It was by no means the most high profile contest in Ireland last week, but in a three mile Grade 3 novice hurdle at Clonmel Chris’s Dream looked a horse of stellar potential.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained son of Mahler fetched £175,000 on the back of a maiden hurdle victory for Eugene O’Sullivan at Limerick in early December and he is a terrific purchase on the evidence of this debut for his new connections. Admittedly the Clonmel race fell apart somewhat, with the favourite Monkshood running no race whatsoever.
However, Chris’s Dream produced a performance of tremendous quality. He made nearly all the running and set a relentless tempo that saw him come home 64 lengths clear of his rivals. This effort bore all the hallmarks of a top stayer while it also marked out the winner as a major player for the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham.
The prospect of better ground there shouldn’t be a concern for the grandson of Galileo as there have been few more impressive displays in the novice hurdling ranks this season.
Looking beyond Cheltenham, Chris’s Dream has done enough to be considered one of the most exciting chasing prospects around.
Bellshill aces national trial
Understandably the focus of all the recent racecourse action revolves around Cheltenham but Bellshill posted a Grand National trial of real substance at Fairyhouse last weekend. The Willie Mullins inmate hadn’t run for 11 months but turned in a stylish and authoritative display to land the Grade Bobbyjo Chase.
It remains to be seen whether Bellshill will tackle the Aintree or Irish Grand National but indications in the aftermath of this success was that he could be Fairyhouse-bound.
If Bellshill does line up in the Easter Monday spectacular he will hold compelling claims of giving his trainer a first win in the race.
Furthermore, he could be a pivotal figure in the trainer’s championship as the BoyleSports Irish National – the richest race on the calendar – will be key in determining the outcome of the latest season long battle between Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott.
The significance of the National was certainly evident when the entries were unveiled last week with Elliott responsible for 30 runners while Mullins entered 17.
Another interesting contest from Fairyhouse was the bumper which went to Sometime Soon, an expensive purchase from the point-to-point field for the Gordon Elliott-Gigginstown axis.
This Shantou gelding turned in a taking display to win nicely and, unlike many bumpers run so far this year, this looked a race with strength in depth.
In terms of the remainder of this season and as far ahead as next winter this could well turn out to be a bumper of substance and the various participants will be worth keeping an eye on whatever path they take.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained, Chris’s Dream won by 64 lengths at Clonmel on Sunday.
Grand National battle
The Irish National will be a key race in determining the outcome of the trainer’s title. Gordon Elliott has entered 30 horses, while Willie Mullins has entered 17.