By Your Side – 4th in 2.10 Naas 26/02/23
By Your Side is a winner in waiting in my opinion. He would have given the well handicapped Luimneach a right race of it at Naas only for a shuddering error at the last, eventually finishing third. At Naas last Sunday he did the exact same, travelling like the winner before nearly unseating Jordan Gainford at the last. He ended up finishing fourth. He is due a change of luck and should get his head in front over the next race or two.
Early Arrival – 4th in 3.20 Fairyhouse 25/02/23
Early Arrival was a noticeable eye catcher here. With an official rating of 88 he can pick up a Handicap at this level over 2m 4fs. His best form is on Yielding ground so it may be a good time to catch him. Jockey Kieran Callaghan took a handy 7lbs off and it looked like he was giving him an easy time of it until the last hurdle when he realised how well Early Arrival was responding to pressure. He gave him a couple of backhanders and the horse flew home, eventually finishing a 2 ¾ lengths fourth behind last week’s eyecatcher Jump The Shark. I wouldn’t give up on him yet either.
Highway One O Five – 3rd in 5.20 Kempton 25/02/23
This race caught my eye on Saturday as it looked like a hot Bumper with a Nicky Henderson Newbury Bumper winner and an Alan King horse that won on debut at Huntingdon before finishing third at Cheltenham last time out. Not to mention the Irish p2p horses that had sold for big money making their debuts. It was Highway One O Five that caught my eye having travelled smoothly throughout the race just to tire in the final furlong and get run out of second by the staying on Support Act. Support Act should improve for a step up in trip and an obstacle to jump. However, Highway One O Five is bred for speed and can pick up a Bumper before taking on a Hurdle. The winner, East India Express, was impressive.
Mister Pink – 2nd in 5.05 Fairyhouse 25/02/23
Willie Mullins was confident of a big run from Mister Pink and thought he was a nice horse. That said there was strong support for the Gordon Elliott trained Down Memory Lane while Mister Pink was weak in the market. Mister Pink got caught for room coming around the final bend when Golden Wonders held his ground to force Patrick on Mister Pink to go wide where he picked up, running on well through the line. Mister Pink will have learnt plenty from that run and should win his Bumper next time out. He is smartly bred and enjoys good ground.
Vicky Victoria – 2nd in 5.12 Gowran 18/02/23
Vicky Victoria finished second behind the exciting Brighterdaysahead. Brighterdaysahead should live up to her name after winning here in good style. Gigginstown Stud paid 310,000 for her as a three year old. She is a half sister to both Mighty Potter and French Dynamite and going forward could make it to the very top of the mares division. The form line I am working off here is the third place Ascending Lark. She was beaten on rules debut by Fancy Girl who ran in the Grade 2 Mares Bumper at the Dublin racing festival finishing fourth 11 ¾ lengths behind Fun Fun Fun. Ascending Lark had the nicest passage of all through this race and still could only finish 8 lengths behind Vicky Victoria. Vicky Victoria could be capable of picking up a weak mares Bumper before going hurdling.
Mistral Milly – 4th in 4.45 Ascot 18/02/23
The biggest eyecatcher of the weekend was Mistral Milly in the Mares Bumper for Alan King and jockey Alexander Thorne. She was given an educational ride by her jockey as she was far too free early and had to be buried behind runners to try and get her to settle. It took half the race but she did eventually drop the bit. She ran wide around the last bend and ran on really takingly to finish a 3 lengths fourth. She never got a proper smack of the whip and it was a lovely introduction to racing for her. She is only four and was running here off a feather weight but she can pick up a Bumper win next time out. There is plenty of speed in her pedigree.
Neon Moon – 2nd in 2.25 Ascot 18/02/23
Neon Moon is back on a mark that can see him pick up a handicap over the coming weeks. He won off marks of 119 and 122 over Hurdles and now has an official mark of 125 Chasing. He was second at Taunton off 2 lbs lower on his penultimate start and was beaten by a well handicapped Cap Du Nord last Saturday. He has form on ground varying from good to soft and can pick up a handicap off this sort of mark.
Filey Bay – 2nd in 3.35 Newbury 11/02/23
Another McManus handicapper and this guy will target the County Hurdle at Cheltenham next. He now has a rating of 137 having been raised 4 lbs for finishing a length second to Aucunrisque who heads to the Grand Annual at Cheltenham. It was 11 lengths back to Teddy Blue back in third and this was Filey Bay’s first real taste of a competitive Handicap. He made two jumping mistakes and will have learnt plenty from the race experience. Donagh Meyler did nothing wrong as jockey and it will be interesting if he retains the ride.
