The most impressive pointing performances of last weekend in Ireland came on Sunday at the Bree Foxhounds meeting at Monksgrange in County Wexford. The opening four year old maiden saw plenty of positive reports and good market support for the Colin Bowe-trained Potters Point, a son of Robin Des Champs out of the unraced nine year old King’s Theatre mare Tango Lady. The gelding was always handily positioned and took up the running three out but could find no more when challenged approaching the last by the Jamie Codd-ridden Jeweloftheocean trained by Denis Murphy. The winner had been held up for much of the contest, which was run at a good pace and ultimately they finished in a time twelve seconds quicker than the average on the day with the front two looking well above average and likely to score in bumpers should connections go that route before the end of the season.
In contrast to the opening maiden event the concluding mares race at Monksgrange was run in a much slower time – a full fifteen seconds slower than average. That winner was the Jonathan Fogarty-trained Beneficial mare Quiet Candid who led on the bridle approaching the last to quicken clear of Classic Palace for a comfortable success. Quiet Candid showed plenty of class on this occasion and should prove capable dropping back in trip on the track.
It’s a relatively quiet week for pointers on the rules front this week with the most interesting action taking place in the Hunter Chases this weekend. The first two of those take place at Sedgefield on Friday with a 3m3f Open event and a 2m4f Novices affair later on the card. Special Portrait hasn’t been at his best thus far this year and finished runner-up in this event in 2013. The ten year old son of Portrait Gallery was pulled up on his most recent outing for trainer Mark Hughes at Kelso but hadfinished a solid sixth on his return over this trip on soft ground at Musselburgh in early February and there appears to be little strength to this particular event. His main rival could well be the Phil Kirby-trained mare Rosie Du Berlais who unseated early on at Wetherby last Friday and will be making her first start in Open Hunter Chase events here (previous outings were in a Novice and a Mares race) and the mares not insignificant weight allowance could prove crucial at the business end of the race.
Shales Rock and Silver Token are the two with the Hunter Chase wins to their name in the Novices event and they look the most likely to fight out the finish. The former saw off subsequent easy Newton Abbot winner Chosen Milan in a similar event to this at Stratford three weeks ago while the latter was the subject of strong market support prior to tasting victory at Ffos Las last week. Silver Token would benefit from any overnight rain though the current soft ground won’t inconvenience David Brace’s charge.
Fairyhouse stage a competitive looking Hunter Chase on Sunday with a number of formerly classy rules performers possibly taking on some up and coming pointers. In the latter category is Carsonstown Boy for the Colin McBratney stable, the ten year old finishing runner-up at Cheltenham last month having taken numerous Open points over the years. I was disappointed that James was beaten at Down Royal last time out and my feeling is that the gelding is likely to prove better suited to sub-three mile events while the two Grade 1 winning ex-rules horses Quel Esprit and Pandorama both look to be on the downgrade and as such may well struggle against the two previously mentioned horses in addition to Limerick winner Burren River and Loch Dara from the Leonard Whitmore yard who’s also tasted success in this sphere in 2013/14.
On Monday Kelso plays host to the prestigious Buccleuch Cup over 3m2f for maiden hunter chasers. Wendy Hamilton’s Cave Hunter has won his last four starts in points and looks likely to start favourite should the gelding be declared for this. Barachois Silver would be taking a drop in class in relation to her previous hunter chase outing here when she fell in a race won by Tartan Snow here in February while she was beaten just a short head by the useful Moscow Menace in this event last year. Of the remainder Darsi Dancer could represent Tartan Snow’s trained Stuart Coltherd here and he has looked a stayer in his most recent starts, including on his British debut last weekend.