Mark Howard Publications Ltd

Weekend Review

10-December-2017 18:55
in General
by Admin

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.


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