Irish Point Notes, Week 11

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

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

Irish Point Notes,

by Seattle Dancer

14 December 2014 

Catching up a little today, and a number of performances worthy of serious note for all you talent spotters out there.


Cregg, Co. Tipperary 

This is probably one of the only fixtures that is run on very decent ground each year as the venue has extremely good drainage and the fixture was moved from October to December this year to avoid unseasonably firm ground.


4yo maiden:

With the exception of last year’s winner, Lock Towers, every winner of every division since 2008 has scored under rules and Lock Towers is threatening to keep that record in place as he has been placed on three of his first four starts. 2010 produced the two best performers in Distime and Baby Shine and what was notable about Baby Shine’s win is the fact that she was a mare beating her male peers, a very rare occurrence indeed. Another nugget of note is the fact that last year’s winner, Lock Towers, was a £20,000 recruit to join Ben Pauling whereas Jonjo O’Neill gave £80,000 for the runner-up, Flinstone (trained by Eoin Doyle), and not for the first time he seems to have overpaid for an “ordinary” Irish pointer. This is not a one man vendetta against Mr. O’Neill but he (or his buyers) surely do have a patchy record when it comes to buying pointing prospects as I have “pointed” out repeatedly in recent weeks.


Double Captain by Marienbard trained by Eoin Doyle

This is a local track to Doyle and he has produced horses to run well here in the past including Flinstone (2nd in 2013-see above) and Lucinda Russell’s useful Island Confusion who won a division in 2012. The trainer is using point-to-points to supplement his struggling training business and a useful job he is doing.  This is Doyle’s third maiden winner this season following earlier wins for Dr Waluigi and Jetstream Jack (winner under rules on New Year’s Day) although he was probably very disappointed with the “unsold” tag attaching to Dr Waluigi at the recent Brightwells sale. In fact I just see that Double Captain also failed to sell last week at the same sale and this has prompted an acquaintance of mine to remark that the hitherto flush cash available for the winning pointers seems to be getting a little scarcer. I hope to review this sale in its totality shortly.

Double Captain (rated 88) is out of an unraced half-sister to the very useful staying chaser Mr Top Notch (won a Leopardstown Chase and the leading Irish pre-Cheltenham RSA trial in 2007) but of six previous siblings not a single one made it to the track so that would be of concern. The stallion, the 2002 Arc winner, is a completely unknown quantity in that he has returned from stud duties in Japan where, presumably, he was a failure, and his first Irish crop are now 4yo’s. This was his first national hunt winner of any description. Prior to the Captain failing to sell for £48,000 his highest-priced progeny is a rising 4yo who Mouse Morris gave €46,000 for at this year’s Derby Sale. All in all, Double Captain is something of an unknown quantity and it’s probably unsurprising that he was unsold as the bar may have been set too high. Having personally experienced many unsold lots over the years my philosophy freely given to many breeders and pinhookers is “never bring them home!”


5yo maiden:

Another interesting little contest that produces future winners and the horse I learnt most from in the past was the privately-trained Jim Will Fix It whose win here in 2010 signalled that the horse was in terrific form – following two unplaced runs over hurdles and a look of little appeal already attaching to him – and he proved to be enormously lucrative to follow in his subsequent racecourse appearances. This is a trend oft-repeated and it especially applies to inmates from very untrendy stables who are liable to start at very attractive odds.


Dalia Pour Moi by Daliapour trained by John Halley

As mentioned in a previous piece, John is the head vet in Ballydoyle and extracts tremendous enjoyment from his handling of point-to-pointers with regular successes every year. A last fence faller at Glenbane two weeks ago when looking a winner (his only previous start had been tailed off in a Punchestown bumper last April) Dalia Pour Moi (rated 89) made amends in stylish fashion having made virtually all the running on this very nice going. The grey son of Daliapour is surely sales bound and, not surprisingly, was bred for flat racing. A sixth foal, he is a half-brother to French 1m5f claiming winner Equa; his dam was fourth over 9.5f from three starts and is a half-sister to Group-placed 1m4f winner Kharizmi and 12.5f winner Kharimata out of 1m2f Group 1 winner in Italy so Dalia Pour Moi is bred to go a bit. Daliapour, a son of Sadler’s Wells has produced the nice Poungach (won five for Paul Nicholls) and the four-time scorer Aupcharlie who was third in the 2011 Cheltenham bumper. This was Daliapour’s first-ever runner between the flags. One can expect this horse to change hands over the coming weeks.


