Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John made a winning return in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown with a terrific performance. Overcoming an early mistake, Jessica Harrington's stable star stalked Djakadam, who was seeking his third consecutive win in the two and a half miles Grade 1 even, before leading after the third last. He readily saw off Willie Mullins' gelding and was full value for his seven lengths success. It remains to be seen where he heads next but, on this evidence, the seven year old looks every bit as good as last season.
Injury denied Getabird the opportunity to contest the Cheltenham Festival bumper last spring having won a couple of bumpers at Fairyhouse and Gowran. However, the Susannah Ricci owned gelding returned to action over hurdles at Punchestown this afternoon and ran out a decisive seven lengths winner of the two and a half miles maiden hurdle. Paul Townend feels the former pointer is still green and will improve with experience. Ability wise, he looks set to develop into a leading contender for the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham but it is worth noting he is quite a fragile horse.
Talking of former pointers, Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers were in fantastic form on Saturday with Chooseyourweapon (5/6), Defi Bleu (4/5) and Speak Easy (10/1) scoring at Chepstow and Navan respectively. The last named was particularly impressive in the opening two mile maiden hurdle. The same contest was won four years ago by Vautour and, while the Beneficial gelding has a long way to go before he can be talked about in the same terms, it was a highly promising start to his Rules career. Trained by Joseph O'Brien, the four year old powered away after the last to beat the more experience Dis Donc by half a dozen lengths. He looks very much one to follow.
Invitation Only made amends for an early fall on his chasing debut at Punchestown by getting his career back on track with an impressive four and a quarter lengths win in the beginners chase at Navan on Saturday. Making all, the Graham Wylie owned gelding jumped well throughout and always appeared to be in control. Minor niggles have blighted his relatively short career thus far, so it is hoped those problems are behind him because his talent has never been questioned. If kept in one piece, he possesses the ability to emerge as a JLT or RSA Chase contender next spring.
At home, Paul Nicholls claimed his tenth win in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown via Politologue. The John Hales owned grey has come into his own since dropped back to the minimum trip and had reportedly improved since his win in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter last month. The ex-French gelding fended off the late challenge of Fox Norton, who gives the impression he is ready for a return to longer trips. The Queen Mother Champion Chase is very much on the winners agenda, whilst it will be interesting to see if Colin Tizzard's runner-up heads to Kempton on Boxing Day for the King George.
“Thank you for a very successful and profitable email service. My personal highlight was the win of Aloomomo whose romp round Uttoxeter was a joy. Keep up the good work with all your services, the books and updates, they are simply the best by a very long way.”
“Just want to say thanks for running the service again this year, I have ended up with a nice £756 profit from it so I'm obviously very happy with that so thanks a lot!”
“Thanks for your email Mark would just like to say your selections and insight has been awesome. Keep up the good work sir your service is the best.”
“Thank you for an excellent tipping service throughout the three months. It has been a pleasure and profitable to be a member of your service. Your indepth knowledge and analysis of the race has been excellent. I honestly rate your service as one of the best and most profitable.”
“Thanks very much for the fantastic service you have supplied, I have been involved with racing tipsters for over 30 years and never had as good a strike rate as yourself, out of this world.”
“The email service as usual has been brilliant and this season's OJA seems to continue to unearth amazing insight if you have the time to trust and follow it in detail over a period. Thanks as always for your outstanding value for money publications.”
“Superb information again Mark, I managed to get some 11/4, will certainly pay for Xmas. Different class.”
“Awesome result the magicman strikes again. Won with plenty in hand and not a moments worry great write up spot on again and results speak for themselves best service I've tried, keep up the fantastic work sir. Very happy customer!”
Mark Howard Publications Ltd.
69 Fairgarth Drive