Racing Post

Gunnery Officer takes care of valuable prize

Eoghain Ward

The second running of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee-backed winners’ final was at the centre of last weekend’s action on the Bree Foxhounds card in Monksgrange.

Established in an effort to encourage older horses to remain within the point-to-point sphere, the race was confined to horses aged six or older who had not won a race prior to the start of the current campaign but had since then finished in the first four placings at least once.

In fact all six horses that faced the starter at the Wexford venue had at least one victory to their name, including Is A Real Champ, who is one of six horses on the four-winner mark for the season.

Sean Doyle’s eight-year-old was unable to add to his tally as favourite for this valuable contest and could manage only fifth to Gunnery Officer.

Coincidentally, there was a strong connection between Gunnery Officer’s success and the INHSC who supported the race to the tune of boosting its prize fund to €5,000.

The Don Forster-owned sixyear-old was bred by INHSC member Marianne Onions out of the Old Vic mare Blackthorne Winter, who had carried her colours to finish second in a Durrow mares’ maiden 13 years ago. Gunnery Officer is also by the late stallion Califet, who was based at the Boardsmill Stud of another INHSC member in William Flood.

Champion conditionals title may go to the wire

Honeysuckle, Sir Gerhard, American Mike and Minella Cocooner are just four of the former Irish point-to-pointers in Grade 1 action at the Punchestown festival this week and it is not just the equine stars of the pointing fields who are set to make headlines.

With Paul Townend and Willie Mullins having wrapped up the champion jockey and trainer prizes, one of the endof-season titles which looks set to run to the wire on Saturday is for the champion conditional jockey crown.

The trio of jockeys involved Jack Foley, Jordan Gainford and Shane Fitzgerald - had been plying their trade in point-to-points until recently when they elected to make the switch to the professional ranks after the arrival of Covid-19.

Their impact in that division has been notable and irrespective of who comes out on top on Saturday the trio look assured of a big future. They are further examples of the calibre that can be seen each week in a sport that is a key nursery for future riding talent.

Kinsale cancellation is a blow to locals

It has been confirmed that the two-day Kinsale meeting, which was scheduled for May 28 and 29, has been cancelled for operational reasons.

The South Foxhounds fixture has been a mainstay of the June bank holiday weekend, providing a high-profile finale for the season and attracting a large holiday crowd from the popular tourist town to the track at Farrangalway. Such has been the popularity of the fixture up to the intervention of Covid-19 it had featured a concert after racing in 2019 mirroring the big festival fixtures on the racecourse.

The cancellation of two of the three two-day fixtures in the month of May following the previously confirmed loss of Necarne for this year, looks set to lead to a low-key final month of action with just nine fixtures remaining after this week’s bank holiday programme.





Racing Post