Tattersalls Farm, Co. Meath 

4yo maiden-two divisions:

Only run since 2012, King Rolfe (90) and Tell Us More (90) are two previous winners who joined high-profile outfits in Tim Vaughan and Willie Mullins and who have been doing well for them.


Drumlee Sunset by Royal Anthem trained by Sean McParlan

The father and son trainer/jockey combination of Sean and Noel McParlan (based in County Down) produced an impressive winner in Drumlee Sunset (rated 90) who may now contest a bumper in the same colours. The same team produced Drumlee Lad to win a 4yo maiden at Fairyhouse last May although I cannot trace that this horse has changed hands since (unsold at £38,000 at the final Brightwells sale at the tail-end of last season). Postscript: the bould Drumlee Lad turned up in a maiden hurdle at Down Royal on St. Stephen’s day and duly obliged at 4/1.

Drumlee Sunset has a pedigree of some note being a second foal (first filly was unraced) out of an unraced Bob back mare who is a full-sister to eight-time winner The Jigsaw Man (including 2m listed hurdle) and dual 2m scorer Tisseman. In turn, her unraced Be My Native dam was a half-sister to  Nicky Henderson’s Stormyfairweather who won the 2m5f Cathcart at Cheltenham in 1999 and 2000 and four other winners of thirteen races. This is the highest-rated Royal Anthem to win a point maiden (previous best was Brian Ellison’s improving winner The Grey Taylor) and Drumlee Sunset does seem to have a good engine. It’s pretty certain that decent ground will be needed for him to show his best.

The trainer has only trained one course winner (from very few runners) over the past seven years but the winner was notable in that in landed a serious touch in a bumper first-time-out before being sold on to J P McManus and Charlie Swan. I had hoped that the McParlan’s might follow this route with their latest winner but note that Roger Brookhouse was impressed enough to pay £130,000 for him last week at Brightwells. As the horse reportedly had only schooled three times prior to this win he looks to have oodles of improvement in him and if the togs out for a class 6 bumper in darkest Devon or similar I would probably be very interested in him.


Yorkhill by Presenting trained by Colin McKeever

This winner took little finding as he was unlucky in running two weeks earlier (similar to Dalia Pour Moi) and he “kept on well” to win at odds of 2/1 albeit he lost his closest challenger who ran out at the second last. Additionally, he was an expensive €41,000 acquisition as a foal by McKeever’s main patron, Wilson Dennison, on account of his sire Presenting and an unraced Saddler’s Hall dam who is closely related to 2m1f-3m1f hurdle/smart chase winner Offshore Account, useful 2m1f-3m hurdle/chase winner Dooneys Gate and a  half-sister to high-class chaser The Listener & smart chasers Fork Lightning and Distant Thunder.

Sure to join a big stable in England he (rated 87) also looks a potential star of the future.


5yo maiden-two divisions:

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The race saw Capote (87) and Maximiser (91) score in two of the three divisions last season and both are performing very well for Jonjo O’Neill (doing well at a cost of £75,000 for Trevor Hemmings) and Simon West respectively. What I find interesting is that compared to O’Neill, West would be relatively unheralded which allowed his 91-rated recruit to start at 10/1 on his winning debut under rules and trainer fashion – or lack of – often offers an opportunity to snaffle very decent odds on racing debuts.


