Jessica Harrington has been a standing dish in the top ten in the Irish National Hunt trainer’s table for well over a decade now.
While she will forever be associated with the legendary two-mile chaser Moscow Flyer, Harrington has had a string of Grade 1 winners through her hands including the likes of Macs Joy, Cork All Star and Jezki.
Not content with winning Grade 1 races over jumps, in recent years Harrington has very much become known as a dual-purpose trainer, with her joining the prestigious Group 1 club when saddling Pathfork to win the National Stakes at the Curragh in 2010.
However, Harrington is still very much a major force in the National Hunt game and with a fine selection of horses to go to war with, she is hopeful of having another season to remember and was good enough to give Kevin Blake of attheraces.com the lowdown on her hopefuls for the Christmas period.
DON'T TOUCH IT
A 148-rated hurdler, he won a Grade 1 novice hurdle last season and made an encouraging seasonal and chasing debut when third to Bellshill at Gowran Park in November.
“I was delighted with his first run over fences at Gowran Park. While we couldn’t see much through the fog, Mark Walsh was very happy with his jumping. It was his first run of the season and he will come on a good bit from it. He’s going to run in the 2m 3f beginners chase at Leopardstown on Wednesday. It isn’t ideal, as I’d rather run him over two miles, but it’s been a while since he has run and I need to get him out. He seems to be in great form and hopefully he’ll run well.”
The winner of a bumper at Galway in October, she subsequently ran well to finish fourth in a Listed bumper at Navan in November.
“She’s most likely to run in a four-year-old hurdle at Leopardstown, as she wants decent ground and the nicest ground we are likely to get will be there. She’s jumping well, but she might need a bit of practice. Like a few of her siblings, she isn’t overly big.”
A 169-rated hurdler, he is an eight-time Grade 1 winner over smaller obstacles, winning the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2014, and both the Aintree Hurdle at the Grand National meeting and the World Series Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in 2015. Injury has kept him off the track since the latter success.
“All being well he will run in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown and the plan at the moment is to keep him at three miles going forward. He has had two racecourse gallops and based on what he’s shown I’d be hopeful that he retains his ability.”
NEW TO THIS TOWN
The winner of two of his three starts in bumpers last season, he has shaped with promise in both of his starts over hurdles this season.
“He’ll be entered in maiden hurdles over two-and-a-quarter and two-and-a-half miles at Leopardstown. I’ve been happy enough with his two runs over hurdles so far, but he’s very much a chaser in the making and anything he does over hurdles this season will be considered a bonus.”
A smart performer in bumpers and in novice hurdles last season, he made an impressive winning chasing debut at Navan in December.
“He will run in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown. You’d imagine that he’ll benefit from the step up to three miles, as all his family get three miles, including his full-brother. His jumping was very good bar the one mistake at Navan and he has had plenty of schooling since then and will have more before he runs. He seems to be in great order.”
A 150-rated chaser, he had a successful novice chase campaign for Henry de Bromhead last season, winning at Grade 2 level and being placed in four Grade 1 contests. He joined Harrington during the summer.
“He will run in the Paddy Power Cashcard Chase at Leopardstown. He’s been away a couple of times to work and has had a school on the racecourse. I’m happy enough with him. We are still getting to know him and we’ll learn as we go with him.”
A useful performer in bumpers last season, he has won both his starts over hurdles this season, including an impressive win in a novice hurdle at Punchestown in December.
“He’ll go for the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown. I was delighted with him at Punchestown. I don’t know how good that race was, but his other form is solid and I think he’s entitled to his place at Leopardstown. I’m hopeful that he will prove to be a better horse going left handed.”
A 142-rated hurdler, he had a solid novice hurdle campaign for Henry de Bromhead last season prior to joining Harrington during the summer.
“I’m not sure where he’ll run, we have him in three races at the moment. The ground will dictate where he goes, as he ideally wants nice ground. He appears to be jumping well so far and has been away to run in a schooling hurdle. I’m happy with him.”
An unraced gelding that realised €48,000 as a three-year-old, his dam won a Grade 2 hurdle for Harrington back in 2010.
“He’s a nice horse that came from the Derby Sale. He wasn’t far off a run last season, but he was just a bit backward. It is likely to be a learning curve for him, but hopefully he’ll run well. I trained his mother and if he’s half as good as she was, he’ll be fine!”