One of the most impressive performances of the weekend came at Punchestown on Sunday where the Gordon Elliott-trained Utmost Zeal took a heavy fall at the last when clear in the opening four year old event over 2m4f. The son of Big Bad Bob travelled well into the race and easily quicken ten lengths clear of eventual winner A Sizing Network under Jamie Codd and having shown an impressive turn of foot he had looked set for an impressive victory prior to his fall. The Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding was their chosen runner from three entries and showed more than enough speed to take a bumper and looks set for a big future under rules assuming he is none the worse for his fall.
Monbeg Gold was another impressive four year old to debut last weekend with the son of Gold Well running out the ten length winner from the mare Special Princess of a maiden event at Tallow on Saturday. The meeting was postponed a week due to waterlogging which may have proven to be a reason for the relatively small seven runner field though that shouldn’t take away from the performance of the winner who made all in a decent time for trainer Sean Doyle.
The form of Up For Review’s Knockanard success already looks likely to prove good enough to score at a fair level under rules given the six and a half length third’s solid placing at Worcester last month. Up For Review travelled well throughout the contest in the hands of Mikey O’Connor and quickened up well for an easy success in the eleven runner contest on soft to heavy ground.
The Hunter Chase at Huntingdon tomorrow looks likely to be a two horse race on paper with Tim Vaughan’s Market Rasen winner Qualviro and the Keith Cumings-trained Certain Flight looking a cut above the other three contenders. Preference is for the latter following his two impressive victories thus far this season. The latest of those outings came at Black Forest Lodge earlier this month when the son of Convinced saw off Adept Approach in convincing fashion to take his pointing record to nine wins in twenty three starts and he can improve on that by registering a first Hunter Chase success here with regular pilot Will Biddick in the saddle.
Trainer Jennie Candlish has done well with her horses in recent seasons with the likes of Cross Kennon flying the flag for the yard and she could have another star on her hands in the shape of Rough King. The five year old was by far the most likely winner at Affane in November prior to falling at the last fence under Andrew Latta and he makes his debut for the yard in the concluding bumper at Sedgefield on Thursday. The yards horses have been running well of late and he can see off his five rivals in the final event on the card.
Dancingtilmidnight hasn’t been seen out since disappointing at Haydock in December 2012 in a listed race won by She Ranks Me. Prior to that Harry Fry’s daughter of Midnight Legend had scored on each of her two rules outings that Autumn at Newbury and on her rules debut at Ludlow. The seven year old mare had finished outside the first two just once in five career outings between the flags in the UK and she looks feasibly handicapped off a mark of 114 in this mares event.
Davy From Milan went close to breaking his maiden on the track last season when beaten just a head by Are Ya Right Chief in a 2m6f maiden hurdle at Thurles on heavy ground in February and he could return to that venue this coming Friday following a winter between the flags. The Eoin Doyle-trained gelding has won his last two at Templenacarriga and most recently when seeing off the multiple Open winner Pocket Reader under Derek O’Connor. The gelding is clearly in good heart and looks to have the capability to score on the track having gone close in the past and this looks like the ideal opportunity for the son of Milan.
Thanks In Advance finished runner-up in a small field at Affane in November for trainer Jimmy Mangan and having been sent off the evens favourite for the four year old event he found the subsequently bumper placed Arden Denis four lengths too good when the pair were left clear by the fall of Rough King at the final fence and he is of interest here given his trainers 15% strike rate at this venue.
At Fairyhouse last years winner Warne could bid to repeat his success in the John McCarthy Memorial Hunters Chase. As stated earlier in the month he is my idea of the Aintree Foxhunters winner for 2014 and the drop back in trip looks likely to suit Brian Hamilton’s charge following his third behind Tammy’s Hill over three miles at Leopardstown two weeks ago. James stepped up on his impressive success at Downpatrick to be fourth in that particular event but he looks unlikely to reverse the form but can take a hand in the finish while Tammy’s Hill, Burren River and Quel Esprit (winner, fifth and seventh at Leopardstown) could also re-oppose. The ex-Ferdy Murphy-trained The Hollinwell has had a tremendous season so far for new trainer Eugene O’Sullivan winning three times thus far under the trainer’s son Eoin, the latest of which came last Sunday on Punchestown’s point-to-point course and he would is the most intriguing contender here though it’s worth noting that Cheltenham was mooted as his next port of call following Sunday’s success.
Doctor Phoenix ran out the impressive winner of his second start in points at Curraheen at the start of November. The now David Dennis-trained gelding proved to be far too good for his eleven rivals on that occasion and while it’s disappointing that no winners have come out of the race thus far the son of Dr Massini was a cut above his rivals on that occasion and with his trainer having gone close with a similar type already this season he can be competitive in Chepstow’s bumper event.
Sybarite scored in impressive fashion in a maiden event over hurdles at Ludlow earlier today and he holds an engagement off a light weight in the concluding Pertemps Qualifier at Chepstow on Saturday afternoon. The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained eight year old disappointed on his previous start when fourth behind Tidal Dance and Knockanrawley at Towcester in January but that pair are both now rated in the 130’s as is his Ascot conqueror from December Josies Orders and the likely heavy ground and light weight he’ll have on Saturday make him an attractive betting proposition if he is fully recovered from his earlier exertions.
A number of those engaged in Sunday’s Foxhunter Trial at Fontwell have run or are due to run in the coming days with the likes of Qualviro, Made In Time, Marufo and Charles Bruce featuring in that category and as such there’s a strong possibility this 3m2f contest could cut up considerably. In the event that it does the Phil Hall-trained Adept Approach could be the one best place to take advantage given the gelding was a course and distance winner back in May and who has the benefit of a previous run this season having finished runner-up behind Huntingdon runner Certain Flight in a five runner Mens Open event earlier this month.
The sole pointer of any real interest this coming Monday is the Marc Barber-trained No More Whispers who would be of interest if taking up his engagement in the staying handicap hurdle at Plumpton. The gelded son of Kahyasi has been racing in points in recent seasons and was rated as high as ninety five at his peak back in 2010. The nine year olds sole outing on the track last season came when a distant, but staying on fourth behind Hawkeye Native at Chepstow in the prestigious Dunraven Bowl in April and he would be interesting off a light weight here with David Crosse booked for the ride.