Island Master (89) by Turtle Island trained by Liam Burke

The Cork handler belatedly opened his account for 2014/15 with victory for a gelding contesting his eighth race including a bumper (beaten 42L) on his most recent start last May. I am not hugely enthused by the winner although Burke did opine that “he will make a fine chaser in time” so I will include him for the long haul as he’s now expected to go hurdling possibly after contesting a winners’ event.

Personally, I believe it’s an indication that Burke’s horses are in rude health – he also had two seconds on the same card – and I think he could easily win a race or two on the track over Christmas at a decent price or two. He hasn’t been in the best form of late so a winner would be extremely profitable if it can be found.


Kayf Supreme (87) by Kayf Tara trained by Jim Dreaper

Bred to stay this horse was bought by present connections for a whopping £115,000 after he ran second in a point last November behind a winner trained by the very same Jim Dreaper. The winner, Venitien De Mai, is one of my strongest fancies to win races (entered at Thurles on Monday 5th Jan) and obviously Dreaper thinks very highly of him to encourage Alan Potts to purchase Kayf Supreme. Strangely, it has taken him four subsequent runs to win his point-to-point although he has been running respectably in those contests.

Dreaper, whom I mentioned in my very first blog, is very much a believer in educating his horses in points has produced some really nice sorts like Royal De La Thinte, Goonyella and Venitien De Mai for Alan Potts in recent years and I would be very keen to include Kayf Supreme (rated 87) in this select band now that he has won his maiden. If he follows recent trends he is likely to contest winners’ events before heading to the track although it appears it is now more likely he will start his hurdling career early in the New Year.


Borris House, Co. Carlow

This was a new autumn fixture for the Carlow Farmers Foxhounds (they normally race in early spring) and they were handsomely rewarded for their pluckiness with 105 runners from 140 entries necessitating 3 divides and all the maidens – four, five and six-years-old and upwards required two divisions. Given my eye as self-appointed guardian of the Queen’s English I can simply relate the news that the divisions of the older horses’ maidens were won by Rebel Benefit and, remarkably, Royal Benifet, truth being stranger than fiction.

The new well-supported fixture meant much-needed funds for the Hunt but, obviously, no previous history to aid us in our search for future winners.


4yo maiden: 

Raise A Tail (88) by Definite Article trained by Mark Fahey

There are more Fahey’s from the same midlands family involved in racing in Ireland than there are peas in a pod and the names of Seamus, Jarlath, Peter and Paul will be familiar to most Irish racegoers. Mark Fahey hails from the very same pod (a version of the Irish twelve apostles?) and last Sunday he saddled Raise A Tail to win division one of this maiden before rushing to Navan to saddle Golden Plan in the handicap hurdle and finally donning his amateur-jock silks and finishing fourth in the bumper for Jessica Harrington. All in all, not a bad day’s work.

He has trained a few pointers since 2012 (two of his previous three winners have won under rules) and has trained two winners himself under rules and although he handled Golden Plan to win a 6yo maiden in December 2012, that Goldmark gelding had won a Tramore bumper before the month was out for his uncle Peter. Could lightning ever strike (almost) twice with Tramore scheduled to race on New Year’s Day?

Raise A Tail paid a compliment to his conqueror Minmore Lodge (joined Donald McCain for £40,000 after the recent sale) from the maiden at Kirkistown a few weeks earlier although on this occasion the market decided that, as it had been just a four-runner event, the contest lacked depth and he was allowed to start at a drifting 6/1. He jumped poorly at times and his rider briefly lost an iron after a mistake at the second last so he did well to score on the day as he needed a decent turn of foot to collar the leader on the run for home.

He has a very nice, dependable pedigree as the dam won a point and two modest handicap hurdles for Jarlath Fahey in 2007 and she is a half-sister to 5 winners of 16 races including the mare Rathmuck Native – winner of a solitary bumper for Peter Fahey – who is also by Definite Article so he shares the same father with his mother’s half-sister! History would suggest heavy ground would be unsuitable for Raise A Tail and that victories will come in unheralded events on days that the world won’t be watching. Apparently there will be a post-race family enclave to decide on the horse’s future with the grand matriarch Maureen holding the casting vote.


