Danny Kirwan earns Doyle tribute after commanding win under Codd
I’ve been lucky to ride some good horses for Pat Doyle, who is widely recognised as one of the best judges in the business. So when I heard that Pat had described Saturday’s Lisronagh four-year-old maiden winner Danny Kirwan as potentially the best horse he had ever trained in this age group, I can absolutely guarantee we’re talking about a genuinely exciting prospect.
Jamie Codd was on the Scorpion gelding, who was in complete command from the third-last and won as he liked from a pair of horses who had the benefit of previous experience.
I imagine Danny Kirwan’s owner Roddy O’Byrne has already received a few offers over the phone for this fellow. With any luck we will see a lot more of this horse. I’m told he’s named after a man from the town of Kilmacthomas, County Waterford, who celebrated his 100th birthday last year, a very nice touch by the owner.
Danny Kirwan’s French-bred dam Sainte Baronne was placed in all three bumper starts in the 2008/09 season when trained by Matthieu Palussiere. The Frenchman was based in Ireland at the time and also trained a good mare called Tramp Stamp. As followers of Flat racing will know, he is now established back in his home country and brought off a big shock when saddling Different League to win the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot this year.
I was in action at Dowth Hall on Sunday but I’m afraid I got only a distant view from the rear of the field of another highly impressive four-year-old maiden winner, Good Man Jim.
This grey son of Martaline was sent to the front by Shane Fitzgerald and jumped really well, with the exception of a mistake five out which didn’t seem to take anything out of him.
His handler Mick Goff has produced some very promising youngsters in recent seasons. This fellow could be another very good one.
Shumaker comes good at Portrush
Shumaker gave the performance of the day in the five-year-old maiden at Portrush on Saturday. He has plenty of experience, starting off on the Flat for Noel Kelly, though he didn’t show much in five starts and was than well beaten in a couple of runs over hurdles in the early part of last season.
He was sent point-to-pointing towards the end of last season and started off with a promising effort at Portrush. He was still in with a chance against the favourite Manetti when falling at the last. He went to Bellurgan and was leading when falling at the ninth of 15 fences in a race won by Global Citizen, who subsequently fetched £275,000 at the sales.
It looks as though Shumaker has turned a corner as far as his jumping is concerned. He was foot-perfect for Mark O’Hare on his way to a ten-length victory over Some Response, who also finished second at Loughanmore. He seems to have matured well and I think he could be a different proposition now if his owner Karen McNeilly decides to send him back over hurdles.
Gavin Cromwell saddled Court Cave gelding Weakfield to beat O’Hare’s mount Brace Yourself in the four-year-old maiden. It was jumping that made the difference here. Mistakes by Brace Yourself at the last two fences gave the initiative to Weakfield, who showed a good attitude in responding well for Anthony Fox, with the pair clear of Colin Bowe’s Duc D’Allier.
Weakfield is out of a mare by Flemensfirth and has no shortage of stamina in his pedigree. On the other hand, he is a half-brother to a good Flat mare who helped to put the trainer on the map, the 2014 Irish Cambridgeshire winner Sretaw.
I was involved in an exciting tussle in the open. There was nothing in it between my mount Sizing Coal, Sambremont and Yes Tom over the last two fences before Sizing Coal found a bit more in the closing stages to win by a neck for Jim Dreaper in the Potts colours. There should be a fair bit of improvement from this first run of the season and he could make his presence felt on the hunter chase scene later on.
Dowth Hall fixture a massive success
Congratulations to everyone involved with a fabulous day at Dowth Hall on Sunday and with Saturday’s eve-of-racing ball in aid of the Irish Injured Jockeys and Farm Africa.
Sunday’s attendance of 6,000 speaks for itself and they were treated to a wonderful day-out. The catering was first-class, there was a brilliant range of entertainment and activities for families and children, the weather was good and there was a fantastic atmosphere. The racing was good too and there was no repeat of the traffic problems which were a black mark on the event a year ago.
This event, backed by the Devenish Group, has developed into one of the big days in the point-to-point calendar, a perfect way to showcase the sport while providing all-round family entertainment. Great credit is due to Devenish chairman Owen Brennan and his team for having the vision to combine the Meath & Tara point-to-point fixture with a country fair.
The Devenish chairman called it a “great celebration of country living and community life”. I couldn’t agree with him more.
You cannot repeat this sort of initiative every week of the season, but something similar once a year in each of the point-to-point regions is a realistic goal. A lot of hunt committees are already on the right track in their efforts to create a full day of entertainment for children and families and this is definitely the way forward if point-to-pointing is to prosper as a spectator sport in future.