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.
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.
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.
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.