Irish Point Notes, Week 4

An Irish Point-to-Point. [Image: flickr]

An Irish Point-to-Point. [Image: flickr]

Irish Point Notes, Week 4, by Seattle Dancer

Week ending 26 October 2014: 

Loughanmore, Co. Antrim. 

4yo maiden: 

Shantou Village – g by Shantou (Denis Murphy) 

Denis Murphy is no slouch at winning maidens and has done well for a few clients who buy to sell and Maria Byrne, Pat Coffey and Shantou Village’s owner, Thomas O’Sullivan, have all done well at the sales with previous 4yo maiden winners from this quarter.

How much would you give for Shantou Village at Brightwells in two weeks’ time based on the partnership’s three previous 4yo winning maidens? Grey Monk (by Alderbrook) fetched an eye-watering €210,000 and was a major disappointment for Potts/de Bromhead, The Grey Taylor (Royal Anthem) has yet to win after four starts since he cost P J Martin and Steve Gollings £110,000 and Gee Hi (Milan) who fetched £80,000 has won a bumper and maiden hurdle for Charlie Egerton in what looks a truncated 4-race career. Note: As I type I see that Gollings’ horse, The Grey Taylor, whom he describes as a “monster” and “can be dangerous” has just won a Wetherbys novices’ hurdle to improve the immediate record.

The sire Shantou, whose most promising representative is currently Willie Mullins’ Briar Hill (bought, incidentally, by Mullins for £100,000 for Graham Wylie after winning his maiden at Necarne in 2012), certainly gives Shantou Village a chance to progress and his damline, although predominantly flat-bred, features In The Forge who scored in a bumper and two 2m hurdles for Mick Halford and is a half-brother to Shantou Village’s dam. He obviously had some quality as a 3yo as he was a €27,000 purchase at the 2013 Goffs Land Rover sale. He was one of five stores bought by O’Sullivan on the day.

He scored here quite impressively from horses with what looked like good recent form, including a previous nominee Ballykan-probably a shade disappointing in third- and received a rating of 90 for his troubles, the highest of any 4yo maiden so far this season. Generally speaking, the winner of this maiden is worth following under Rules and only Balnahinch (from 2008) has failed to score and his career was cut short after finishing second twice in just four starts for Henrietta Knight. Horses like Mr Moonshine (dual Grand National runner), Balnaslow (W Mullins), Champagne West (P Hobbs) and Definitly Red (S Gollings) have all been prolific track winners and recent previous winners of this maiden. He looks one to take serious note of and I would rate his sire over the likes of previous graduates by Alderbrook and Royal Anthem who were responsible for previous winners from these quarters.


5yo maiden:

Some of the best fun to be had following pointers is when they are retained in a relatively small stable in the obvious belief that the handler believes he can get them to score when the time is right. Jimmy Lambe did this to marvellous effect with a previous winning 5yo maiden (from 2011) named Shanroe Society at Thurles in January 2013 and it was a victory well worth waiting for as he seemed to do a wonderful job on the handicapping front – the horse was a decent winning punt at 9/2. Interestingly, 19 runs later, Shanroe Society has yet to win another race.

This is by way of introduction to Lambe’s winner of this maiden named Shanroe Santos owned by the same connections as the afore-mentioned gelding, sharing the same sire in Definite Article, both purchased at public auction and both been given introductory runs under rules before going pointing. Shanroe Santos, purchased as a 3yo in 2012 for €15,000 had been running reasonably well in four recent bumper outings (fourth at Roscommon last May on his latest outing) and it shouldn’t have come as any surprise that he was capable of winning a maiden here. He was given a decent rating of 92. I’ll be a little disappointed if he is now sold but based on past history he will now be well educated over timber and I fancy having a little investment on him in three-four months time when “the time is right”. Jimmy Lambe is no wool-gatherer although I have just seen that his post-race comment indicated the horse may in fact be sales bound.


Winner of One:

It has been seven years since a 4yo scored in “winners” company against his elders and of the three horses to do that in 2007 two were of no account. The only maiden winner of note to take that route was John Nallen’s Minella For Food and that project didn’t really work out because the horse picked up an injury (after finishing a promising second in a Thurles hurdle) and was off the track for almost two years thereafter. Mr Mountain (by Mountain High and trained by Donnchadh Doyle) managed to do that here and one anticipates it was a performance of some quality for which he received a rating of 92-the same rating awarded to Shanroe Santos – and a pretty decent rating for a 4yo.

