Irish Point Notes, Week 6

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

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

Irish Point Notes, by Seattle Dancer

Week 6 

Maralin, Co. Down 

4yo maiden:

Our old friends in Dunraven Stud (home of Brian Boru) are also standing another Coolmore National Hunt cast-off stallion in Bach here since 2011 and he sired the winner of this maiden in Baby Bach trained by Stuart Crawford. It’s hard to know what to make of the race as Baby Bach seemed to contest the race on the back of very modest form in three previous runs although in beating an unraced son of Beneficial (cost a very modest €4,500 as a yearling) one is left guessing as to the exact value of the performance. With doubts about the sire – he never really produced much from serving probably one thousand mares in his Coolmore days – I am disinclined to get excited about this fellow’s future prospects. A rating of 88 seems generous to me.

Bach has only sired the winner of six previous 4yo maidens and David Pipe subsequently bought and trained the best two of them – Shaking Hands and Shoegazer won 13 races between them – and only in the event that this horse turns up in Nicholashayne would I reverse my opinion of him.


5yo maiden:

One of my absolute bug-bears in racing is the number of times connections misspell horses’ names and I‘m afraid Irish national hunt owners are particularly guilty of this crime. I will keep my beady eye on such matters and woe betide the offenders!

Stilletto (!), a son of Westerner, nonetheless was a previously unraced impressive winner here (RPR 89) for yet another trainer from County Wexford, Andrew Latta, who was helping his grandfather (William Powell-Harris) celebrate a home-bred winner from a dam line that extends back some time for his owner. It’s a pedigree that doesn’t really catch the eye depending on a very good chaser in the eighties, Proud Bishop, who was a full-brother to Stilletto’s grandam albeit she won a point and was placed in three bumpers for Powell-Harris and the dam also won a point. The dam’s best previous foal, Eastern Witness, won a point maiden in 2013 for the exact same connections and this horse was subsequently bought by Venetia Williams for £15,000 but looks like he needs to improve (after 5 starts) to win. I expect that the sire Westerner will ensure plenty of interest in this horse if and when he is sold.

When following this horse, who seemed to impress all the right judges, bear in mind that he won on very testing ground that only saw four of fourteen starters complete. This race was previously won by Shanroe Society – a horse I mentioned in connection with a recent Jimmy Lambe winner recently – in 2011 but the best recent graduate was Henry de Bromhead’s five-time winner, Buckers Bridge, considered good enough to contest this year’s Aintree Grand National.


Ballinaboola, Co. Wexford 

4yo maiden:

William Codd bought For Instance (by Milan) privately at the Brightwells Sale last April (officially “not sold” at £25,000) following a third placing in a Carlisle bumper earlier that month when trained by Tony Coyle and he looks like he will get a quick return on his investment. He was a nice winner here beating a fancied newcomer from Donnchadh Doyle’s yard and is almost certainly sales bound.

Codd won this race in 2009 with Mike Towey (won two for Peter Bowen) and in 2010 with Lowparklad but this horse didn’t race again for 27 months and obviously had his problems after making £62,000 at a subsequent sale-the joys of the jumping game! I got positively delirious about Need To Talk’s victory in 2012 as it was a pedigree I know and love but although he fetched £230,000 subsequently he’s only had the one poor run since for Paul Nolan to whom JP McManus sent his new acquisition. Alas, it looks as if he has some serious problems and time is catching up quickly. (I generally have my own private ranking of winners based on a number of my own personal preferences and this horse would have been one of my all-time top ten selections).

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Given the deluges hitting the Ireland at present and now that these horses are racing on what we would recognise as genuine winter, jumping ground I expect the level of ability and subsequent sales interest to increase.

For Instance’s pedigree suggests that winning a bumper would not be a high priority as all the best family performers excelled over staying distances and I suspect that will be the case here.


5yo maiden:

“Doing what it says on the tin” is a favourite quote of mine from a winning handler when his son of Kayf Tara had scored in a 5yo maiden on testing ground some years ago. The contents of same tin can still be relied upon and Enda Bolger, trainer par excellence of big and sturdy banks and cross-country staying performers, introduced a Kayf Tara newcomer here (Rosstemple) who won although perhaps not quite in the manner expected of an odds-on favourite. The immediate reaction is that he didn’t beat a whole lot and it will be interesting to see where he goes next.

