The guys at www.p2p.ie have been writing for us all season and they are back with their latest column. This month they give is the lowdown on all of the recent big money sales from the sphere, and look ahead to the Grand National...
If we have learnt anything in the last couple of months, it is that the appetite for young horses with form is more substantial than ever.
Following on from the recent Tattersalls Cheltenham sales in February where the record was smashed for selling the most valuable point-to-pointer of £480,000, a highly impressive 13 horses surpassed £100,000 at the festival sale at the same venue last month. The catalogue had the feel it was the most solid it had been in years and the figures didn't disappoint.
Staged in the winner's enclosure of the racecourse following racing on day three of the festival, the highlight of the evening came from the five-year-old mare Maire Banrigh. By the deceased sire King's Theatre, the five-length Lingstown debut maiden winner became another record-breaker when becoming the most expensive point-to-pointer of her sex, having been knocked down to John Hales for £320,000.
A couple of lots earlier, Ballyboy Stables who have enjoyed plenty of success at this sales venue, again hit top figures and there was plenty of interest for their Tyrella four-year-old maiden winner Palmers Hill. He was handed a rating of 94 following that success, placing him into the top 15 novices' we have seen this season between the flags. He sold to Kieran McManus for £310,000.
Other notable business included ten-length Tattersalls Farm winner Slate House for Ian Ferguson and Lismore maiden winner The Dellercheckout for Cormac Doyle both selling for £260,000. These are horses which are likely to have glittering careers for their new connections and are well worth your interest as they begin to appear on the racecourse.
Big figures handed out at this particular sale is not uncommon, Minella Rocco coming to mind having topped the sales there in 2014. The son of Shirocco fetched £260,000 two years ago by Kieran McManus and returned to the scene of his purchase to run an excellent race finishing a staying-on second in this year's Gold Cup.
Hopes were high in the weeks leading up to the festival as pointers accounted for 25% of the 451 horses which lined up. Without being a vintage Cheltenham festival for Irish pointers, there were a number of highlights, the afore-mentioned Minella Rocco being one. The eight-length Horse and Jockey winner for John Nallen, was beaten just over two-lengths into second in the National Hunt feature, with former pointer Native River a short-head back in third.
Petit Mouchoir was another who ran a lovely race having finished third in the feature on day one, the Champion Hurdle. The Gigginstown House recruit who was a good winner of a Kirkistown maiden under Roger Quinlan in 2015, still held every chance approaching the last and the grey son of Al Namix lost little in defeat, becoming the first pointer to place in the two-mile race for the last ten years.
On to the winners and the victory of Special Tiara in the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase was a special one. Third in the two previous renewals of the race, the son of Kayf Tara finished second on debut at Boulta in November 2011, setting a fierce pace under Paul Power, a trait which he has become customary with the exciting sort. Yorkhill a winner for Colin McKeever on his second try on the point-to-point circuit, winning a four-year-old maiden at Tattersalls Farm under Derek O'Connor in the colours of long-time points supporter Wilson Dennison, was another impressive winner for pointers.
Former pointer Special Tiara Claimed A Famous Champion Chase Success
The seven-year-old son of Presenting has only been beaten on one occasion since making his debut under rules and is now a two-time Cheltenham festival winner, having landed the JLT Novices' Chase this term and the Neptune Novices' Hurdle in similar impressive style last year. Gigginstown House Stud recruits Road To Respect (Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase) and Champagne Classic(Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle) completed the winners for former pointers.
Heading into April and Aintree is fast approaching. The top of the Grand National market is loaded with ex-pointers and I will be hoping we can land the staying handicap for the second consecutive year after the victory of Rule The World last season. Definitly Red won his maiden at Loughanmore in October 2013 for Brian Hamilton and has been well-supported ante-post for this race following his Grimthorpe handicap chase win at Doncaster earlier this month.
He is joined at the head of the market by Blaklion a Tinahely winner for Colin McKeever, while One For Arthur, The Last Samuri and Pleasant Company are other former pointers well fancied for the Liverpool feature.
We have an exciting period of racing in the next few weeks as the National Hunt season winds down and with many ex-point-to-pointers sure to make their rules debuts hopefully we will have plenty of winning newcomers and Aintree festival winners to talk about in next month's feature.