course dry out.

Dreamy George recorded his first success of the season in a point at Cottenham on the opening day of the month and he holds an entry in the 2m3f Novices Chase at Doncaster this weekend.  Dreamy George could face the likes of Fox Appeal, Funny Star, Simply Ned and Ahyaknowyerself who are all rated in the high 130’s or 140’s over fences with the likes of Karinga Dancer, Open Hearted and Up And Go amongst the useful hurdlers also entered for the event.  The drop back in trip looks likely to suit John Ferguson’s son of Goldmark and while he disappointed when last seen over regulation fences behind Penmore Mill in a Hunter Chase at Fakenham in March he looks worth keeping an eye on in this, though his future looks likely to lie in handicaps.

Man With Van represents the James form that could be on show at Downpatrick on Friday given the pair competed in the same Winners event at Maralin last month.  Stuart Crawford’s charge was having his second outing between the flags having taken a Taylorstown Maiden on soft ground back in May but he got no further than the ninth fence last month and is another who is worth keeping an eye on his rules debut here while Enjoy Responsibly looks a more likely sort having taken a Lisronagh Maiden on good to firm ground last season.  The underfoot conditions are a concern for the four year old son of Flemensfirth but he’s been entered up a number of times in recent weeks and Henry De Bromhead looks unlikely to run his charge unless underfoot conditions suit the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding.


The final pre-Christmas pointing meetings of the season take place this coming weekend with a 10:30am start at Dromahane in County Cork this Sunday being the sole fixture in Ireland while in the UK the action takes place at opposite ends of the country with Alnwick in Northumberland and Wadebridge in Cornwall staging meetings.


Pointing To Winners 2013/14

Action from a point-to-point

Action from a point-to-point

With four meetings in all this past weekend it was a good weekend for pointing followers with meetings at Ballindenisk, Lisronagh, Black Forest Lodge and Cottenham.

The most impressive maiden winner in Ireland last weekend was surely the four year old Oficial Ben who made all to see off thirteen others by an eased down six lengths under jockey Kevin Power.  The Terry Ryan-owned gelding was a relatively inexpensive purchase as a three year old store at Tattersalls Ireland in August 2012 and looks likely to make a big impression on the track.  The son of Beneficial appears to have sufficient speed to go on to take a bumper in the coming weeks should connections take that route but it looks more than likely that he’ll head for the sales later this month.

Benzel is another son of Beneficial to impress in victory last weekend when the five year old took the Five Year Old Geldings Maiden at the Ballindenisk track, again partnered by Kevin Power.  The runner-up, Dark Outsider, had some solid form last season but Benzel readily went past the early leaders approaching the second last and was clear prior to taking the final fence in isolation for a five length victory.

There were two meetings on the first weekend of the UK season, Dreamy George running out an impressive winner of the PPORA Club Members Conditions event at Cottenham.  Trained by local trainer John Ferguson, the favourite came 3 ½ lengths clear of a decent sized field that included useful performers Galbally King and Hand Act Or Part.  Dreamy George looks likely to go under rules next with a 2 1/2m Novice Chase looking the most likely route for the son of Goldmark who disappointed on his only outing over fences on soft ground in a Hunter Chase at Fakenham in March.

There was little to note down at Black Forest Lodge though Penmore Mill’s winning return to action in the Mixed Open under Tom Ellis bodes well for his chances of improving on his Hunter Chase record this season.  The eight year old has already scored in three of his five Hunter Chases and connections will surely be looking to improve on that this season with the Foxhunters at Cheltenham likely to be a target for the son of Shernazar.

There are three meetings this weekend, with a 10am start due to the likely large fields at Tattersalls Farm in County Meath while they also race at Avaune in Ireland and a 12pm start for the UK meeting at Barbury Castle.  Ten to follow horse Theatre Queen is engaged in the Intermediate event at Barbury Castle where she could attempt to maintain her unbeaten record for trainer Mark Wall.

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Foxhunters third Cottage Oak is engaged in the Ladies Open at the Wiltshire track though the most intriguing race is surely the 2m 4f Club Members Maiden that wraps up the card.  Leading trainer Tom Lacey has two engaged in this with both Illicit Illusion and Thedrinkymeister possible contenders for last years winning trainer with Siege Of Troy for Richard Barber another interesting contender.


