THE death of Juddmonte behemoth Prince Khalid Abdulla, the acquittal of world-class jockey Colm O’Donoghue and the suspension of point to points with immediate effect – these are just some of the news stories to break in the racing world over the past week.
Abdulla leaves behind a legacy few would dare to dream of emulating. His world-famous colours were respected across the globe, his breeding operation unmatched by any on and off the track while names like Frankel, Arrogate, Oasis Dream, Midday, Enable and Kingman will no doubt ensure the success of his dynasty for generations to come.
The Saudi Prince had the foresight to identify future talent both in his horses and his backroom team, not to mention earmarking those who would nurture and develop Juddmonte’s coveted bloodlines. His vision is one from which we can all learn and his sportsmanship with horses such as Frankel and Enable will forever be admired by those who watched in awe.
Ten from 10 in his career to date - three from three over fences. Envoi Allen is already evens-favourite for the Marsh Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and this looks like the ideal opportunity to gain more chasing experience without getting a hard race at his local track.
Of course, he’s not exactly a betting prospect but this horse is special - a horse to savor and considering this will be his first run since the passing of his owner David Thompson, Envoi Allen will be continuing the legacy of another racing giant who will be forever associated as a legendary owner and breeder.
Gordon Elliott saddle’s another classy sort on the same card in the shape of Magic Tricks in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle. A full-brother to Elliott’s Abacadabras, Magic Tricks was an easy winner of his maiden hurdle at Navan in early December and having side-stepped the Christmas congestion, this could prove the perfect next step for his career considering a number of the initial entries opted to run in the Grade 1 novice at Naas on Wednesday.
Tomorrow’s card at Fairyhouse features the illustrious Dan & Joan Moore Handicap Chase which appears to be a typically competitive renewal. My eye is drawn to Willie Mullins’ Fan De Blues who is likely to have his preferred attritional conditions.
Equipped with Paul Townend, an attractive lightweight combined with the all-conquering form of the yard, these sound like all the ingredients necessary for such a race. That said, he hasn’t won a race since November 2019!
His biggest challenger is likely to be Jessica Harrington’s Impact Factor who was mightily impressive over course and distance on his last run but he must concede plenty of weight on very tough ground so if there is value lurking in this race, I think it could be with Fan De Blues.
Last weekend may have succumbed to freezing winter weather resulting in a dull few days devoid of Irish racing but we were treated to a mid-week special thanks to Naas rescheduling their Sunday card on Wednesday, providing Bob Olinger with the opportunity to showcase his talents in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle.
A ‘point’ winner for Pat Doyle and impressive on his only bumper start last season, Rachael Blackmore oozed confidence aboard the son of Sholokhov who not only provided his trainer Henry de Bromhead with his third Grade 1 of the season but he was also providing his Clonmel owners Brian and Carmel Acheson with their maiden top-level success.
Under the guise of Robcour, the Acheson’s have invested heavily in national hunt horses and with the wise guidance of Mags O’Toole, they have already built up and impressive repertoire of equine talent. Aspire Tower, Impact Factor, Gentlemansgame and Bob Olinger are just some of the names that will keep the Acheson family intrigued over the coming seasons and one can only imagine the best is yet to come.
On the same Naas card, Energumene established himself as a genuine threat to Shishkin in the Arkle Chase bracket by making all the running to beat Captain Guiness in a novice chase. This horse has a no-nonsense attitude and a brilliant jumping technique, so Mr. Henderson won’t have it all his own way on the Tuesday of Cheltenham!