Week 10: Autumn point-to-point season

10/12/2017 Borris (heavy)

4yo mares maiden: two divisions    

First run in 2015 this race produced the high-class Threeswallowsnick in 2016 who won two bumpers fir Gordon Elliott and although she received a very modest winning rating of just 79 it is important to point out that this was supplemented by a win in a Mares Winners Of One event for which she was raised to the lofty perch of 94. This attracted Willie Mullins and Harold Kirk who gave £110,000 for her and she was one of the casualties in the Gigginstown/Mullins split with Elliott benefitting. However, she pulled up lame on her only hurdling start and that was that!

Western Victory (Colin Bowe) by Westerner 3- (R84)

A decent rating and it appears she is staying with Colin Bowe – finished fourth in a modest Limerick mares’ bumper at Christmas – but I will never forget how adept Colin Bowe has been at handling such high class mares from the pointing field as Askanna and Our Victoria although both showed good form in winners’ events before being aimed at the track. I would love to see Western Victory return to winners’ company to signify greater than average ability after her quick debut under Rules which is ideally what one needs before more confidence in her ability can be presumed. On the other hand, a rating of 84, based on past evidence, does make her a certainty to win under Rules.

Malachys Girl (Donnchadh Doyle) by Darsi 242-2 (R80)

I will be surprised if this mare is anything special and a win in handicapping company is probably her best possibility. Nonetheless I will be keeping an eye on her.

4yo maiden:

Three track winners from 6 divisional scorers since 2014 with disappointments and great promise amongst the candidates. Jessica Harrington’s Raise A Tail was hopeless but one of last year’s winners, Fabulous Saga, has already an RPR of 150. Fingerontheswitch won four for Neil Mullholland and I suspect that Farm The Rock will soon win a handicap chase for Katy Price.

Division I: Reikers Island (Tom Keating) by Yeats 42-3 (R92)

Pedigree: €28,000 3yo, £60,000 Cheltenham December 2017 Aiden Murphy; 12th foal; half-brother to 8 winners inc Modesto (German 2m4f Listed hurdle), Mexican Border (85-rated 2m handicap hurdle winner ), Mountain Forest (2m AW-won off 45 & 41) and Moldavia (1m3f Fibresand RPR only 58); dam German 1m2f winner, from family of Monsun.

There was some nice form on show in a field of just 9 runners. Reikers Island was second on summer ground at Kinsale in June yet handled contrasting conditions here on what was his fourth start. He is a promising sort that should need trips in excess of 2m4f.

If there was an affordable flat and national Hunt stallion in recent years that I would have bet the farm on –if I had a farm – it was the wonderful Yeats. Alas, he failed as a flat sire and is now in the Coolmore NH division although he has yet to produce a real household jumping name other than, perhaps, Augusta Kate (143) and Thomas Campbell (159). Many will argue its relatively early days for him at this jumping game but I, for one, would be broke by now.

The relatively modest winning marks of a host of his siblings would temper enthusiasm for Reikers Island who is probably called after the notorious (Wikipedia calls it the “famous”!!) Rikers Island jail in New York City where they incarcerate you and throw away the key.

Anyone sad or drunk enough to sing the Munster Rugby or Anfield anthem “Low lie the fields of Athenry (Anfield Road)” (guilty, milawd) may be aware that the reference “Trevelyan’s Corn” appears in the song-of course, as usual, the name of the horse is misspelled! The origin of the expression relates to the Irish famine of “black ’47 (1847).

Division II: Trevelyn’s Corn (Colin Bowe) by Oscar Unraced (R94)

“He is a lovely big easy going horse. We put him away in the spring and it paid off today.”

Colin Bowe certainly won’t be starving for a while after this Oscar gelding was fought over by J P McManus and Paul Nicholls at the Cheltenham Sale 5 days later with the latter winning the auction duel and shelling out £400,000 for a horse that, in the words of Irish Field editor Leo Powell, “you have to go back a number of generations in the family to find any winner of note”. Bowe also collected £300,000 for Straight Red and £100,000 for Blackjack Kentucky on the night so not a bad evening’s work.

Pedigree: €14,000 foal, €45,000 3yo, £400,000 Cheltenham December 2017; second foal; dam point/bumper winner-she won the relatively “famous” Tipperary mares’ point-to-point bumper in 2007 for the dubious rating of just 90!, she is a half-sister to 2m6f chase winner Oh Highly Likely (beginners’ chase, rated 80) and bumper/2m hurdle winner Pateley (Charlie Swan) out of a bumper/2m4f and 3m hurdle winner.

One of the stars of the autumn so far, Trevelyn’s Corn made a whopping £400,000 when offered for sale in Cheltenham a few days after this contest. Run in a faster time that Division I he was an expensive store purchase last year and he travelled supremely well throughout this race. He jumped well and outclassed his rivals. One expert noted that he was the only newcomer on the day to win in such heavy conditions thereby adding to his lustre.

