The jumps season stepped up a gear in the last week with some big names reappearing and some smart prospects laying down their markers for the season ahead.
TOTAL RECALL MAKES A MOCKERY OF HIS MARK
The Munster National run at Limerick on Sunday looked like a decent betting heat, with a Willie Mullins horse heading the market and a big field giving favourable place terms. However, it was turned into a procession as the Mullins hotpot TOTAL RECALL (154) made an absolute mockery of his handicap mark of 129. Previously trained by Sandra Hughes it is scarcely believable how much improvement Mullins has managed to eek out of the horse, albeit he had run with promise from such a mark last season.
|Total Recall||Jury Duty||Attribution|
The sectionals as taken from the first jump in the shorter races are shown in the table above. The race won by Jury Duty was run at a relative crawl, but Total Recall still clocked a time 1.5s quicker despite travelling two furlongs further. He was heavily eased in the closing stages and was in fact 4s quicker to the final flight! Attribution ran a quicker time as can be seen above but this was over 4.5f further, and once adjusting for this it points to a big number for Total Recall. He will rightfully get murdered by the handicapper off the back of this, presumably to a mark in the mid to high 140s, but he can go in again of such a mark…perhaps even in the Ladbrokes Gold Cup at Newbury.
I bet ALPHA DES OBEAUX (160) in the race and although he was well handicapped he was unfortunate to bump into the winner. That said it was good to see him return back to form, having put up some big numbers for me in the past, most noticeably behind Thistlecrack in the Stayers Hurdle and behind Coney Island in the Drinmore. His problems were well reported last season, and having bled it is possible he will always be hit and miss and perhaps even need to be fresh to be at his best.
The other two chases on the card saw a smart introduction to chasing for JURY DUTY (140) over 2m6f. Well fancied when third in the Pertemps last season he was given a straightforward enough introduction to chasing here and was relatively untroubled in success. He can take decent rank in the staying novice chase division, and looks a RSA horse at this stage.
ATTRIBUTION (151) and CHILDRENS LIST (154) fought out the finale of the other chase on the card, with the former coming out on top. He ran some nice races in defeat last year, and seemed suited by this step up to 2.5m in fending off his rival who was travelling better. A former 3m pointer he could be worth trying up to 3 miles in future.
The runner-up travelled menacingly in behind but perhaps their relative match fitness paid its toll in the ground. This was Childrens List first run since beating Edwulf on New Year’s Eve last year, and he confirmed the promise of that run with a decent first showing this season. Another from the point to point field, he is actually a half-brother to Schindlers Hunt and could pay his way in Grade 2/3 races over 2.5miles for connections. Although considering those connections are the Mullins/Ricci/Walsh triumvirate his odds may not be appealing.
ROBIN DES FORET JUMPS TO THE TOP OF THE NOVICE HURDLE TREE
Over hurdles we saw a stunning performance from ROBIN DES FORET (156) to win the listed race over 2m5f.
|Balakani||Robin Des Foret||Drakaina||Crown Of Gold|
As you can see from the sectionals above, taken from the first jump in the two mile race, Robin Des Foret clocked the fastest time despite racing over further than two of the other races on the card and carrying at least 6lbs more than the winners of those other races. It was a stunning performance as he travelled well throughout to dispatch his well fancied stablemate FABULOUS SAGA (149).
The winner has been on the go throughout the summer and continues the previous Mullins trend of running his decent horses “out of season”. He looks a top prospect for the Neptune or Albert Bartlett novice hurdles.
The runner-up had similarly been on the go throughout the summer and maybe set the race up for his stablemate here. He is an exciting horse for the remainder of the season and on pedigree and point to point background could go well up in trip to 3 miles and the slower pace of race there could suit. He seemed exuberant in front and if he can settle over that sort of trip he would be a live threat. But as ever with Mullins, we have to keep all trip options open at this stage!