Mr Mountain had managed to win one of the very last 4yo maidens run last season at Kinsale in early June and was promptly despatched to a special section of the Tattersalls Derby Sale where he was led out unsold at £75,000 much to the chagrin of connections no doubt. I expect there would be a view abroad that late-season 4yo’s winners are not worth that sort of money so the Doyles were forced into last Saturday’s rearguard action and one can imagine that they will now expect him to fetch £75,000 or more at Brightwells this time round. He only cost them two-and-a-half-grand as a 3yo so it looks good business now. His Oscar dam was pretty slow but her full-brother and two half-brothers won six races between them and they tended to run well on their early racecourse appearances. His sire, Mountain High, has just 5yo’s on the ground and early signs are promising that this Coolmore rookie will make the grade as a decent jumps stallion. Doyle and his owners were obviously very determined to get a pre-sale “result” taking this adventurous “winners” route with Mr Mountain so it will be one of the more fascinating results at the Brightwells Sale scheduled for Friday evening, 14 November. Doyle was quoted as saying that the horse will be better over shorter trips than the three miles negotiated here.


Tattersalls Farm 

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4yo mares maiden 

Washington Lady – m by Beneficial (Donnchadh Doyle)

In the first race of its type this autumn this was yet another winner this season for Doyle (he already has five individual scorers) and I am quite fascinated by how young mares progress if and when they ever get to the track. As I have mentioned in an earlier thread, the unforgiving jumps game is not suitable for most mares and you get a very large number of “unraced” mares that go straight to the breeding shed. That they generally command little interest and, consequently, cash, at the sales as racing prospects means that a jumping mare producing lots of filly foals for a breeder will not be very profitable and can be the bane of a farmer’s life. This winner, for example, made just €1,200 as a 2yo jumping prospect whereas her year older full-brother earned €9,000 as a yearling.

Washington Lady is by a “proper”, albeit dead, sire and her unraced dam (who’d of guessed?) was a half-sister to three winners – all by Beneficial incidentally – the best of whom was Pat Fahy’s five-time winner Washington Lad considered good enough to contest the 2005 3m novice hurdle event at Cheltenham. Washington Lady was given a rating of 80 (mares will generally be 8-10lbs behind their male counterparts) and based on past evidence this will not make her a standout rules prospect where, in my experience, you need a rating approaching the mid-80’s to be ranked a future star. Occasionally a mare will run well and on very, very, isolated occasions manage to beat her male counterparts when they are pitted against the geldings and that’s when it can get very interesting. These are my five-star horses, not Cheltenham prospects or sale-toppers but rather something to go to war with against the bookmakers.

I have lots of data on how maiden-winning 4yo mares perform subsequently and I may get a chance to post on this topic over the course of this blog.


4yo Winner Of One:

What made Mr Mountain’s performance at Loughanmore even more noteworthy was the fact that connections decided to take on older winners even though they had a rare enough opportunity this very weekend to race against winning 4yo’s. In the event this event attracted maidens only and it was won yet again by a Donnchadh Doyle trained performer in Crosshue Boy (by Brian Boru).

I wrote in week two about Brian Boru and his relatively disappointing time as a Coolmore jumps stallion and here we have another maiden winner that must be thrilling his new owners at Dunraven Stud in South Wales although they’re not very sharp on updating their stallion’s successes on line. Crosshue Boy looks cheaply-bought for just €8,200 at Goffs last February but, in fairness, the mare had looked dog-meat material before producing this winner as her previous ten foals were useless and the mare herself was as slow as a week. The only saving grace on Crosshue Boy’s recent history was the dam’s half-brother Yellow Spring who won 9 times for D M Grissell in the early nineties. Someone in Camp Doyle has a serious eye for a horse and they are making plenty of money turning geese into swans.

Crosshue Boy is now rated 88 as a winner of a five-runner “maiden” and with all newcomers taking part it’s difficult to get a handle on his ability. Hopefully by the time he gets to the track we will have picked up a few more clues.


5yo maiden 

Believe it or not, more joy for Bridgend and Dunraven Stud as Brian Boru keeps up his current purple patch. Big Jack Behan scores for Sean Gallagher but it looks a very modest contest and it’s the trainer’s first winner in three years so at least he probably got drunk later that evening even if he didn’t produce the Gold Cup winner here.



