Carlisle staged a decent eight race card on Sunday and it was Brian Hughes and Nicky Richards who grabbed the headlines with 4 winners apiece. Indeed, the latter sent out four winners and a second from a handful of runners. Chapel Stile had run well at the same venue last month following a lengthy absence when finishing third behind Two For Gold (won again since) on his chasing debut. The half-brother to National Hunt Chase winner Rathvinden confirmed that view with a last gasp win in the two miles novices' handicap chase. The Scorpion gelding still appeared to have plenty to do to reel in longtime leader Cloudy Glen with quarter of a mile to run - all the fences in the homestraight were omitted due to the low sun - but he stayed on strongly to lead close home and prevail by a neck. Speaking to his rider Ryan Day afterwards, he believes there is a big prize to be won with Chapel Stile one day. A return to three miles will be very much in his favour and one can envisage him contesting something like a Scottish National in the future. The further he goes, the better he will be.
Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers section in OJA included Mackenberg and the Jukebox Jury gelding scored readily on his Rules debut in the concluding bumper. Despite failing to complete in his two runs 'between the flags,' the four year old was highly regarded by Donnchadh Doyle and Donald McCain had to go to £90,000 to secure his services. A full brother to Mark Johnston's useful middle distance three year old Mind The Crack, he was always going well and proved far too good for his opponents. A six lengths winner, it would be no surprise to see him kept to bumpers this season before going hurdling next Autumn. He could be a useful sort. The Grand National winning trainer is putting together a quality team of youngsters with the likes of Chuvelo, Goobinator, Minella Trump and Grade 2 winner Navajo Pass.
Owner Rich Ricci was responsible for a short price double at Naas on Monday. Tiger Tap Tap, who showed a high level of form in juvenile hurdles last season, did what he was entitled to in the maiden hurdle. Fourth in Grade 1 company behind the ill-fated Sir Erec last term and ninth in the Triumph Hurdle, he was stepping up to two miles three for the first time here and stayed on too strongly for his opponents. Like his stablemate, Bapaume benefited from his seasonal pipeopener at Fairyhouse last month and made no mistake on his second run over fences in the beginners' chase. Fourth in last season's Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham, the Turtle Bowl gelding jumped beautifully and looked in control a long way from home. A five and a half lengths winner, Willie Mullins' charge is likely to be kept at intermediate trips for the time being, although he stays much further. His jumping alone will ensure he win plenty more races over fences, he looks a natural.
I am working at Catterick tomorrow for Racing TV. I will therefore be back to update the Diary later in the week. In the meantime, please head to the Publications section of the site to order a copy of the Christmas Special, if you haven't already done so.
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