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.
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.
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.