Saint Charles scored at the second time of asking in points at North Carlton last weekend. The four year old partnered by Sam Drinkwater came eight lengths clear of previous maiden placer Storm Lantern in receipt of fourteen pounds from his chief rival. Tom Lacey has produced a number of useful looking maiden winners over the years and Saint Charles was arguably unlucky not to score at the first attempt at Lacey’s local course Cocklebarrow when the son of Manduro was slowly away prior to unseating at the final fence. He looks likely to head to the sales following this success.
Bally Beaufort again shaped like an improving type for trainer Colin McKeever when running out the eight length winner of a Winner Of Two event at Farmaclaffley on Saturday. The six year old son of Old Vic has had a solid season finishing behind the subsequent Novice Hurdle winner Liberty One twice in November prior to stepping up on that when runner-up to a useful prospect at Tinahely. The heavy ground has seemingly brought the best out of the gelding given this was his second win in three starts and he looks like he could make up into a potentially decent staying chaser in years to come and can be competitive in a heavy ground Maiden Hunter Chase in the meantime.
Visitors to the Duhallow Foxhound’s fixture at Kildorrey on Sunday had expected to see the pointing return of the now Enda Bolger-trained Mossey Joe. In the event he was a non-participant in the feature Open race but there were a couple of notable performances on the card. The first of these came from the Liam Burke-trained Blodge. The five year old daughter of Kalanisi fell on her debut at Ballybunion when still holding chances in an event won by Shanendou. Out of the Grade 1 winning mare Bilboa, Blodge stepped up on her return at Aghabullogue here to run out the easy winner in a nineteen runner affair and she looks likely to prove capable of scoring in a bumper in the coming months.
Scorpiancer provided one of the seasons leading Novice Riders Eoin O’Sullivan with another winner for his father Eugene in the Five Year Old Geldings Maiden. The son of Scorpion who raced in mid division for much of the three mile contest lead from before the second last to go clear of his seventeen rivals that were headed by the promising Westerner Point trained by Eoghan O’Grady. Scorpiancer looks more than capable of scoring at a decent level under rules and appeared to have enough speed to take a bumper before embarking on a career over obstacles.
Qrackers looks likely to prove hard to beat on his return to rules racing in the Hunter Chase at Ludlow tomorrow. The Tor Collins-trained ten year old won at the Cottenham meeting at the end of December in a decent Ladies Open contest. The main doubt surrounding Hannah Watson’s mount is the ground given that all his best rules form came on soft ground and it looks likely that he could be given most to do by Chief Heckler who had looked a consistent sort prior to finishing fifth behind the improving Shy John at Leicester a fortnight ago.
The other Hunter Chase this Thursday takes place at Taunton where Martys Mission attempts to go one better than when runner-up at Ludlow behind Made In Time last week. Trained by Becky Furber the gelding had run well at Cottenham on his first outing of the season but appears best at sub-three mile trips and on soft ground, which he’ll get here while the easy nature of the track should compensate for the step up in trip from last week’s two and a half mile trip, though he carries a penalty for his Ludlow success last year he should prove tough to beat under David Prichard.
Abbey Court is the first horse of interest on Newbury’s card this coming Friday. The son of Wareed finished runner-up behind the useful Western Warhorse on his pointing debut at Affane in November 2012 and though he looked as if he would appreciate a stiffer test of stamina in time it’s interesting than Henderson is looking to start him off at a big track like this.
Among Abbey Court’s opponents on Friday could be Pirate’s Cay, another who hasn’t been seen in action since a 2012 debut. Pirate’s Cay’s debut came under Derek O’Connor on good ground at Lisronagh in May of that year and though absent since the son of Black Sam Bellamy rates an interesting contender should he make his rules debut in this contest.
The Ould Lad could make his handicap debut here on his debut over fences here for his trainer Tom George. The son of Heron Island has had three outings thus far under rules, all coming at this venue including when well beaten on soft ground here last month. On the face of it his initial mark of 112 looks high enough but this six year old gelding who saw off Bendanella to take his Maiden at the second attempt at Ballydarragh in December 2012 was always going to make a better chaser than a hurdler and this step up in trip is another positive.
Saturday could see the return of the highly progressive Man With Van in a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle at Kelso. The Stuart Crawford-trained gelding has won his last two hurdles under rules following an eye-catching debut at Navan back in December. The eight year old son of Milan saw off the fair yardstick Seriatim at Fairyhouse on heavy ground at the start of month and though he also holds an engagement at Leopardstown on Sunday I’d expect the gelding to head here with a win likely to make the 20/1 available for the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in two weeks time very big indeed.
Also at Kelso is a competitive looking Hunter Chase. Tartan Snow was the easy winner of a similar event to this earlier this month with Moscow Menace back in second on that occasion set to re-oppose. Of the other contenders Buckstruther hasn’t been seen in action this season but would rate a danger, particularly if the ground dried up before the weekend.
The John Ferguson-trained Dreamy George was unbeaten in points with the latest of those coming at Cottenham in December. The eight year old has been fairly highly tried in Novice company over fences thus far finishing third behind Karinga Dancer and second to Victor Hewgo in above average contests at Doncaster in December and January. The son of Goldmark could make his handicap debut over fences in this competitive event and a track like Huntingdon which like Cottenham is a fairly speedy and right-handed course could play to the gelding’s strengths.