Falvio – 2nd in 2.50 Naas 11/02/23
Falvio under normal circumstances was given the perfect ride by Danny Gilligan. Unfortunately for him he bumped into a seriously well handicapped Luimneach who could have won this by a lot more if let go. Aidan Kelly had a fierce hold of Luimneachs head over the last to try and keep the winning margin to a minimum and the 8 lbs rise by the handicapper shouldn’t be enough to see him not go in for a three timer next time out. As for Falvio he just bumped into one as they say. He has been raised 3 lbs for that second but should be able to pick up a handicap off 95. I can guarantee you Jump The Shark will end up a lot higher than his 98 mark rating that he now has. Jockey John Shinnick did a lot of waving around with his stick but he never looked for anything near full effort from Jump The Shark and this was the first sign of what is to come from him after finishing down the field on his previous runs. He’ll be aimed at a suitable handicap soon.
Della Casa Lunga – Fell in 1.40 Naas 11/02/23
Della Casa Lunga traded short when falling at the last under Rachael Blackmore. I personally feel that Hands Of Gold would have outstayed her but she would have definitely finished second and is a mare that should pick up a suitable race very soon. If you can’t get an each way price about Purse Price i wouldn’t touch her as she has become a bit of a bridesmaid horse. Chautuaqua also caught the eye in fourth. She flattened the second last hurdle before Della Casa Lunga fell in front of her at the last. She picked up again to finish out her race well under hands and heels.
Byker – 3rd in 1.05 Naas 11/02/23
Charles Byrnes has his horses in good form and let’s be honest if he wanted this horse to win he would have as well. He got a rating of 124 by the Irish Handicapper, add another 5lbs from the English Handicapper and that would get him into the Boodles off 129 or so. Philip Byrnes will be back on board and I would give him a solid each way chance. As for Saturday Philip Enright let him drift from the inside to the outside after the second last. Let him drift left after the final flight before straightening him up to run on at the line finishing 1 ¾ lengths behind Sir Allen. Naas is a lovely track to prep a horse for Cheltenham and Byker stayed on strongly to catch the eye in a race that is usually informative towards the festival.
Fun Fun Fun – 1st in 4.40 Leopardstown 05/02/23
Fun Fun Fun was very impressive in the Mares Grade 2 Flat Race beating last year’s winner Lily Du Berlais by all of 9½ lengths. She is only five and I would rather see her go for the Grade 2 Mares Bumper in Aintree rather than the Grade 1 Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham festival. The owners already have the ante post favourite It’s For Me in the Champion bumper at Cheltenham and it can be hard on a young mare like Fun Fun Fun. The way she picked up after the bend when initially being ridden was hugely eye catching. She has loads of speed and enjoyed that better ground. I was in the Stand at Leopardstown directly across from the finish and she ran through the line strongly. She is very good and one for the future.
An Mhi – 9th in 4.10 Leopardstown 05/02/23
An Mhi is a horse that is crying out for a step up in trip after finishing ninth of seventeen in the 2 miles Handicap Hurdle won by the impressive favourite Gaelic Warrior. An Mhi was fourth in his P2P for Gordon Elliott and was well touted before that race. It ended up being an above average point with the three ahead of him making close to a million between them in the sales ring soon afterwards. He has a Hurdle mark of 122 now and when stepped up in trip could be dangerously well handicapped. He is only six and will probably turn into a nice Chaser next season.
De Lady In Red – 8th in 1.10 Leopardstown 05/02/23
De Lady In Red was never going to be given a hard race here after a layoff of 364 days. She jumped off near the rear and was impeded by a faller at the first hurdle. She made a significant move around the last bend following the favourite Liberty Dance. A race fit Liberty Dance quickened away but I thought De Lady In Red stuck to her task well to finish 14½ lengths and eight out of twenty two runners, under a hands and heels ride by Michael O’ Sullivan. She is rated 121 over Hurdles and is capable of picking up a good race off that mark. She has won over 2m4f so won’t mind a step up in trip if needed.
Party Business – 9th in 2.55 Sandown 04/02/23
Party Business was just shy of 20 lengths behind winner Green Book in the Pertemps Qualifier at Sandown last Saturday. That was his first run in 273 days and he caught the eye travelling smoothly around the final bend before blowing up after the second last. He was allowed to coast home at his own pace thereafter but should step forward for that run. Party Business won a Handicap Hurdle off a mark of 132 last April and is now on a mark of 139. He is entered in a Pertemps Qualifier again this Sunday at Exeter. Last year he was fifth in the Martin Pipe Handicap at Cheltenham 6 ¾ lengths behind Banbridge. With improvement fitness wise, he could be competitive in a Handicap at either Cheltenham or Aintree.