Rules Round-Up

Former point trainer Hugo Froud did well with his string between the flags and he could saddle the winning pointer Caspian Piper for a return to handicaps in the Novices Handicap Chase at Leicester.  The seven year old gelding took a Maiden event at Cothelstone after a few promising efforts in fair contests early last season and followed that up in his second outing in a Restricted at Holnicote in May .  His best outing for Mouse Morris in Ireland came over three miles on a faster surface and that appeared to suit him in his UK points, though fast ground doesn’t appear to be a necessity for him and he could be interesting at a decent price in this.

Starburst Diamond tackles a five runner field for trainer Charles Whittaker and jockey Kevin Jones at Wincanton and it’s worth disregarding his recent form over regulation fences due to the soft and heavy ground being against the eleven year old.  The son of Old Vic registered just the one success during the last pointing season when taking a three runner Members event at Larkhill on good to firm ground though he twice ran well subsequently at the same track and at Chaddesley Corbett.  They were particularly decent races for the grade and he was only caught late on when last seen in action in May and off a mark of 95 he looks more than capable of taking a hand in this should the enigmatic gelding feel like it.

Medieval Chapel has had plenty of entries without running in the past week or so and he again features in the Novice Hurdle events this week with engagements at Chepstow (Saturday) and Warwick (Sunday) both over around 2 1/2m.  As mentioned previously the grey son of Ballingarry won twice in points last season for Ian Ferguson scoring at Tyrella and Kirkistown and he looks likely to prove profitable to follow in these sort of races over the coming months.

Wynn Darwi has shown promise in a couple of his hurdles outings thus far on good ground and this drop back to 2m3f could be just what Debra Hamer’s charge needs on his handicap debut.  Wynn Darwi shaped well in his pointing outings, most notably when clear prior to falling at the second last at Bredwardine back in May when partnered by Evan David.  Jumping has always been his downfall as he fell on his previous outing when he again led prior to coming down at the second last.  Both of those outings suggest this son of Anshan has enough ability to be competitive in a race of this nature though it’s worth taking into account that any rain is likely to hinder the eight year olds chances.

Railway Vic is another ex-pointer who could turn up at Exeter this Friday and he would come into this on the back of a promising season in points in 2013.  The six year old gelding showed useful form in Irish points in 2011 and a somewhat lacklustre rules career on that side of the Irish Sea has resulted in a mark of just 95 for his UK rules debut.  Railway Vic has generally weakened late on in his point outings thus far and as a result I expect this drop to 2m1f to be in his favour.  Jimmy Frost’s gelding registered three successes last season under the trainer’s daughter Briony including a Restricted event at Flete Park prior to finishing runner-up in a Ladies Open in which the useful favourite fell at the opening fence.  Like Wynn Darwi he would be another for whom any rain would be a negative.

A number of pointers could take part in the Grade 2 Neptune Investments Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown this coming Friday including Oscar Fortune and Ballyalton who won successive renewals of the 4yo Maiden at Boulta’s November meeting (Ballyalton in 2011 and Oscar Fortune in 2012).  They could be joined by the Paul Nicholls-trained Saint Roque in the event who’s starting to fulfil the early promise he showed when easily taking a Dromahane Maiden in March 2011.

Trainer Dan Skelton has made a positive start to his training career and he could saddle the six year old gelding Toby Lerone in Saturday’s Grand Sefton Handicap Chase over the National course at Aintree.  The son of Old Vic has finally started to confirm his early promise when running out the winner of a traditionally hot Barbury Castle Maiden event as a four year old in December 2011.  Toby Lerone has now won his last two including off a four pound lower mark than he’ll race off here on heavy ground at Lingfield a month ago.  His rookie handler is now 2 from 3 with this half-brother to the useful chaser Mr Warbucks and he looks capable of going well off a light weight (out of the handicap should top weight Wishfull Thinking run) in this big race.

