Gabby’s Cross – 6th in 3.00 Leopardstown 27/12/22
Gabby’s Cross is starting to become frustrating but I do feel there is a big Handicap Chase in him when he can put it all together. He was ridden out the back for this competitive Paddy Power Chase and was just starting to get going when an error at the last almost brought him down. A tired horse would have gone down there but he stuck a leg out and picked up again to finish a strong sixth. I am not sure if he will be going for the Thyestes at Gowran but he remains of interest off his current mark. He has form on ground ranging from Heavy to Good/ Yielding and beat Busselton three starts back at Galway in the Guinness Galway Blazers.
Equinus – 2nd in 12.00 Chepstow 27/12/22
Equinas did just about everything he could do wrong in this race and still had an engine good enough to finish second to the well supported Evan Williams horse Out Of Office. He was second in his Bumper to Bowenspark who was capable of winning another Bumper, carrying a penalty. The third was Feel Good Inc who as I am writing has won a Maiden Hurdle at Doncaster. He took a step forward from his debut fourth over hurdles and is capable of winning next time if they can just settle him and get his jumping improved. Hopefully he will learn with racing because I was sure he would finish out the back of the field with how free he was running throughout the race.
Irish Panther – 2nd in 3.035 Leopardstown 27/12/22
Fact To File was in my 10 to follow for the year and he is a very talented horse. However it looks like he is all stamina and to be fair Irish Panther travelled all over him up to the furlong pole before Fact To File found more for pressure. Irish Panther would be the type that would suit the Cheltenham Bumper if he were to go. He looks to have the pace and class for two miles and yet stays 2m4fs. He was second in a 3m Irish P2P and is definitely capable of winning a Bumper. He is 33/1 antepost for Cheltenham and the owners came third in that race with James’s Gate last year.
Gold Speed – 4th in 2.20 Leopardstown 27/12/22
Gold Speed ran a creditable race to finish fourth behind the impressive Winter Fog. He has an official rating of 119 and can be competitive off this mark. He has won over 2m4fs so a step up in trip wouldn’t inconvenience this horse. If connections were to put a good 5lbs claimer on him he’d have a right chance of getting his head in front again. With Adrian Murray as the trainer you might just get a good each way price for Gold Speed in the coming weeks.
Almuhit and Zanndabad – 6th and 7th in 12.05 Leopardstown 27/12/22
In the same race as Goodie Two Shoes, two horses that also caught my attention were Almuhit for Denis Hogan and Zanndabad for Tony Martin. Almuhit seemed to get outpaced at the second last before staying on again at the line to finish his race strongly. He is capable of picking up a race soon but even more so the Tony Martin trained Zanndabad. He ran wide throughout, jumped and travelled and stayed on stylishly to the line. Brian Cooper never laid a glove on him and he has plenty of ability. The application of cash is a phrase that comes to mind when best to back him down the line but he looks talented.
Goodie Two Shoes – 3rd in 12.05 Leopardstown 27/12/22
Goodie Two Shoes was a big eyecatcher in this three year old Maiden Hurdle. He was caught wide around the final bend having travelled well throughout the race in mid division. He made up a lot of ground to the final flight where he nearly landed sideways over it before staying on again for third. He finished 4 ¼ lengths behind the winner Tekao and is capable of winning next time out, especially if Joseph O’ Brien can polish up his jumping .
So Des Flos – 4th in 12.35 Leopardstown 26/12/22
So Des Flos caught the eye when staying on for fourth place in the Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown. Dark Raven was a worthy winner on the day and brought some good Bumper form into this race. The more fancied Gordon Elliott horse Doctor Bravo ran second but So Des Flos came from a long way back to make up late ground at the finish. He was sent off at 25/1 and I would be keeping an eye for him in a weaker Maiden next time, if not he could be going down the handicap route where he should be capable of picking up a few races. Either way he ran well for his debut run and will have learnt plenty going forward.
Positive Thinker – 2nd in 3.20 Cork 11/12/22
Positive Thinker was unlucky to bump into a handicap debutant when finishing second to Nephin Beg at Cork. The two took each other on from the start in this and the rest never got involved at all. He jumped well and just got outpaced at the last before staying on strongly, just denied. He was second before that at Limerick when an untidy jump at the last was his undoing. He should be picking up a race soon at this level.
Too Friendly – 2nd in 3.00 Cheltenham 09/12/22
Too Friendly was unlucky to bump into the improving Punctuation in the two mile handicap hurdle at Cheltenham Punctuation is on an upward curve having completed the four timer but Too Friendly travelled just as strongly as the eventual winner up to the final furlong before eventually going down by 3 ¾ lengths. He was second on his penultimate start behind Homme Public off a mark of 123. He has gone up to a mark of 125 but is still handicapped to be winning shortly.
Off Your Rocco – 8th in 3.05 Fairyhouse 04/12/22
Off Your Rocco caught the eye in the competitive Grade A Handicap Hurdle on Sunday at Fairyhouse. He made nice progress up to two out before weakening, approaching the last under a hands and heels ride by Jordan Gainford. Gordon Elliott was very clear before the race that both his runners would come on for the run and this horse is definitely capable of picking up a prize over the coming months. Winner Merlin Giant looks like a Galway Hurdle candidate next summer for owner Mrs Mee who targets that festival. He is now rated 140. Second placed Pinkerton has been raised 3lbs and is due to pick up a handicap of this nature very soon.
Explosive Boy – Fell in 3.02 Fairyhouse 03/12/22
Explosive Boy looked all over the winner before falling at the second last in a (80-130) Handicap Hurdle over two miles and four furlongs. He was making smooth headway under jockey Peter Carberry up the far side, joining the leaders after the third last and it looked like Carberry was just taking a grip to stop his horse from winning too far before crashing out at the second last hurdle. I strongly believe this horse has loads in hand off an official rating of 111.
Gesskille – 2nd in 2.05 Aintree 03/12/22
We backed Gesskille two starts back when second at Aintree over two miles and five furlongs when finishing an agonising nose second to Al Dancer. Don’t ask why I deserted him for this race knowing the extra trip would only be a benefit and it was almost a costly mistake. He again finished a nice second, this time to Ashtown Lad. That was his second good run over the National fences and the target now seems to be the Topham Chase at the National meeting. He probably won’t get in at the weights for the National itself and I would still have question marks whether he would stay that marathon trip. Two Miles five furlongs on safe ground looks perfect and he is one for the tracker in the Spring.