IR­ISH TOP 10

Paul turns his at­ten­tion to Ire­land for his horses to fol­low in the heart­land of jumps rac­ing

Racing Ahead - - PAUL FERGUSON -

BALLYOISIN (EDNA BOL­GER)

Af­ter just two starts un­der Rules, this for­mer Point-to-Point win­ner is open to con­sid­er­able im­prove­ment on his re­turn and is likely to head straight over fences. The five-year-old Pre­sent­ing geld­ing re­ally im­pressed when win­ning a maiden hur­dle at Na­van last Septem­ber, hav­ing ear­lier fin­ished third (be­hind Li­mini) in a re­ally warm maiden at Punchestown. Enda Bol­ger has been very pa­tient with Ballyoisin to date and this will hope­fully be re­warded in the com­ing sea­sons,as he looks a lovely long-term prospect for JP McManus.

CONEY IS­LAND (ED­WARD P HARTY)

There wasn’t much between this horse and Bell­shill at Punchestown in April and both horses can be ex­pected to take high rank among the Ir­ish stay­ing novice chasers this sea­son. Given the fact that I’ve in­cluded four from the Wil­lie Mullins yard, I thought I would side with Ed­die Harty’s run­ner here, even though he was beaten a half-length by his afore­men­tioned ri­val in the Grade 1 Ir­ish Daily Mir­ror Novice Hur­dle last time.

Off the mark at the third time of ask­ing over tim­ber at Leop­ard­stown over Christ­mas, the stoutly-bred Fle­mensfirth geld­ing bounced back from fin­ish­ing last of five (Bell­shill in third) in the Deloitte Novice Hur­dle to land a novice hand­i­cap at Fairy­house over Easter. Lightly raced, the five-year-old is com­pletely un­ex­posed as a stayer and, given that he only made his race­course de­but last Novem­ber, there should be plenty more im­prove­ment to come.

DEATH DUTY (GOR­DON EL­LIOTT)

A wide-mar­gin Point-to-Point win­ner back in Fe­bru­ary of last year, Death Duty shaped well when third in a sales bumper at Fairy­house shortly af­ter (form worked out well), but ap­peared to step for­ward mas­sively when run­ning away with a Down Royal bumper on his reap­pear­ance.

Af­ter get­ting the bet­ter of Our Duke in a Listed event at Na­van,the Shan­tou geld­ing went down by 1¾ lengths at the ex­pense of sub­se­quent Grade 1 win­ner (and now sta­ble-mate) Blow By Blow, back at Fairy­house. Death Duty moved like the best horse in that race for a long way, in my opin­ion, and, though his fu­ture lies over fences,he ought to make up into a very smart novice hur­dler this win­ter.

He missed en­gage­ments in early Oc­to­ber, pre­sum­ably with Gor­don El­liott want­ing softer ground for him, but he could eas­ily de­velop into a graded class per­former through­out the win­ter months. The Na­van Novice Hur­dle is a likely tar­get in the early part of the sea­son, while he could be Al­bert Bartlett ma­te­rial come next March.

DI­A­MOND KING (GOR­DON EL­LIOTT)

A late en­try, fol­low­ing a very im­pres­sive chase de­but at Gal­way in Oc­to­ber,where he jumped re­ally well through­out, Di­a­mond King has al­ways been a horse that has promised so much and he is now start­ing to de­liver.

The win­ner of the Coral Cup in March, reg­u­lar read­ers of my work might re­mem­ber me wax­ing lyri­cal about this horse af­ter win­ning a cou­ple of bumpers in the north of Eng­land when trained by Don­ald McCain and he al­ways ap­pealed as the type to do well once sent chas­ing. Ex­pected to take his chance in the Grade 1 Drin­more Novice Chase next time, he doesn’t han­dle deep ground so might be given a mid-sea­son break be­fore re­turn­ing for the spring fes­ti­vals. The JLT at Chel­tenham or the Man­i­festo at Ain­tree are prob­a­ble end of sea­son tar­gets.

IDEN­TITY THIEF (HENRY DE BROMHEAD)

A high-class 2m hur­dler, Iden­tity Thief now goes chas­ing and he rates an ex­tremely ex­cit­ing re­cruit to the larger ob­sta­cles. The Kayf Tara geld­ing won at Down Royal and New­cas­tle (the Grade 1 Fight­ing Fifth Hur­dle) in the early part of last sea­son and, given how the Henry De Bromhead horses are usu­ally ready to roll (hav­ing been schooled ex­tremely well), he is one to catch on his reap­pear­ance.