The opening event at Chepstow this Saturday features a number of former pointers with the likes of Big Hands Harry, Buywise, Gunner Fifteen, Medieval Chapel, Midnight Thunder and Pamplona Run all engaged t the five day stage.  Medieval Chapel has already been touched on elsewhere while Midnight Thunder is another who holds other engagements in the coming days.  Gunner Fifteen proved to be one of the most impressive bumper winners of the season so far when easily winning at Uttoxeter last month for trainer Fergal O’Brien and it’s not surprise to see this Inch Maiden winning son of Westerner switched to hurdles so soon.  The gelding made all last month on soft ground and he appears to have plenty of reserves of stamina as well as a lot of class with this more testing track likely to suit.  Big Hands Harry has had just the one outing thus far with that coming when seeing off ten others to take the Four Year Old Maiden at Ballysteen at the end of April.  The two directly behind Big Hands Harry on that occasion have both tasted success in points since and this drop in trip shouldn’t inconvenience him too much.  Two ex-British pointers currently engaged in this are Harry Fry’s Pamplona Run and the Evan Williams-trained Buywise.  Pamplona Run was unbeaten in two starts as a five year old last season with the most recent of those seeing him justify odds-on favouritism in a Restricted event at Upcott Cross prior to which he’d easily taken an Open Maiden event at Trebudannon in Cornwall.  The son of Flemensfirth was green on both occasions and should shape better for the experience.  Owner Graham Roach has regularly debuted some of his better youngsters in points in recent seasons and this one out of the Bilboa was one of the better bred maidens to run in 2012/13.  Buywise received an eyecatching ride on his debut here two weeks ago when held up in rear for much of the race prior to making good progress under tender handling in the straight under jockey Adam Wedge.  The horse probably wants a stiffer test than the 2m1f he encountered there and this trip should suit though there’s a possibility that he will be more of a long-term prospect.

Onenightinvienna took a Four Year Old event at Inchydoney at the end of May and he is taken to make a winning rules debut for the Philip Hobbs yard in the concluding bumper on Saturday’s Chepstow card.  The son of Oscar had finished fourth behind Minella Scamp on his debut at Inch two months earlier but he stepped up on that on the better ground at Inchydoney to see off subsequent pointing winners Draycott Place and Royal Raise in addition to Donald McCain’s Musselburgh winner Theatrical Style with just the four completing in gruelling fourteen runner affair.  Amongst his rivals here could be Themanfrom Minella who looked a more than useful stayer when winning a division of the Four Year Old Maiden at Templemore back in April for then trainer John Nallen and he was subsequently sold to trainer Ben Case later that month.  There was a distance back to the third at Templemore and this brother to the useful, if a little headstrong Marky Bob can make his presence felt on his rules debut despite his trainers relative inexperience with bumper performers in recent seasons.

The Philip Fenton-trained Casino Markets again holds engagements this week in bumpers at both Navan on Saturday and Cork on Sunday.  The son of Fruits Of Love broke his maiden at the first attempt at Ballydarragh at the end of March when good late jumping saw him see of Beallandendall on soft ground in an eleven runner event and he looks worth noting should he turn out this weekend.  Also engaged in the Navan bumper is Philip Rothwell’s Thornhill Flyer who stepped up on his Tinahely debut in March to score from Oakledge Lad and subsequent winner Fight Away Boys on good ground whilst both Noel Meade pair of Sucker Punch (a winner last season) and Wounded Warrior (already bumper placed) could also contest this.

Bothar Clei has two engagements this coming weekend at Cork with entries in both the opening Maiden Hurdle and the two mile Handicap Hurdle for his trainer Daniel Murphy.  The eight year old showed good form over staying trips on the track back in May 2012 when finishing close-up behind Kilcross Boy and Boss Croaker on good ground, including here at Cork.  The gelding spent last season racing between the flags where he went through the grades, ending it with a Winner Of Three success at Kilfeacle in January.  Bothar Clei is clearly a horse with a fair level of ability given he saw off one of the UK’s leading pointers in the shape of Woodview Prince (the only horse to defeat leading Foxhunters contender Harbour Court) to take his Maiden at Knockanard in February 2011 and he is interesting here for all that a greater test of stamina would likely suit him better.  The seven year old son of Beat All has already made the frame off a three pound higher mark when third on soft to heavy ground here in April under amateur rider Gerry Mangan and he could go well here for his local trainer.

