It was already a very black week for horseracing with the tragic death of Jack Tyner in Ireland on Monday, who passed away from serious head injuries that had been sustained in a fall at Dungarvan Point to Point the previous week. My sympathies and thoughts are with the Tyner family at this terrible time. More devastation followed yesterday; first with the unbelievable events at Newbury that sadly resulted in the loss of two horses; Marching Song & Fenix Two. Then came the loss of Kilmurry in the Kingmaker Chase at Warwick, followed rapidly by a fatal injury to Money Trix in the Hennessy at Leopardstown, in which Glencove Marina also lost his life after putting up a career best effort to finish second. This game we love can be very cruel sometimes.
Leopardstown held a card that wouldn’t look out of place on any day of the Cheltenham Festival. Kicking off proceedings was the Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle which saw Unaccompanied run out an easy winner. The filly was a winner on the flat during the summer months which included a victory at the Galway Festival; she had also won a maiden hurdle at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve. The next stop will be the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival for which she is now disputing favouritism with Grandouet after having her odds halved immediately after the race by Ladbrokes (6/1 from 12’s). Unaccompanied will receive the useful 7lb fillies allowance in the Triumph. Taking that into account and with this performance on her first foray into graded company she must surely hold every chance in the race.
Bostons Angel booked his ticket to Cheltenham after emerging the victor from a driving finish with Magnanimity in the Grade One Dr P.J Moriarty Novice Chase. A head separated them at the line and both horses are heading for the RSA Chase. Bostons Angel had won the Fort Leney Chase over three miles at Leopardstown during the Christmas meeting. After this success he was cut to 16/1 from 33’s by Paddy Power for the RSA. Second placed Magnanimity showed that his victory over major RSA fancy Jessies Dream over course and distance in January was no fluke and remains value at 20/1 (Ladbrokes and Paddy Power) for Cheltenham. There was drama at the second last when Quel Esprit fell and badly hampered stablemate and favourite Mikael D’Haugenet who eventually finished third. The jury is out as to whether Mikael is completely in love with the chasing game. He is quoted in both RSA Chase and World Hurdle Markets and is entered for both races; however Trainer Willie Mullins said post race that they will have to talk about where they go next with him.
Fresh from Bostons Angel’s win trainer Jessie Harrington and jockey Robbie Power achieved a Grade One double when Oscars Well impressed in winning the Deloitte Novice Hurdle. Even money favourite Zaidpour appeared to be toiling on the home turn in fifth place then found plenty under a strong drive from Paul Townend to run into second place but had no answer to the five and a half-length victory of Oscars Well. The winner holds entries in the Neptune and the Albert Bartlett at the Festival. Jessie Harrington stated that the Neptune will be the most likely target; he is now second favourite behind Bobs Worth and is generally available at 6’s and 7’s. Zaidpour however has had his odds pushed out for both the Supreme and the Neptune. (14/1 for the Supreme and Neptune).
Kempes put right some earlier disappointments for team Mullins, by winning a dramatic Hennessy Gold Cup that was marred by the fatalities of Money Trix and Glencove Marina. Kempes had been running a big race when unseating in the Lexus Chase over course and distance in December. He was brought steadily into the race by David Casey and took the lead from the tiring China Rock on the approach to the last. This win gave Willie Mullins a seventh victory in the race. Last year’s winner Joncol finished third but never look threating at any stage. Kempes will now be aimed at the Gold Cup for which he is now into 16/1. Plans for Joncol are unclear as jockey Alain Cawley reported that the horse was showing no zest for jumping. Trainer Paul Nolan said after the race; that he has no idea where he will run next as they need to get him right as he is better than that.
Warwick staged the Kingmaker Novices Chase often used as a stepping stone to Cheltenham. Voy Pour Ustedes won the race en route to Arkle victory in 2006 as did Flagship Uberalles in 1999. Finians Rainbow will attempt to do the same next month but his victory in the race can only be described as satisfactory after a few jumping errors. Kilmurry was challenging only for disaster to strike two out with him suffering a fatal injury. Finians Rainbow drifted slightly in the markets for the Arkle but still disputes favouritism with Ghizao at 9/2 and 4/1 in places. Connections state the horse will improve for this run as the race was all about teaching the horse to settle as he is very strong minded.
Cathryn Fry, 13 February 2011