The production-line Wexford handlers are certainly paying far more on average for their 3yo stores today and this €45,000 investment was handsomely rewarded. They are clearly carrying collective 4yo investments of easily €1m-€2m+ each season so the big pay days are needed.

Seven de Baune ran second in Division I for Northern Ireland’s Brian Hamilton and he has already been acquired by Roger Brookhouse for £75,000. By a very good (if somewhat unknown) French sire, Tiger Groom, he ran very well on his pointing debut and is a full-brother to French 2m2f-2m6f hurdle/chase winner Tiger De Baune whose dam is a 2m4f-2m6f cross-country chase winner and she in turn is a full-sister to 2m4f-2m5f cross-country chase winner Coureur De Baune.

Also, I mentioned Joseph O’Brien last week in the context of training a 4yo maiden (High Sparrow) to finish second at mainstown and who has already collected a Limerick bumper over Christmas. Given the enormous operation he is running with upwards of 200 horses in training under both codes I am intrigued by the question: “why is he running horses in point-to-points given his lofty ambitions of playing at the highest level?” I speculate that the answer lies in the ownership of these pointers and that it is a shop window to sell on horses owned by his mother Anne-Marie. High Sparrow appeared to win at Limerick in new colours. On Call was a €40,000 store purchase in 2016 and he was presumably bought to sell on to a prospective owner and remain on The Hill.

On Call finished second behind Trevelyn’s Corn for Joseph and this Flemensfirth gelding obtained a rating of 87 running in his mother’s colours once again. He was bought-in for £35,000 at the December Cheltenham Sale 5 days later so I guess they will look for a new syndicate to take him over now. Being second to a £400,000 history-maker and from a stable of such prominence as an O’Brien yet he cannot shift a relatively promising Flemensfirth for thirty five grand. What a funny old game! The cynics will be saying “why didn’t rhe stable’s existing owners buy him?” He stayed on in the closing stages here in the shape of a horse already needing a trip.

5yo maiden:

 “He is an out-and-out stayer and a brilliant jumper”

The last four winners have all moved to the UK and all have won for new trainers off marks of 111, 107, 118 and last year’s winner, Swift Crusador (the spelling!!), won his bumper first-time-out for Evan Williams and is now rated 125.

Roundstone (Gearoid O’Loughlin) by Flemensfirth Unraced (R92)

Pedigree: €15,000 yearling, €100,000 3yo; fifth foal; full-brother to bumper/smart 2m-3m hurdle/chase winner O O Seven (rated 153 over fences for N Henderson); dam 1m/9.4f handicap winner (marks of 53 and 47), half-sister to 1m2f Listed winner Mick’s Love and 1m (Ire) and 8.5f (USA) Listed winner Any Song.

Roundstone cost a very expensive €100,000 Euros as a four-year-old out of the 2016 sales. He was in a race for sure when his only serious rival, Billaway, pitched over on landing at the second-last fence and he strolled home alone thereafter.

The above quote is from his young trainer who has now passed the horse on to Gordon Elliott on behalf of his owner Chris Jones. As I write I note that Roundstone has run in a maiden hurdle at Navan earlier this afternoon and after being supported in the market connections will be very disappointed with a “pulled up” effort over 2.5 miles after making the early running. It is notable that this horse cost €100,000 as a 3yo. Its early days yet for a horse lauded as “an out-and-out stayer”.

The standout takeaway horse for me from this race is trained by relatively unknown Tracy Gilmour who pre-trains some horses for her neighbor Willie Mullins, or certainly did in the past.

The horse in question is Billaway who was a faller at the last and was threatening to land some decent market support. He was running a lovely race and is certainly an above average type on this initial showing. Compensation will be a mere formality. He is slated to sell at the Goffs January sale in three days time so it will be a very nervous few days for Gilmour. Postscript: I must confess that I am baffled to see this horse returned as “not sold” at just £37,000 in the Goffs UK January sale.

10/12/2017 Boulta (heavy)

4yo mares maiden:

The three previous runnings of this December maiden are certainly sufficient reason to pay it some proper respect: the inestimable Ms Parfois (2015) has been performing brilliantly for Anthony Honeyball (winner of two listed chases from 6 wins in all) whilst, not for the first time, I note that Michael Scudamore did a masterly handicapping job on the 2014 winner Twenty Eight Guns. Even last year’s winner, Lostin A Fog, may not have run under rules but she’s added a further two wins since pointing in the UK.

Siege Of Tobruk (Niall Kelleher) by Milan F2 (R75)

 Her second-placing (R79) behind Danse Idol, has already been boosted by that mare’s runner-up finish in a Punchestown bumper recently. She was bought-in for £60,000 at the recent Cheltenham Sale so it’s unclear if she found a new home. £60,000 was plenty pricey as a putative reserve but the market is frothy (to say the least) at the moment.

