There have been a mixed bag of results for the Christmas Special but 2020 ended in the perfect fashion with Riviere D'Etel scoring impressively on her Irish debut at Punchestown on Thursday. A daughter of Martaline, she was highlighted in the French Revolution - Part III section on page 14, and had finished runner-up on her jumping debut at Auteuil in September. Subsequently bought on behalf of Noel and Valerie Moran, she was fitted with a hood on her first run for Gordon Elliott and was quite keen early on. However, with the exception of the third last, the grey filly jumped well and stretched clear on the home turn. A twelve lengths winner, she further strengthens her trainer's squad of juvenile hurdlers and is another exciting three year old for her owners who are also responsible for Triumph Hurdle ante-post favourite Zanahiyr. It will be interesting to see where she goes next but either way she is an exciting prospect for this season and beyond. Available at 5/2 the Wednesday evening, she was sent off 4/7 favourite.
Good Ball was the horse leading bloodstock agent Anthony Bromley was most looking forward to over the Festive period and, he, too, had finished runner-up on his sole start over obstacles at Auteuil in October. Transferred to Paul Nicholls soon afterwards, he won on his British debut at Newbury on Tuesday. Like Riviere D'Etel, he wore a hood but appeared to settle well enough. Tapped for speed on the approach to the second last, Harry Cobden's mount picked up well thereafter and stayed on strongly to win going away by a length and a quarter. The former champion trainer views the Doctor Dino gelding as a three mile chaser in the making and fences are likely to be on the agenda next Autumn.
Declan Phelan suggested Staker Wallace was the banker of the four day Limerick Festival and Enda Bolger's charge duly won the maiden hunter chase by a length and three quarters. Partnered by Barry O'Neill, the nine year old took charge down the backstraight and never looked like relinquishing the advantage. The winning margin flattered the runner-up. Fourth in the Foxhunters' at Cheltenham in March, it would be no surprise to see him return there in the spring.
I was disappointed Dorking Lad couldn't take advantage of his opening mark of 117 on his handicap debut at Market Rasen on Wednesday. Gary Moore's gelding spoilt his chance by an indifferent round of jumping and is crying out for a step up to two and a half miles. Once his jumping becomes more polished and he is upped in trip, he will be winning races.
Sirwilliamwallace appeared to have been found an ideal opportunity in a novices' handicap chase at Kelso on Tuesday. Sandy Thomson's gelding had jumped to his left at Carlisle on his previous start and was returning to the scene of his only win over hurdles last season. Beaten three and a half lengths in third, I think he would have won under a more sensible ride. Attempting to make all, he was asked for a big jump down the backstraight and, having made an error, the seven year old nearly ran off the track. However, instead of given time to regain his equilibrium, he was rousted along to regain the advantage and driven into the next fence. One could argue he held every chance in the homestraight but I feel that incident cost him the race. He is handicapped to make amends in the near future.
There were a couple of other notable winners on Wednesday who were featured in One Jump Ahead and the November Update. Stellar Magic (9/4) provided the Irish Pointers article with yet another winner when scoring on his Rules debut at Taunton. Trained by Philip Hobbs, the Arctic Cosmos gelding travelled and jumped well throughout before staying on well to win by a length and a quarter. He is a bright prospect and that comment also applies to Kalkos (2/1) who was included in the French Revolution - Part II in the November Update. Third on his sole start in France when handled by Francois Nicolle, he changed hands for £210,000 in December 2019. Fifth on his first run for Henry De Bromhead at Navan last month, he appreciated the drop back in trip at Limerick making all. Rachel Blackmore's mount produced a splendid round of jumping before winning by two and a half lengths. He will make some chaser next season.
I would like to wish all subscribers and contributors a healthy and prosperous New Year. It has been a pretty awful 2020 thanks to the coronavirus but your support has been tremendous and much appreciated. Stay safe.
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