Bally Beaufort was flagged up in this column as a likely rules performer a couple of months ago and he registered his second Open success in as many weeks when victorious at Maralin last Sunday. Colin McKeever’s charge appears to stay very well and looks a similar type to Goonyella who ran well in points prior to a successful rules career in staying chases and Bally Beaufort can do likewise should connections choose to head down that route.
Earlier on the card White Arm scored at the second time of asking for Tony Martin with the five year old running out the easy six length winner of a maiden event in a fast time. White Arm had previously finished third at Punchestown last month and looks likely to head to a bumper at some point in the near future.
At Brafield-On-The-Green on Sunday the highly regarded Squirrel Esquire registered his second success in three starts when getting up late on in the Restricted event that concluded the action on his seasonal debut. A winner of a maiden last season the James Martin ridden favourite made a bad mistake early on but fought back well after the last having been headed approaching it to battle clear of the vastly more experienced Flan The Man.
Ffos Las’ Thursday card features a Novice’s Hunter Chase. Qualviro was impressive on his seasonal return at Market Rasen but
proved a bitter disappointment behind the useful looking Certain Flight on his only subsequent start at Huntingdon. This doesn’t look a strong affair however with the biggest danger likely to be Red Watch, the mount of Nick Williams. The twelve year old was lightly raced last season making just the one start, but crucially it was a winning one and he should go well on his first outing over regulation fences since being pulled up at Cork nearly five years ago.
Simon Earle isn’t known for his bumper winners but he looks likely to have a decent performer on his hands in the shape of Shanaderry Kin. The five year old had just two outings in points in Ireland last Autumn with the second of those coming when a solid second to subsequent impressive bumper winner Tell Us More. Shanaderry Kin was probably flattered by the distance he was beaten on that occasion given the winner had to overcome all sorts of problems late on prior to winning but it came in a sixteen strong field and he can be expected to improve with racing under rules.
Wetherby stage the second running of their Mares Hunters Chase this coming Friday with the likely favourite being 2013 winner Double Mead. Alex Dunn’s charge sauntered home under her trainer at Marks Tey two weeks ago and is likely to prove very hard to beat in this with the most likely danger being the improving Rosie Du Berlais who looked a different horse when scoring on her debut for the Philip Kirby yard at Catterick three weeks ago. Of the remainder Spotthestripe returned from a long lay-off to finish runner-up to dual Hunter Chase winner Shy John on soft ground and in a first time hood at Leicester last month and it will be interesting to see whether the nine year old daughter of Cloudings can step up on that in this.
There’s little to get excited about in terms of pointers at the very highest level this weekend with the build up to Aintree, Ayr and Punchestown continuing in earnest. The concluding race on Ascot’s Sunday card is a Hunter Chase which could see the likes of Made In Time, Marty’s Mission and Jack Bene who have already been successful at this level in 2014 face off against former Gold Cup hope What A Friend. The latter disappointed when only eighth on his debut for new trainer Grant Cann last month but will have improved a lot for that particular outing. It’s worrying that he didn’t show more than he did however and ultimately he was beaten a long way by the protagonists and preference here would be for Made In Time who failed to stay the trip in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham when last seen on the track a fortnight ago but the drop in trip should suit Rebecca Curtis’ charge in this sub-three mile Hunter Chase.
There are a couple of interesting contenders at Limerick this Sunday. The first of these is the John Walsh-trained Madoun who cut little ice when a blatant non-stayer in three outings between the flags to April 2013. The gelding led until inside the final two miles on the final two occasions with his outing at Lingstown in March 2013 by far his most promising. On that particular occasion the John Madden-owned gelding was leading at the fourth last at which a bad mistake cost the then five year old ground and a very bad mistake at the following fence effectively ended any chance he had of victory and ultimately he was pulled up shortly afterwards. John Walsh’s horses have been running well of late without winning and often at decent prices and Madoun looks capable of going well for the Doneraile-based trainer should he line up in this contest.
Timmy Hyde’s Adam Du Breteau is another to have suffered with jumping issues early on in his career but the son of Network will have no such problems if lining up in the listed bumper that concludes Limerick’s card on Sunday. The French-bred gelding was still handy in a four year old Maiden at the start of the month prior to coming to grief at the third last in a rare pointing ride for leading amateur Nina Carberry. The champion Derek O’Connor took over for the four year olds next outing at Dromahane two weekends back when the gelding unseated his rider when a beaten third having been sent off favourite. He looks to have a decent level of ability and looks more than capable of going well in a bumper.
The Horsechesnut improved with every run in points back in December and the six year old son of Definite Article can make an impression should he make his rules debut at Hexham in the concluding bumper on Monday’s card. Racing with more restraint appeared to help the now Jennie Candlish-trained gelding when running out the four length winner of a Maiden at Dromahane at the end of December and he showed enough speed on that occasion to suggest that a bumper of this nature should proven within his compass, particularly given the yard has already tasted success with a similar type this season.