Willie Mullins could unleash the Andrea & Graham Wylie-owned Black Hercules in the concluding bumper at Punchestown this Sunday.  The four year old took a Dromahane Maiden back in April by 6 lengths from Are You Listening and Like It A Lot in impressive fashion.  The last named was just touched off in a Galway bumper at the end of last month while the fifth Valgor Du Ronceray has also run well in a bumper since and Black Hercules looks a potential star of the future here.

Pointing To Winners 2013/14

Eoin O'Sullivan and The Hollinwell at Boulta on Sunday (Courtesy Jennifer O'Sullivan)

The Hollinwell (Eoin O'Sullivan) (Courtesy Jennifer O'Sullivan)


The pointing action focused on Lingstown and Boulta this weekend with competitive racing at both venues this past Sunday.

There was little of real note from the youngsters on show at Lingstown though the Denis Murphy-trained Tricky could be the type to win a bumper judged on his victory in a fast time in the second division of the Four Year Old Maiden.  Jamie Codd rode the son of Indian Danehill as they saw off Laraghcon Boy and Play The Ace by 2 lengths and 1 ½ lengths with a 25 length gap back to the fourth placed runner Conas Toi.  The feature Open banks race was won by the Kevin Power-ridden Duers who saw off David Christie’s The Last Derby by an easy 10 lengths with 3 parts of a length back to Long Strand.  Duers had twice run well this season when runner-up to Clancy Strand at Tinahely and then when fourth to the ill-fated Backstage in a banks event at Tattersalls Farm last month and this formerly useful chaser appears to be in good heart at the moment and may even be up to competing in a minor Hunter Chase at some point this Winter.

Con O’Keeffe sent out Racing Pulse to win a point prior to his expensive sale and Racing Europe looked a similarly useful horse when running out the 3 length winner of the Four Year Old Maiden event under Declan Queally.  The gelding owed part of his victory to his jumping though a right-handed jump at the last didn’t help the son of Kayf Tara though he does look speedy enough to make an impressive in a bumper when he goes under rules, which will presumably be in the not too distant future.  The Open race at Boulta went to the Eugene O'Sullivan-trained The Hollinwell who was ridden by the trainers son Eoin and was registering his second success of the season having taken a similar event at Grennan last month.



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Rules Round-Up

At Thurles this Thursday afternoon the Oliver McKiernan trained On The Shannon could make his handicap debut in the 15:20 2m 2f Handicap Hurdle at the Tipperary venue.  The son of Presenting scored in a point at Tattersalls Farm on heavy ground last December and was led out unsold for a decent price at the sales subsequently.  The five year old has been disappointing in the main under rules but did show up well at Leopardstown on his return to rules racing last December prior to weakening and he also ran well over nearly three miles at Navan nearly three weeks later.  The gelding is a half-brother to the useful Linnel and comes here fresh off a break and can take a hand on his handicap debut.

Definite Memories has joined trainer David Bridgwater since her last outing when running out the odds-on winner of a Towcester Novice Hurdle for her former trainer Venetia Williams.  The six year old is of interest to this column due to her Boulta Maiden success two years ago when scoring by four lengths from Lady Milano.  The mare was always going to make a much better chaser than a hurdler and it will be interesting to see how she fares against the higher rated pair of Kentford Grey Lady and Ballinahow Star.

Wilcos Mo Chara was running well on his pointing debut at Ballindenisk behind the impressive Carraig Mor prior to falling last December and he gained compensation at the fifth attempt at Dawstown at the start of May when seeing off Fabulous Fun by 10 lengths.  The fourth on that occasion Royal Ripple went close on his rules debut at Hexham last month and the now Donald McCain-trained Wilcos Mo Chara could makes his own rules debut in a Bumper at either Musselburgh or Sedgefield in the coming days.

At Newbury this Friday the impressive Ballindenisk winner Tagrita could make her debut for leading trainer Paul Nicholls.  The daughter of King’s Theatre easily saw off subsequent chasing winner Liz’s D’Estruval under a good front running ride from jockey Declan Queally when under the care of Adrian Maguire.  Maguire has sent out the likes of Denman to win points since retiring from race riding and he will be hoping that this mare can develop into a leading performer under rules for the same trainer.

