He had spent the previous afternoon at the Munster National meeting at Limerick and to say it had lit a fire under him would be an understatement.
At work on Monday, he was still buzzing. It wasn’t the National, however, that had fired his imagination, but rather the performance of Sub Lieutenant in a conditions chase. Listening to him talking told you exactly why the relatively new concept of “champions’ weekend’’ on the flat will never be able to compete with the best of what’s on offer with National Hunt racing.
We can rebuild the Curragh to our heart’s content and those of us who love the flat game promote it all we went, but for the majority of Irish racing fans nothing gets the adrenaline pumping quite like an old fashioned chaser doing what nature intended and that’s flowing majestically across a series of fences.
Flat racing, with all its beauty and speed, simply does not have the capacity to get punters exercised in the way that Sub Lieutenant had my friend still rocking and rolling the following day.
Sub Lieutenant is trained by Henry de Bromhead, who is probably just about settling down now, following a lively few weeks.
He initially suffered a real body blow, after Alan and Ann Potts removed their horses from him, but was then a lucky recipient when Gigginstown shocked the racing world and parted company with Willie Mullins. Sub Lieutenant was, however, a Gigginstown horse that had arrived earlier from Sandra Hughes. Now whatever you think about the morality of taking horses off Hughes, doing her best to keep the show on the road after the death of her father, Dessie, that has nothing to do with de Bromhead.
His only function is to do the best he can for the new arrivals and watching Sub Lieutenant in action, this was first outing for de Bromhead, it is easy to understand why Gigginstown continue to turn to him.
Sub Lieutenant produced an exhilarating display of jumping and raw power to score unextended by 13 lengths and left you feeling the sooner you saw him in action again the better. My pal was blown away, not just by the horse’s jumping, but also by the physical specimen he viewed in the flesh, and says he is going to follow Sub Lieutenant off the proverbial cliff.
I advised caution, on the basis this was a modest enough contest, but he was having none of it and so we eagerly await developments.
De Bromhead’s ability to get chasers to jump brilliantly holds huge attraction for prospective owners. Sub Lieutenant isn’t the only recent evidence of that, there is also Marinero, Ordinary World and others. Gigginstown’s Marinero used to be trained by Tony Martin and has certainly flourished since coming to de Bromhead.
He has already won over flights and fences for him, but it was his performance in defeat at Galway on Monday that told you all that’s needed when it comes to de Bromhead. Like Sub Lieutenant, he has become a magnificent jumper of fences and that vital ingredient almost saw him beat Monksland, despite being 13lbs wrong at the weights.
At Fairyhouse last Saturday, Ordinary World, who has always been with de Bromhead and was ordinary over hurdles, gave a superb display of jumping to win a beginners chase at the first time of asking.
At Punchestown on Wednesday the ex-Paul Nicholls-trained Some Plan, having a first outing over fences and for de Bromhead, produced an accomplished round of jumping to easily beat his only rival. And then at Punchestown on Thursday a pair of de Bromhead inmates, Three Stars and Sadler’s Risk, jumped beautifully on their way to winning the two Grade 3 chases on the card.
Bolger has not had a good year with his juveniles, but can always be relied on to pull at least one rabbit out of the hat and in Holistic Approach may have unearthed another nugget.
There was reasonably good word for the son of New Approach in a maiden at the Curragh last Sunday and he came through his first test with flying colours.
Getting carried away with a horse who has just won a maiden is pointless, but it was the way Holistic Approach did it that was impressive. Basically, he missed the break and, over six furlongs and against 15 opponents, his chance was surely gone. But Kevin Manning gradually worked him into the contest and, without being subjected to a hard time of it, Holistic Approach was nicely on top close home. I just felt it was a lovely sort of effort and he is at least worth of plenty of consideration going forward.
The third caught the eye as well, Aidan O’Brien’s first-timer, Spirit Of Valor, but not as much as another Ballydoyle newcomer, Sir john Lavery, at the Curragh on Monday. That particular heat went to Jessica Harrington’s well backed Grandee, with O’Brien responsible for four of the 14 runners.
Starting the outsider of the quartet, at 16-1, the Galileo colt was not knocked about at all, but noted doing all his best work at the end of the nine furlongs to claim third place.
the Curragh last Sunday, a punter had strong word for the Dermot Weld-trained Queen Anne’s Lace in a Listed race for fillies. He behaved accordingly and had a bundle on it.
She came there cantering in the straight, apparently sure to score, but didn’t find anything like as much as promised and was beaten into third behind Calare and Bound.
When Calare was challenging Queen Anne’s Lace, she turned her head towards the favourite, shaping as if she was going to bite her.
Calare’s antics weren’t lost on our intrepid punter, who was subsequently heard to remark, “it’s a pity she didn’t bite Weld.’’
Knowing DK possesses a decent sense of humour, I’d say he’d get a good laugh out of such delicious bitterness!