THE 2020 autumn point-to-point season commenced with the Ormond Foxhounds meeting at Ballingarry in north Co Tipperary on September 19th.
With the 2019/20 campaign halted in mid-March, there were a plethora of horses that didn’t get to run last season and this ensured that competition has been intense ‘between the flags’ this autumn.
This has been borne out by the number of runners. At the first Cork and Waterford fixture at Dromahane on October 11th, there were 65 runners.
The Waterford Foxhounds meeting at Curraghmore on October 31st attracted 73 participants whilst there were 85 runners at Ballindenisk on November 29th.
There were even more runners at the Lisronagh meeting in Co Tipperary on November 7th with 90 contestants going to post on the eight-race card.
With horses of the calibre of the unbeaten Grade 1 winning pair of Envoi Allen and Honeysuckle originating from the hunt racing sphere in recent times, demand for potential top-drawer point-to-pointers has been largely unaffected in these Covid-19 times.
This has been clearly illustrated at some of the recent sales.
Goffs UK hosted two outstanding sales, mainly consisting of four and five-year-old point-to-pointers, over the past couple of months at Yorton Farm in Wales.
The first Yorton sale took place on November 12th and the four-year-old Jonbon became the most expensive point-to-pointer ever sold at public auction when bought by JP McManus for a staggering £570, 000 stg.
The newcomer Jonbon was sent out by Ellemarie Holden to win a four-year-old geldings’ maiden with sublime ease under Derek O’Connor at Dromahane just four days before the sale.
A son of Walk In The Park, Jonbon is an own-brother to Willie Mullins’ multiple Grade 1 winner Douvan and he was purchased for €140, 000 by Miss Holden’s father Paul at the 2019 Derby sale. Jonbon will now be trained Nicky Henderson.
At the pre-Christmas Yorton sale on December 17th, Jonbon’s selling price was matched when bloodstock agent Tom Malone, who originally hails from Tullamore, paid £570, 000 stg on Gordon Elliot’s behalf for the four-year-old Classic Getaway.
A son of Getaway, the Donnchadh Doyle-trained Classic Getaway really impressed by leading from four out with Rob James to win a Borris House maiden on his debut on November 29th.
It was a relatively unknown new owner in Britain, Anthony Barney that was underbidder for both Jonbon and Classic Getaway. Barney, the proprietor of a country park in Derbyshire, is aligned to the Leicestershire stable of Laura Morgan. Miss Morgan, who previously worked with Jonjo O’Neill, nonetheless bought Warren Ewing’s Necarne four-year-old maiden winner Bold Endeavour on Barney’s behalf for £190, 000 stg at the November Yorton sale.
On this side of the Irish Sea, there are likewise a couple of owners that have already invested in point-to-pointers over the past few months. Noel and Valerie Moran, who reside in Co Meath, are patrons of the Gordon Elliot stable and they purchased Ginto for €470, 000 at the Tattersalls Ireland online sale at Fairyhouse in November. Ginto was trained by Elliot for the Crocodile Pockets Syndicate when sluicing home on his debut in a competitive Tattersalls four-year-old maiden in late October.
At that same Fairyhouse sale, bloodstock agent Mags O’Toole paid €250, 000 for the four-year-old grey Gentlemansgame. The British-bred Gentlemansgame created a hugely-favourable impression by winning a Curraghmore maiden on his debut for Donnchadh Doyle in late October.
Gentlemansgame is now trained by ‘Mouse’ Morris for Robcour, who also own Henry de Bromhead’s Grade 1 placed chaser Chris’s Dream, and he hardly broke sweat to win a Cork maiden hurdle on his track debut on January 2nd.
De Bromhead, who bought both Honeysuckle and Minella from the point-to-point fields, purchased Grady Hollow on behalf of Robcour shortly after the son of Beat Hollow won a Castletown-Geoghegan four-year-old maiden for Colin Bowe in October. Grady Hollow made an excellent start to his racetrack career in a Limerick bumper on December 30th as he was only headed in the closing stages when beaten three parts of a length into second by the more-experienced Blazing Khal.
Grady Hollow is one to definitely keep an eye on and so too is Tango Tara. An eyefilling son of Kayf Tara, Tango Tara hinted that he holds probable black-type aspirations by winning a Ballindenisk four-year-old maiden at the first time of asking for Wexford handler Ellen Doyle in November. Tango Tara was subsequently well bought for €120, 000 stg by Tom Malone for Paul Nicholls at the December Yorton sale.
The Lisgoold meeting at Ballindenisk has been rescheduled for next Saturday – January 9th.