Bitofapuzzle ran out a 10 length winner from Setters Gift on her pointing debut at Larkhill back in February.  The daughter of Tamure has moved to the yard of Harry Fry for her rules career and given she couldn’t have been more impressive in her pointing success it will be interesting to see how she fares should she take on previous winners Falcon’s Present, Shanendou and fellow pointing scorer Jennys Surprise and co in a Mares Bumper at Bangor this Saturday.

The Ballydarragh winner Casino Markets could make his rules debut for the yard of Philip Fenton at Fairyhouse on Saturday.  The five year old scored by 2 lengths in his Maiden at the end of March thanks in part due to some slick jumping late and he looks a promising individual though it’s worth noting that his trainer has a healthy 17% strike rate at this venue.

There are a number of ex-pointers engaged at Newbury on Saturday and a success for the Sue Smith-trained Cloudy Too would provide Worcestershire handler Mike Hammond’s academy with their biggest success so far.  The gelding saw off a couple of useful rivals, most notably the multiple point winner Findlay’s Find when taking a 2m 4f Cold Harbour Maiden in May 2010 and he will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Teeton Mill who was another British pointer who went on to Hennessy Gold Cup success.

Of the entries elsewhere on Saturday the Toomebridge Maiden winner Five In A Row could bid to get off the mark at the first attempt over hurdles at Newcastle following an easy success in a useful looking Carlisle Bumper last month.  Among his rivals for the 2m 6f Novices’ Hurdle could be Boulta Maiden winner from 2011 Ballyalton, bumper winner Captain Cutter and fellow pointing winner Oscar Rock who’s record under rules so far includes a Listed Bumper and an easy hurdling success on his debut in this sphere at Wetherby at the start of the month.

Full Shift was one of the most impressive pointing winners in the UK last season  and he is another to be engaged in a Novice Hurdle at Newcastle.  Now with Nicky Henderson having been purchased privately by JP McManus the son of Ballingarry shaped like a useful stayer in the making when racing handily and leading from the fourth last to take a 17 runner event under Sam Drinkwater for trainer Tom Lacey and he looks likely to prove hard to beat in the concluding event on the card.

Medieval Chapel looked a touch weak early on in his career when a beaten favourite on three consecutive occasions since finishing runner-up at Lismore in March 2012 but the grey son of Ballingarry came good at Tyrella in March and duly followed up at Kirkistown in a winners race for trainer Ian Ferguson.  The gelding has since joined Nicky Henderson and follows a similar route to another Ronnie Bartlett-owned grey in the shape of Simonsig and whilst Medieval Chapel is unlikely to turn out as good as that one he can surely pay his way this season.



Pointing To Winners 2013/14

The field for the Winners of One (courtesy of Susie Cahill)

The field for the Winners of One (courtesy of Susie Cahill)

The Iveagh Hunt Foxhounds meeting at Maralin, County Down was the sole meeting on the Saturday and this provided one of the most impressive performances of the weekend when the Ian Ferguson-trained James took the winners event by an easy two and a half lengths under jockey Willie Thompson.  The son of Jimble had been beaten eleven lengths into third on his only outing of last season at Loughanmore on good ground prior to breaking his maiden at the same track at the end of October.  The six year old travelled well on this occasion prior to quickening clear after the last and this marks him out as a horse who could have a future under rules, particularly given how few horses are capable of scoring at the first attempt in winners grade.  A note of caution regarding the form is the relatively early departure of two of his main market rivals in the shape of Man With Van and the maiden hurdle placed Davy From Milan who had both exited the race by the ninth fence.


The other noteworthy performance of the meeting from a rules perspective came with the Colin McBratney-trained seven year old Davyroy in the six year old and up geldings maiden.  Niall McParlan did the steering on the son of Balla Cove and he quickened clear of the runner-up Kerrib Castle having led before the second last.  Roy Carlisle owns the gelding and he’s run respectably in handicap company in the past and could prove capable of scoring off a mark of 105.