This is not the customary owner/handler looking for a sales result – his owner, John Power, dispenses gems of legal wisdom to the “powers”-that-be in Coolmore – and it would be safe to assume that if this horse is of much account he will run, in time, in the green-and-gold of one Mr McManus, a sometime neighbour (tax rules permitting!) of the winning owner. Another alternative is that Rosstemple will remain as a pointer/hunter chaser and provide a conveyance of some class to the very useful amateur Kevin Power, son of same legal-eagle. To strangle another quotation to death “the proof of this particular pudding will be in the eating!” It has to be said that Enda Bolger spoke in fairly glowing terms about the horse following this victory so far be it for me to question his belief (“the dream is alive and the future bright”) in this horse.

In a similar vein to today’s 4yo maiden winner this horse hardly strikes me as a bumper type and I often can’t see the point in running many of these winners in bumpers where they race usually for less than one mile after an inevitable early crawl.

Update: My faith in Need To Know continues unabated following another victory here in the Open at what I considered generous odds of 3/1 thanks to the presence of “talking horse” Mossey Joe. Connections now seem to think they have a genuinely valuable and saleable commodity so future moves will be followed with interest and he holds an entry for Brightwells.


Kilworth, Co. Cork

Jonjo Bright and J T McNamara have been high profile jockey casualties in recent years and this meet was run as a fundraiser for the Injured Jockeys’ Fund and, as such, there is no past autumn history to rely on. Kilworth’s main meeting is held in March every year. This venue in County Cork was the first meeting of the year in what is referred to as the “southern circuit” and traditionally it is home to some of the strongest stables involved in the game. The biggest names from this region would be Robert Tyner (who tragically lost his son Jack in a fall on 1st February 2011 at a point-to-point fixture in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford), Jimmy Mangan (Grand National winning trainer), Liam Burke, Michael Winters and Paul Cashman. One can expect this meeting to produce some explosive sales results over the coming weeks and, more likely than not, the principal results will contain decent future track performers.

4yo geldings maiden: 

Amber Gambler (by Doyen) trained by Pat Doyle

It was Co. Tipperary-based Pat Doyle, who scored with a sales-bound 4yo son of Brian Boru, Fact Of The Matter, a few weeks back, that produced an impressive winner here in Amber Gambler albeit there were a couple of hard luck stories in evidence in the race also. He is a German-bred son of Doyen (standing in Germany a few years back) who is now standing at Sunnyhill Stud in County Kildare and he was specifically placed there by Darley to replace the great Old Vic who died in 2011. Doyen’s first crop are still just seven-year-olds and he is promising to deliver top quality national hunt racehorses. Alan King has handled Doyen’s best two representatives to date in Kumbeshwar and Valdez.

The owner of Amber Gambler, vet Walter Connors, bought a number of horses in Germany a number of years ago and this win was the third horse to win for him from three purchases. Given the popularity (and cost) of French-breds at present this might well signal a change in tactics for some who may perceive better value in Germany.

Amber Gambler has a predominantly flat pedigree but with his sire being a son of Sadler’s Wells it will be no surprise if he has very decent ability under jumps rules. Doyle was of the opinion that his horse was a very good jumper who would have plenty of improvement to come.


5yo maiden: 

Vinalhaven (by Lavirco) trained by Pat Doyle

The very same owner/handler connection scored with another German-bred in this maiden and according to his handler “he could be very good”. His sire is responsible for twelve-time winner Mikael D’Haguenet among others so he is bound to be popular if sent to the sales ring.

Vinalhaven’s pedigree is a little difficult to decipher but four siblings have won over jumps in France which is very encouraging. A rating of 93 is the highest so far this season for a 5yo maiden winner. (Shantou Village, on 90, remains the top 4yo maiden.)


Horses to Follow: 


For Instance 


Amber Gambler 







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