Five Irish jumps stars worth getting excited about
With the jumps action starting to heat up, Tony O'Hehir identifies five stars worth looking out for in the coming weeks
Acapella Bourgeois (Willie Mullins)
7 g Network - Jasmine
Joined Willie Mullins following Sandra Hughes's retirement and has yet to race for Ireland's champion. Created a big impression when making all for 32-length win in Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase over three miles at Navan in February. Relished the heavy ground on that occasion but below form on two subsequent starts. The Navan runner-up Road To Respect went on to win at the Cheltenham Festival before landing the Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse. One to watch when he gets his ground.
Coney Island (Eddie Harty)
6 g Flemensfirth - Millys Gesture
Trained by Eddie Harty for JP McManus, he has raced only three times over fences and has shown very good form. Won the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase over 2m4f at Fairyhouse before losing out by only half a length to subsequent Irish Grand National winner Our Duke in 3m Grade 1 novice at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting. Has not run since but has the scope to show nice improvement. Won over three miles over hurdles.
Fayonagh (Gordon Elliott)
6 m Kalanisi - Fair Ina
Proved herself a high-class performer in bumpers last season, winning four of her five starts and completing a Grade 1 double when scoring at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown festivals. Came from behind after being slowly away and produced a storming late run to score at Cheltenham. Different tactics were employed at Punchestown where she made all to win by five and a half lengths. Started off over hurdles with a comfortable victory at Fairyhouse recently and should have a fine season in the mares' division.
Our Duke (Jessica Harrington)
7 g Oscar - Good Thyne Jenny
Sizing John was the star of Jessica Harrington's stable last season but Our Duke emerged as a top-class chaser in his own right, landing a Grade 1 novice over 3m at Leopardstown in December before going on to trounce his rivals in the Irish Grand National, which he won by 14 lengths. He is rated only 1lb lower than Sizing John and is due to make his reappearance in the Grade 1 JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on November 4.
Samcro (Gordon Elliott)
5 g Germany - Dun Dun
Samcro won his only point-to-point for Colin Bowe before winning all three of the bumpers he contested for Gordon Elliott last season, following up victories at Punchestown and Navan with a 17-length win at Fairyhouse in April. Will be an exciting recruit to hurdling and has entries at Punchestown on Wednesday and Thursday.
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