Trainer Donnchadh Doyle’s luck was out this past weekend with his Go Conquer coming down three from home when still in contention at Maralin and his King’s Theatre gelding Rough King falling when two lengths clear in an eight runner event at Affane the following day.  The gelding was a relatively expensive purchase at twenty eight thousand euro’s at Tattersalls as a three year old in June 2012 and was making his debut in this.  Having led for much of the contest the gelding held a two length advantage prior to coming down at the final fence leaving Arden Denis to claim victory.  Whilst Arden Denis looks a potential rules performer at a lower level in his own right he had proven no match for the Monbeg Syndicate owned horse to this point and rough King should be noted if taking in a bumper this winter.


John Ryan’s Draycott Place was arguably the most impressive winner of the weekend when taking the Four Year Old Maiden at Ballingarry by fifteen lengths in a very fast time.  The son of Oscar was having his fourth career start and appeared to have come on for his run at Glenbane at the end of last month where he fell at the last when looking held.  The gelding had just the two outings in the Spring, those coming when third to Red Devil Lads at Templemore and when runner-up to Onenightinvienna at Inchydoney.  The softer ground looked to be to Draycott Place’s liking on Sunday and he looks set to have a bright future under rules.

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Dinnie’s Vinnie was another horse to go clear in a maiden event prior to falling at the last when contesting the Five and Six Year Old Geldings Maiden at Ballingarry on Sunday.  The Denis Cusack-owned gelding was returning from a nineteen month lay-off having pulled up behind Thomond in a four year old event at Kilmallock on his second career start in April 2012 and having raced in mid-division for much of this contest he went clear entering the straight prior to falling at the last.


The other impressive performance on the Ballingarry card came from Friends In Time who ran out the easy winner of the Six Year Olds And Up Geldings Maiden by ten lengths in an eighteen horse field.  Friends In Time made progress mid-race and led entering the straight prior to quickening clear in the closing stages.  This probably wasn’t the strongest of races with the runner-up Jack Aboo showing a marked improvement in form here having finished well beaten in three bumpers and a distant second in a four runner field at Rockfield two weeks ago.


The pointing action this weekend takes place at Lingstown in County Wexford and Boulta in Cork with the following weekend marking the start of the British season and what looks set to be a good weekend’s action with four meetings, two on each side of the Irish Sea.



Rules Round-Up

A number of pointers go to post in the finale at Market Rasen on Thursday with Kilcooley representing Charlie Longsdon being one who already has useful form under rules having finished runner-up on his debut in this sphere at Carlisle last month following up a solid second at Dromahane in March.  Of his rivals the Steve Gollings stable do well at this track and are represented by owner Pat Martin’s Ballysteen winner Jac The Legend.  Jac the Legend won by five lengths on that occasion and he looks likely to play a hand here despite the form of that maiden success not working out.


Friday could see the return to hurdles of last season’s five time point scorer Sybarite for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.  The French-bred seven year old raced for the Phil Rowley yard last season where he started his campaign with a solid success at Larkhill and it’s somewhat surprising to see him entered over hurdles here, particularly in light of him looking well handicapped off a mark of 120 over fences based on his pointing form.  Sybarite also holds an entry in a Fixed Brush Novice’s Hurdle at Haydock on the same afternoon.


Should Sybarite head to Haydock he could face some fellow ex-pointers in the shape of impressive Huntingdon bumper winner Urban Hymnwho broke his maiden at the third attempt in the UK last season and Medieval Chapel who took a while to find his feet in points but scored on his last two outings for Ian Ferguson prior to joining Nicky Henderson.  The entry of Classic Move who scored at Guilsborough in April prior to two useful performances when third at Punchestown and when easily winning a bumper at Sedgefield adds spice to what could prove to be a hot field for a race of this nature.


In the concluding Huntingdon bumper this coming Saturday the Charlie Longsdon-trained  Battle Born and the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Fort Worth could renew rivalry having finished second and fourth respectively in a Dromahane maiden back in the Spring.  Both yards have their fair share of bumper winners and it’s interesting to note that Fort Worth is likely to carry the dark blue John Magnier colours most frequently seen on the backs of Aidan O’Brien trained bluebloods.

Pointing To Winners 2013/14

Runners At Kinsale Point-To-Point

Runners At Kinsale Point-To-Point

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.

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Rules Round-Up


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.