The Kirkistown point to point fixture last weekend – the finale of the autumn season despite very limited runners produced good racing and notable horses.
The Colin McBratney trained, Marito lived up to pre-race hype on his points debut with the ex Willie Mullins trained horse producing a very impressive victory in the feature when beating Oscar Barton – winner of his last four efforts in open company.
The winner travelled easily and improved on the final circuit to challenge on the run to the last fence and quickened decisively on the run in to easily beat Oscar Barton – the turn of foot when asked by rider, Noel McParlan a very notable asset to the winner.
The Crossgar trainer said: “He’s a very, very good horse. Unfortunately he’s not qualified for hunterchases or the Cheltenham Festival Foxhunters as the hunterchases have not yet been aligned with the new rules in point to points [The local trainer sent out Carsonstown Boy to finish runner-up in the Foxhunters this year].
“It looks like he will go back to the course proper – I’ll consider a conditions chase at Thurles in the New Year – He’ll not run again this year. It’s great to have a horse of his class in the yard.”
Newry rider and former Northern Region Champion, Noel Mc Parlan enjoyed a good day with a treble. Fair Ethel trained at Banbridge by Jerry Cosgrave made a winning points debut in the mares maiden and was benefiting from the experience of two runs in bumpers to warrant support to favouritism [5/2 – evens ] and looks capable to tackling suitable winners company.
The hat trick was completed when the rider partnered his father/trainer, Sean’s Mr Bolt in the finale with four starting and two exiting the penultimate fence to allow the winner to canter home to a twelve length victory.
Despite just four runners in the opening four year old maiden the contest produced a close finish with Minmore Lodge partnered by Barry O’Neill, catching the front running Wishmoor in the closing stages and the last named should be in the winners enclosure in the spring.
Irish Champion rider, Derek O’Connor had been due to partner Illusion Of Time in the winners contest, however when the champion elected to go to the Roscommon meeting rather than the local fixture, trainer/rider, Marshall Watson took the mount on his own runner and gave the horse a ride that would have done justice to the Irish Champion – waiting last prior to improving on the final circuit and as the trio jumped the last in unison the Armagh rider drove the winner into the lead close home.
The winning trainer/rider said: “I’m delighted for Leigh [Watson] – I will probably aim at the maiden hunterchase at Limerick over Christmas.”
The Stuart Crawford trained, General Principle appears another one for the note book after an eye catching debut success in the geldings maiden with the Larne trainer currently in form having sent out the winner of the Musselburgh bumper - I’m Too Generous the previous evening at the Scottish venue.
The winner is owned by former trainer and Larne based car dealer, Roy Wilson while the runner-up, Bartons Brae is another to note appearing capable of maiden success when the spring season gets underway.
The Larne trainer said: “He’s a very straight forward and talented horse. He did what I expected today. He’ll go to the Brightwells Sales and will make up into a very nice chaser in time.”
Away Bookmaker Franco Hughes again supported the fixture including sponsoring the Best Turned Out in each race.