It would be appropriate to mention MEGA FORTUNE (150) at this stage. He was set to take the opening hurdle race in fine style on his seasonal reappearance before succumbing to a horrendous fall two from home. It was horrible to watch and served a reminder to us all of the risks involved in racing, and that is something we should all wrestle with in our minds. These animals are treated like kings, but accidents like this are still hard to take. Mega Fortune had proved a brilliant acquisition from the flat and had adapted into a top juvenile hurdler. He was set to clock a decent time here and with some improvement would not have been out of place in Grade 1s this season, or the big handicap hurdles. He will be sorely missed.
SOME HYPE HORSES WIN, BUT DON’T IMPRESS ON THE CLOCK
There are three horses I want to talk about here, the first being the Champion Bumper horse of last season FAYONAGH (117+).
There was one other race on the Fairyhouse card run over 2miles, and this was won by Russian Roulette in a handicap hurdle off a mark of 108. Fayonagh clocked the same time from the first flight to the line and carried 7lbs less in doing so!
I played around with the numbers and comparisons with the other races on the cards, and a mark of 117 was all I could give last season’s bumper heroine. Sure, she was relatively untroubled in defeating her rivals and one would expect her to progress a lot from here, but it backed up the underlying view I have that last season’s bumper horses weren’t a vintage crop. Samcro and Lalor were the two that looked the ones to take out of last year for me, and it will be interesting to see how Fayonagh progresses. At this stage, Elliots call to target the mares novice would look to be appropriate.
SHATTERED LOVE (120+) was another that falls into this category. She was untroubled in despatching weaker rivals but didn’t clock a time of any note.
|Bamako Moriviere||Shattered Love||Fenlon’s Hill|
As we can see she was consistently the slowest of the three winners when timed from the first flight in the two mile race, and on the clock her performance only merits a number of 120. That said though, she looks a big imposing horse and clearly well suited to chasing. There will be tougher engagements than this down the line and hopefully she will be up to the task.
Whilst the two mares are horses I feel can leave the marks I’ve given them well behind, I confess to not buying into the hype around PALMERS HILL (118+) who won a 2 mile maiden hurdle at Uttoxeter. A staggeringly expensive purchase from the point to point field this horse has featured in many a “horses to follow feature” in the build up to this season.
|Palmers Hill||Dusky Raider||Difference|
The other two mile race on the card was a handicap won off a mark of 97 by Dusky Raider. Although there was a slow pace in the maiden hurdle, Palmers Hill still only clocked a time 1.68s quicker and did so carrying 9lbs less. Even adjusting for the quicker finish I still only give him a mark of 118. Again, you would expect him to progress someway from here and he did travel well in this race. His long term future presumably lies in staying chases, but better point to point judges than I have similarly balked at the £310,000 fee paid for him and I can’t help feeling he will turn into a costly horse for connections and probably a costly horse to follow.
DEATH DUTY ANNOUNCES HIS ARRIVAL IN NOVICE CHASES
Although perhaps a bit disappointing in the novice hurdles at the backend of last season (though his run behind Bacardys and Finian’s Oscar shouldn’t be underestimated), it was good to see DEATH DUTY (134+) make a winning start to his chase career at Tipperary.
|Death Duty||Miss Eyecatcher||Crocodile Dundee|
Timed from the first flight in the two mile race won by Crocodile Dundee, we can see the three races were won in remarkably similar times. However, Death Duty did his winning over the longest trip (just short of 3miles), carried 5lbs and 8lbs more in weight than the other two winners, and seemingly did so while half asleep. In fact it seemed the horse had nearly sent Davy Russell to sleep as they approached the last and seemed set to be outrun to the line by CAP D’AUBOIS (133) in an enterprising ride from Ruby Walsh.
At the last Death Duty slowed into the jump and flicked over, losing a degree of momentum. However, once woken up and shaken up he picked up the runner-up with some comfort and wasn’t asked another question in the run to the line. Connections mentioned the Drinmore as a first target and that looks just fine by me! He should take high rank in the novice chase division this season, with perhaps the JLT a likely end of season target.