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Irish Racing Weekend Review – John Ring

Irish Racing Weekend Review with John Ring


The opening race of the weekend at Punchestown had the looks of a close race according to the starting prices but proved to be anything but as Jarry D’Honneur hacked up in the capable hands of Ruby Walsh. Always up with the pace he jumped exceptionally and tanked through the race before going away quickly after the last in impressive fashion. Apache Jack showed up well in second, jumping well for the most part and will improve for the race and step up in trip but with last years Albert Bartlett looking poorer and poorer form by the day handicaps would seem a more realistic target for him with regards to the festival. Bishops Road jumping was quite disappointing considering he had jumped reasonably well the time before but there’s a race in him all right. It’s best to write off Busty Brown’s performance as Carberry reported he never went on the ground.


The second looked an average affair on paper and turned out to be so. Treacy’s Star won handily enough in the end for Brian Hayes but considering that the trip was far too short and he’s not well handicapped Harangue’s finishing position of second would place fairly big question marks on the form. Pencilhimin can be forgiven the run as he burst a blood vessel and he remains thrown in over fences. Miss Xian is clearly well in on her hurdles form but her jumping is slow and cautious and it doesn’t appear to be improving at any great rate.


The third, a staying handicap chase went the way of the in form Declan Queally who can’t seem to stop winning at the moment. Roque Angel went out a long way in front to make it a slog and in fairness to Mouse Morris his tactics paid off as he undoubtedly outstayed his main opponents before he himself was outstayed by Portait King who had won over much further. Beforehand I was unsure whether On the Shannon would get three miles around Punchestown, however the way the race developed it was highly unlikely to last such a test and should not be dismissed next time without a closer look, although three miles remains a question mark for me personally.


In the feature, well what more is there to say about Douvan. He quite clearly is very good and although people were quick to have a go at Alpha Des Obeaux finishing second that horse is clearly quite progressive and despite running well over 3 miles previously is actually bred to be more of an intermediate distance horse in my eyes. He seems a bit of a lazy racer and if he does go to Cheltenham the Neptune would seem the option for me. Marinero is a horse I like and ran well I felt. He’s a nice moving horse and I would have thought he would be better on better ground, he remains of interest going forward. Blair Perrone was disappointing but travelled well and it would be unsurprising, given connections. if he was aimed at a valuable handicap, especially with his Leopardstown win hard to assess.


Mount Corkish Girl confirmed the promise of her Limerick performance at Christmas when running away with the mares maiden hurdle. At Limerick that day it was bottomless and I just felt she didn’t find as much as she might otherwise, on slightly better ground she picked up nicely and went away. Tri Na Ceile ran a good race in second. Despite not jumping fluently she stayed on well for second, interestingly she had jumped much better the previous race at Thurles and it looks to me like she jumps better with a bit of space around her, she may be an in running bet the next day if Robbie Power finds her a bit of space to get into a rhythm. Dantes Firth was hugely disappointing and doesn’t look one to hold maximum faith in at this stage, she had her optimum conditions here and apart from one poor jump she didn’t have many excuses, she is what she is but she’ll be tricky to win with in my opinion.


Lean Araig won the finale easily enough. Up in trip on handicap debut, once you could see he was starting to jump he was a great bet in running and he duly won handily enough. Sarah Battle ran her heart out again in second giving the form a solid look. The Mad Well found little off the bridle and didn’t seem to get the trip even taking into consideration its jumping. Marshim travelled very well for a horse who looked a doubtful stayer and who wouldn’t have loved the ground but found little, a drop back in trip and better ground and this old timer might just pop up again at some stage.


On Sunday the opening race looked a very competitive three year old hurdle. Ultimately it was won well by Officieux who improved for an aggressive ride from Paul Carberry. He kicked at the perfect time and won easily in the end. The 3 year old grade one at Leopardstown looks the obvious target. Hostile Fire hit a flat spot once again about 2 out but fought off Uradel for second. Uradel has been very disappointing and at this stage must be rated a doubtful stayer, however it would be no surprise to see him win a big flat handicap in the summer in my opinion. Battle Hymn was backed off the boards at the off which is always noteworthy for the Byrnes/ Russell combo but fell, he remains of interest next time but its probably best to wait for the market vibes before getting involved. The Living Beauty is nicely bred and was given an easy time of it first time out under Mark Walsh after drifting like a barge, it wasn’t the most fluent jumper but there’s plenty of room for improvement and may be one to keep an eye on! Both Focussed and Derbyshire look doubtful stayers.


The next maiden hurdle was a funny affair as Oscar Knight was the fancied and backed JP McManus runner only to be beaten by Rathpatrick who is in the same ownership. It’s always worth noting when one of JP’s wins unexpectedly and despite a number of small mistakes he was well on top at the finish. Likely to be suited by a step up in trip to aid his jumping he’s likely to be competitive in handicaps going forward. Clontarf ran a nice race back in 6th, staying on having been a touch outpaced. His half brother won up to and over 3 miles and being by Brian Boru there’s no reason to call this lad a speedster. He’s now qualified for a handicap mark and would be dangerous to discount over 2 and a half miles and up.


The handicap hurdle was won by the well handicapped and course specialist Might be Magic. As such the form is likely to hold up especially with Shabra’s Bertolini a recent winner back in third. Therefore the second placed Go Anna Go is likely one to follow going forward. She looked a winner half way up the run in before being collared. However she is a full sister to Go Paddy Go, a spring horse who appreciates better ground so it was a very promising handicap debut from that perspective considering it was soft/heavy in places. Blazing West improved a small bit back in fourth, however being related to both Blazing Sonnet and Blazing Tempo is likely to be around 20 pounds better over fences and is one to look out for in that sphere. Pleased as Punch needs better ground.


Mallowney shocked me in the next. After looking a small bit ungenuine at Cork before an average run at Leopardstown it was hard to fancy him to turn around form with Bright New Dawn. However a change of tactics worked a treat as the horse clearly relished being closer to the pace, he should be competitive in the bigger races from here on out. Bright New Dawn and Days Hotel gave the form a solid look. I’d say Sraid Padraig is being aimed at the festival.


Flourishwells D’ete was an easy winner of the next but isn’t a race I had much interest in as she was entitled to win with the weight she was getting, Art of Payroll is likely to be as good over fences but the handicapper is unlikely to be lenient. Shield’s jumping left a bit to be desired.


Champagne James was slightly disappointing in the next but Dromnea is a good jumper and seems progressive over fences. I thought it was a steadily enough run race though and despite James looking a small bit awkward and unwilling I don’t think the race was really run to suit. He remains open to plenty of progress over fences and I wouldn’t be ignoring him in a handicap. Gallant Tipp ran a good race but his jumping wasn’t amazing, One Cool Shabra is what he is and the proximity of Benash to them probably says a lot about how the race was run.


We are off to Thurles Thursday, it’s a really good card with the Kinloch Brae being the highlight and if you’ve a day off why not get down there to see a few serious horses who are Cheltenham bound!


John Ring

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