Fingerontheswitch (89) by Beneficial trained by Donnchadh Doyle

Another winner from the Doyle production line this 2/1 winner had nice placed form behind Gingili (bumper winner) and Shantou Village (£80,000 purchase) on his only two previous starts. He had failed to sell (as maiden-placed) at the Brightwells November auction so he is probably heading back to this venue in January with more realistic prospects of selling.

His pedigree offers a little hope being by Beneficial and he is a half-brother to The Bomber Ryan, a winning pointer who is very well handicapped over hurdles – provided he hasn’t retired. His Crash Course second dam won three times over hurdles and one expects that Fingerontheswitch will do whatever winning is in him over staying trips on soft/heavy ground.


5yo maiden 

Get Involved (87) by Milan trained by Sean Doyle

Form figures of “PU, UR, 8”  hardly inspired confidence prior to this two-division contest and an examination of his pedigree – eighth foal and no siblings have ever placed on the track out of an equally winnerless dam line – offered little encouragement there so there will be no great clamour for this horse if and when he turns up for sale. If connections can recover his cost of €14,000 as a store three-year-old they may regard is as a “result” after an unpromising start to his career. The second-placed horse from this maiden catches my eye and he is another added to a long list of less-obvious track-winning potential material.


Hitman Hearns (89) by Milan trained by Liam Kenny

A double for Milan in this divided maiden but likely to feature more for modesty than brilliance I would venture that a winner’s rating of 89 is generous. This was the gelding’s ninth start although his improvement has been credited to a wind operation earlier in the year after he had failed to complete in six previous starts. His pedigree is quite respectable and should he progress through the winners programme next spring (he needs good ground) he might be a summer horse to follow in time but not an obvious candidate for now.


Boulta, Co. Cork

This was an additional fixture for the United Hunt having run their traditional autumn meeting on 23 November, just three weeks earlier. Another very healthy entry saw 95 runners and (groan!) another divide in the two geldings’ maidens.


4yo maiden 

Hawkhurst by Flemensfirth trained by Denis Leahy

This was Leahy’s first time to visit the winners’ enclosure this season and he boasts a very respectable 19% strike-rate with all his runners since 2007. His winning maidens have been very popular with Donald McCain but, ironically, it was the 2012 4yo winner, Desertmore Stream (£105k), that he did not purchase that turned out to be the best of Leahy’s graduates who won four races for Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown outfit. Dan Skelton also picked up the four-time winner, Ballincurrig (£50k), from this quarter. McCain’s winners have tended to be lesser lights and include Beeves, Oscatara (£55k), Dreams Of Milan ((£65k) and Blackwater King (£85k) who have all won at lower more modest level. Blackwater King, incidentally – who has won a Kelso hurdle – was from the same ownership as Hawkhurst.

Leahy himself also trains a few for the track and he managed to squeeze a handicap hurdle out of his winning 5yo, Handsome Dan, a rare winner tracing back to September 2012. If he does have another rules winner lurking in the shadows of his Charleville, Co Cork yard it might well be the mare, Rosygo, who collected a mares’ maiden in 2013 and hinted at some decent ability in a Clonmel maiden hurdle some weeks ago when running out of her mare-only class and against a Mullins’ hotpot to boot. When she won her maiden she was spoken about in terms of a mares’ bumper. I advise a weather-eye on her.

Hawkhurst picked up a very decent rating of 92 in coming home alone from three unraced maidens and showed plenty of class to win in very a very flattering style. There’s little doubt he was a class apart here and the form of the vanquished will be followed closely to confirm this very catching first impression. He has all that would be asked of a maiden winner being a full-brother to the top-class winner Muirhead (Grade 1 hurdle and Munster Chase National winner) who was fifth in Punjabi’s 2009 Champion Hurdle. He cost €41,000 as a foal and will be in great demand when he turns up at public auction although the trend nowadays is to sell privately once the phone calls start from the big cheeses of the jumping game. My guess is that he will soon be a Gigginstown starter and will be “flying high” for Mr. O’Leary.