4yo maiden:

I took a very keen interest in this race in 2010 because it featured a Michael Hourigan-trained winner who had been educated at David Wachman’s Longfield Academy. Suffice to say I had a Listowel beano some months later when this horse bolted in at 33/1. Happy days!! Run With The Wind was the horse and it’s possibly a coincidence that he ran into fourth today (Nov 1) at Down Royal in a handicap hurdle at precisely those same odds.

It is generally a decent contest and it’s coincidental that best recent winners have hailed from yards more associated with racing inside the rails (Michael Hourigan and Willie McCreery). It’s also a meeting that usually kick-starts the season but this fixture was postponed for a month on account of firm ground. The winner, Battle Of Clontarf, is named after a famous skirmish in Dublin exactly one thousand years ago and it featured Ireland V Denmark and just guess who captained Denmark??? BRIAN BORU! (who was enjoying his fourth pointing winner in October and leads the field in the sire standings). It really seems to be uncanny that the stallion is excelling on such an auspicious anniversary.

The UK justifiably makes much of the involvement of Mick Channon and Michael Owen in the racing game and here in Ireland we have our own version of former sports stars involved in Gaelic Games who are now featuring as successful trainers. The afore-mentioned Willie McCreery (who enjoyed Group One success this season with Fiesolana) and Battle Of Clontarf’s trainer, Kieran Purcell, a former stalwart of a famous Kilkenny hurling team, are two that come immediately to mind. I have kept a keen eye on Purcell’s runners over the years and winning pointers like Paddy Pub and Smokey Joe Joe have performed exceptionally well when Purcell has targeted them at contests under Rules.

Battle Of Clontarf (rated 88) had been a decent second to the Spain/Doyle winner Fact Of The Matter two weeks earlier at Loughrea and was a lucky winner here as he looked destined to be at best second before a few tales of woe handed him the advantage. The race is immediately filed “for future review” as there appeared to be three other horses who all suffered various degrees of bad fortune in the race (Indy Five looked a likely winner for Pat Doyle and Derek O’Connor). For the moment we will concentrate on Battle Of Clontarf and use him as a Viking axe to slay the bookmakers in time. He hasn’t got the greatest pedigree – in truth, it’s very poor and he changed hands last year for just €2,400 – and I would have more confidence in the trainer than the page at this stage. I will probably only stick with Battle Of Clontarf  if he remains with Purcell but signs are that he may be sold. Incidentally, the trainer was very bullish about his horses after this race and they may be worthy of close inspection over the coming weeks. They were under a cloud earlier in the year and may be attractively-priced as a result. Point-to-point trainer-form often transfers to the track and the victory of Colin Bowe’s Little King Robin in a Grade Two hurdle at Down Royal recently is a case in point-he lies second in the handlers’ list with three winners. Update: I attended a point-to-point yesterday (Sunday 2-Nov) and Kieran Purcell had a double on the card so keep an eye out for his track performers over the coming weeks.


5yo maiden: 

The Chuckmeister – g by Germany (John Berry)

The final offering from this busy weekend is trained by one of the most famous names from the point-to-point scene in Ireland. John Berry’s uncle, Padge, was the training king-pin of the game a few decades ago and John himself was three-time winner of the leading rider award over twenty years ago and has been training pointers and racehorses for twenty five years. His greatest success under Rules came with a former pointer, Cootamundra, in 2013 when he scored in the Troytown Handicap Chase.

Of the five previous winners I tracked from this maiden since 2010 it is notable that only two crossed the Irish Sea to join Evan Williams (De Faoithes Dream) and Donald McCain (Abbey Storm) and both were winners with the remaining three failing to progress so the hint should be taken if he is sold to take the boat in a few weeks’ time. I wouldn’t give up on him if Berry retains him to train himself and he would be a longer term project when handicapped based on past experiences. The Chuckmeister (RPR 87) has a half-brother who won points in the UK and his mother is related to two winners (middle-distance scorers) out of a half-sister to the Scottish National winner Moorcroft Boy.

I am pretty familiar with The Chuckmeister’s sire Germany – already responsible for Captain Cee Bee and Faugheen – in that a friend of mine decided to sell a 3yo gelded son of his (the first foal of a mare that won for me on the track) rather than race the progeny and this horse subsequently sold to Willie Mullins for £100,000 after finishing second on its sole pointing start at four. My friend still feels the pain!

Horses To Follow: 

Shantou Village 

Shanroe Santos 

Mr Mountain 

Crosshue Boy 

Battle Of Clontarf 

The Chuckmeister






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