The six-year-old held en­tries in be­gin­ners’ chases in early-Oc­to­ber, but his trainer is prob­a­bly wait­ing for the ground to ease a shade be­fore un­leash­ing his sta­ble star. The Arkle is the ob­vi­ous end of sea­son tar­get, though the Maghull at Ain­tree could be an­other op­tion, given the sta­ble’s re­cent record in the race.

IN­VI­TA­TION ONLY (WIL­LIE MULLINS)

A seven-length win­ner of a four-year-old maiden point at Bal­ly­noe last March, In­vi­ta­tion Only won both starts in bumpers last term,mark­ing him­self down as a very smart prospect for stay­ing novice hur­dles.

He stayed on strongly to score at Na­van on de­but,al­most a year to the day af­ter his suc­cess between the flags, and that form was franked early this sea­son when fourth home Mon­beg No­to­ri­ous won by 15 lengths for Gor­don El­liott and Gig­gin­stown House Stud.

The Fle­mensfirth geld­ing fol­lowed up in de­ter­mined fash­ion at the Punchestown Fes­ti­val, in the same bumper that Yorkhill had won for the same con­nec­tions 12 months ear­lier. Own­ers An­drea and Gra­ham Wylie have Cham­pion Bumper and Ain­tree run­ner-up Bat­tle­ford to look for­ward to in the novice hur­dle divi­sion this term, but this fiveyear-old looks ev­ery bit, if not more, ex­cit­ing.

KILLULTAGH VIC (WIL­LIE MULLINS)

Sadly forced to miss last year’s Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val, hav­ing made it two from two over fences in re­mark­able cir­cum­stances in a Grade 2 novice chase at Leop­ard­stown in mid-Jan­uary. If you’ve not see the race (I’m sure you all have) take a look on the atther­aces web­site.

The win­ner of the Martin Pipe at the 2015 fes­ti­val, he went on to beat Thistle­crack over 3m at Punchestown and looked a thor­ough stayer in the mak­ing. But, over fences, he showed a lot more pace and there should be plenty of op­tions for him to add to his tally as a chaser when he re­turns. Some­thing like the John Durkan at Punchestown would ap­peal as a log­i­cal early sea­son tar­get, af­ter which he could eas­ily be con­sid­ered for a crack at the King Ge­orge. The seven-year-old is com­pletely un­ex­posed as a chaser and could de­velop into a con­tender for ei­ther the Ryanair or Gold Cup.

KOSHARI (WIL­LIE MULLINS)

A win­ner over hur­dles on Box­ing Day in France, Koshari made a re­ally pleas­ing Ir­ish de­but when low­er­ing the colours of sta­ble-mate Bello Conti at the Punchestown Fes­ti­val in late-April.

The Walk In The Park geld­ing trav­elled supremely well through­out and, though he had to be rid­den right out af­ter get­ting in tight at the last, it was a thor­oughly

like­able per­for­mance. A chaser in wait­ing, he is likely to re­main over hur­dles this sea­son and it will be fas­ci­nat­ing to see how far he can go over tim­ber. He is ex­cit­ing, though be aware that he is no longer a novice, de­spite some of the big book­mak­ers think­ing oth­er­wise!

OUR DUKE (MRS JOHN HAR­RING­TON)

Jessie Har­ring­ton has a cou­ple of nice prospects for novice chases, in the shape of Wood­land Opera and Our Duke, and mar­ginal pref­er­ence is for the lat­ter, who looks ev­ery inch a chaser in wait­ing.

A 21-length win­ner of a Punchestown bumper on his race­course de­but last Novem­ber, he got within a half-length of Death Duty be­fore mak­ing a win­ning de­but over tim­ber. Third in a Grade 2 on his fi­nal start at Fairy­house in March, the Os­car geld­ing can be ex­pected to step up over fences and should cer­tainly de­velop into a graded class per­former for a yard that cer­tainly knows how to han­dle a high-class novice. Wood­land Opera is cer­tainly an­other for the note­books over fur­ther.

YORKHILL (WIL­LIE MULLINS)

Hardly an un­o­rig­i­nal se­lec­tion to end on, Yorkhill showed him­self to be a top-class novice hur­dler last sea­son and is now ex­pected to do like­wise as a chaser.

The six-year-old showed a blis­ter­ing turn of foot to shoot clear on the home bend,when beat­ingYan­worth in the Nep­tune, and he fol­lowed up at Ain­tree, de­spite do­ing a lot wrong dur­ing the race (very keen and prov­ing a very dif­fi­cult ride for Paul Tow­nend). Given these ex­ploits, I was sur­prised he turned up at Punchestown, so I’m happy to put a line through that de­feat.

As­sum­ing he learns to re­lax with age, this chest­nut has ev­ery­thing to go right to the top over fences and his chase de­but is some­thing to re­ally look for­ward to.

Iden­tity Thief

Killultagh Vic

Yorkhill

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