 Just Cause g by Court Cave trained by Michael “Mouse” Morris

Mouse Morris really only lives for the big horseracing occasions nowadays and following his ascent of the Gold Cup peak with War Of Attrition in 2006 everything he does since happens with a sense of anti-climax. He continues to enjoy the patronage of many of the bigger owners in the game, including War Of Attrition’s owner Gigginstown Stud, and division two of this 4yo maiden saw the launch of the latest arrow attempting to hit a variety of Cheltenham targets over the next few years.

He does use the point-to-point circuit as a launch-pad and usually is not the greatest fan of bumpers in a horse’s education. War Of Attrition fell in his only start in a point while his top-class First Lieutenant and Rule The World (still no forlorn hope for top honours according to Mouse himself when I ran into him recently and a horse I have great faith in personally). In fact Rule The World was Mouse’s only previous 4yo maiden winner since 2007 so I would put great store in this son of Court Cave to defy a relatively modest rating of just 87 when he starts his career under Rules. Morris gave €60,000 for Just Cause as a 3yo at the Tatts Derby Sale in 2013 and he is an own-brother to Willie Mullins’ Clondaw Court, unbeaten in all five of his competitive starts including a point victory in 2012 for Colin Bowe. In fact, Clondaw Court may yet turn out in time to be his father’s best track representative an honour currently held by Martin Keighley’s Champion Court. Just Cause’s dam won a chase over three miles and she in turn is a half-sister to a mare who won five times over a trip. Just Cause had finished third in a maiden earlier in the year for Gordon Elliott and the same owners (Gigginstown) and he merely confirmed here what he promised to do last March.

There’s no doubt in my mind he will win races and hopefully we will all be on when he does!


5yo maiden: 

Queer Times g by Zagreb trained by Donal Coffey

Jumping historians or enthusiasts will immediately recognise a play on the name of Vincent O’Brien’s 1955 Grand National winner, Quare Times, whilst those of a PC bent will perhaps raise an eyebrow for some other reason entirely. Alternatively, anyone searching in an encyclopaedia for a definition of “quare” will have to rely on me that it is often used in the context of “well shure, he’s a quare one!”

All I can say about this trainer – based in Midleton, Co. Cork, home of the nonpareil Jameson whiskey – is that he has been practising his art for 15 years and anything that wins a point maiden for him should be followed closely and this advice applies both to horses sold on and the few horses he retains to train privately under Rules. He has a superb record training winners between the flags and under Rules and from a very modest sample has produced horses of the calibre of Presenting Copper, Copper Bleu, Gurtacrue and the excellent mare Top Madam.

Of five siblings of Queer Times, including a full-brother, all have won on the track (including three who managed to win a bumper) and the dam won a bumper for Di Haine on her first start.

This horse, winning on his third start and rated 89, was impressive and wherever he goes, he should be followed.


Bigbadjohn g by Vinnie Roe trained by Garrett James Power

Following a nice fourth (rated 83) behind Battle Of Shiloh two weeks earlier Bigbadjohn (87) scored by 3L with a staying performance on this his fourth attempt at breaking his duck. He jumped poorly but managed to beat a horse that was beaten out of sight in a Cork bumper last August. Out of a four-time bumper/hurdle/chase winner (at a modest level) Bigbadjohn’s siblings to date have been a forgettable bunch and this offers a chance to recoup some of the €22,000 the dam cost in 2005.

I can find no compelling reasons to add him to my tracker.


Horses To Follow:

Double Captain 

Dalia Pour Moi 

Drumlee Sunset 


Island Master 

Kayf Supreme 

Raise A Tail 



Just Cause 

Queer Times

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