What mare exactly to follow from this race is a conundrum as it witnessed the last fence fall of Con O’Keefe’s Kilbarry Angel when well clear at the last. What I am certain about is that Kilbarry Angel – awarded a massive 85 rating for her ultra-promising run – simply has to be followed based on this run and an outstanding pedigree.

Siege Of Tobruk had good form in the book – a recent second to Danse Idol at Boulta- obviously scored here with luck on her side. Her rating of 75 puts her in the lowest echelon of winning 4yo mares so perhaps she needs to win a winners event and secure a higher rating before becoming a “horse of interest”.

 As Kilbarry Angel has been given a rating of 85 this is right up there with the marks given to the perceived best 4yo mare performances over the years. Cloudy Rock and Baby Shine are just two examples of similarly-rated winners and both performed very creditably under Rules. It is informative to note that Kilbarry Angel (74 @ 7/4F) only finished third in her most recent mares’ event on New Year’s Eve but it does not dissuade me from following her track exploits should Con O’Keefee choose to send her into battle there. She really has a cracking pedigree and a few course wins would nicely enhance her value.

4yo maiden:

“He’s a horse we have always loved…but he has a huge engine”

Once again, this has been a very useful maiden and, run at two separate locations, has produced winners in the past of the calibre of Golantilla (131), Sir Abbot (123), Just Cause (122) and last year’s hurdle winner Chris’s Dream (128). I also think that the 2015 winner Clondaw Westie – trained by Lawney Hill – is very well-placed to score very soon off a very unburdensome mark of 95.

Press Conference (John Joseph Murphy) by Getaway 3- (R90)

Pedigree: £160,000 Cheltenham December 2017-Mrs J Harrington; 8th foal; half-brother to bumper/useful 2m2f-3m hurdle/chase winner Lambro (W Mullins and rated 142) and Market Rasen bumper winner Captain Bocelli (Anabel Murphy); dam French 2m1f hurdle winner was bought by Murphy for £10,000 in 2003 is a half-sister to French 2m2f/2m3f Listed hurdle winner Baleare.

The winner had been a relatively unfancied 7/1 shot when third at Quakerstown last Spring (R83) but put that experience to good use in battling up the straight for a narrow win over Kildrum who also battled on well although he came under pressure quite a distance from home.

Murphy nominated a bumper run immediately afterwards perhaps, significantly, on better ground than the atrocious going encountered today, but the lure of an alternative bumper i.e. a payday! proved too much and Press Conference has been snapped up by Jessica Harrington for £160,000.

There are a variety of “also-rans” that will be going into my rather replete trackers and these include Kildrum – fancied in the market and a good second to earn a rating of 88 – the third-placed Getaday (R87) trained by T J Nagle for Paul Barber – I would love to see Nagle campaign him in chasing handicaps in Ireland – and the David O’Brien-trained Cusp Of Carabelli who unseated when beaten but the market support catches my eye. The latter is owned by a syndicate of dentists and they would dearly love to breed a point and track winner. Incidentally, Kildrum is trained by Brian McCarthy who is associated with the County Clare Hunt and his only previous winner was the 2016 winner Lovenormoney who went on to do himself justice for Warren Greatrex and is the only other horse he has handled in points.

5yo maiden:

Past history is not hugely impressive but it is capable of throwing up a good winner with 2012 winner Bob Ford (won 6 for Rebecca Curtis) and four-time 2015 winner Bigbadjohn (again, R Curtis) being the standouts.

Rosmuc Relay (Thomas G. Barry) by Presenting 3 (R86)

Just six runners and the winner, like in the 4yo maiden, had finished third on his only previous start, this time at this same venue two weeks ago (R70) behind martin Hassett’s The Conditional. In truth, it looked a weak contest so I am uncertain as to the ability of the winner particularly as the runner-up wandered badly in the closing stages relinquishing his winning chance. Postscript: This less-than-stellar review is put in the shade by the fact that Rosmuc Native has already scored over hurdles for Kim Bailey!

Pedigree: €26,000 3yo, £42,000 Cheltenham December 2017 Kim Bailey; second foal, her year-younger full-sister has won a hurdle for Michael Winters and is regressing very acceptably down the ratings since(!); dam unraced sister to bumper/useful 2m2f-3m hurdle winner Bygones Sovereign – six-time winner for David Pipe, out of unraced sister to bumper/2m-2m4f high-class hurdle/useful chase winner Mister Morose (won 2000 Aintree Hurdle(G1) for Twiston-Davies).

Barry has trained just six winners in 10 years but his claim to fame is that he handled the 2012 National Hunt Chase winner Teaforthree who won a Domahane maiden for him in 2010. Rosmuc Relay cost €26,000 as a 3yo so he returned a profit on investment, albeit a relatively modest one.

If you would like to get in touch to discuss any aspects of the bloodstock and racing industry please contact me at: dskelly@davidskelly.ie

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