DELVINO ANOTHER PROMISING MARE FOR MCLOUGHLIN AND CONWAY
3rd - 32Red Handicap (London Mile Qualifier), Wednesday 12th February
Prior to this London Mile series qualifier, it seemed that Divine Messenger would be the likely front runner but that went out the window after he was awkwardly away from the stalls. As a result, he raced keenly at the back of the field off a slow early pace, with the pace only quickening after Sea Fox was challenged for the lead by Harbour Breeze at the end of the back straight.
Divine Messenger turned into the straight in a share of last place before making significant headway to be a in a share of second place one furlong out but the effort of making such a move into a slow pace took its toll and he dropped back into third at the finish.
Given how badly positioned he was following the slow start, this was a good effort by Divine Messenger and as long as the slow start was a one-off, he looks to have more to offer on the all-weather.
8th - Irishinjuredjockeys.com Handicap, Friday 14th February
Ustinov dropped from a rating of 82 to 64 last year after joining Ann Marie O’Shea but he caught the eye at the Curragh on his penultimate start of the year and he did so once again on his first run of this campaign at Dundalk.
Wearing a tongue tie for the first time, he was slowest away and was allowed to find his stride, turning into the straight in a share of second last place. Nudged along 1½ furlongs out, he made a bit of headway towards the far side but couldn’t make any further ground last on and finished eight, beaten 6¾ lengths.
This trip was always likely to be too sharp for Ustinov but he shaped encouragingly without being given an unnecessarily hard time once his chance had gone and once stepped back up to a more suitable distance, he could break the trainer’s losing sequence which stretches back to May 2016.
2nd - Thames Materials Novices’ Hurdle, Saturday 15th February
Pipesmoker shaped promisingly on his hurdles debut at Cheltenham in December and after a two-month absence he returned with another good run at Ascot in awful conditions. Held up at the back of the four-runner field, his jumping wasn’t quite as slick as his rivals and a slight error at 4 out put him a few lengths off the back of the field.
He travelled well going to 3 out but he made another mistake there and was pushed along just before turning into the straight. He ran on well into second place between the last two hurdles but couldn’t get close to Sporting John after the last.
Pipesmoker still looked green and the ground was likely softer than ideal for him so this was an encouraging run against high quality opposition and he’s likely to develop into a very good chaser in the long term.
GARO DE JUILLEY
7th - Give The Gift Of Ascot Annual Membership Handicap Hurdle, Saturday 15th February
Garo De Juilley’s jumping has let him down over fences and he was switched back to hurdles at Ascot. Held up, he jumped slowly and out to the left at the first two hurdles. He started to make some headway after turning out of Swinley Bottom and was just behind the leading group after 3 out.
Pushed along just before turning into the straight, he was in with a chance of being placed when he landed awkwardly at 2 out and he was slow at the last, plugging on after to finish seventh. The ever-softening ground was against him and the right-handed track wouldn’t have been suitable as he had shown a tendency to jump out to the left in previous runs on right-handed tracks and he did so again at Ascot.
Garo De Juilley has always been a tricky ride but when he gets back on better ground on a left-handed track, he will have a chance to show his best.
Fell - Kevin Brady Car Sales Mares Handicap Hurdle, Sunday 16th February
Regina Dracones hadn’t show much in five maiden hurdles but she was running far better on her handicap debut at Navan until falling at 2 out. Always handy from the off on the inside, she raced enthusiastically and went a couple of lengths clear leaving the back straight. She had extended her advantage slightly at 3 out and came under strong pressure after, as she stayed on the inside while the challengers raced very wide.
She was still responding well when she stuttered into 2 out, landed steeply and fell. This was an encouraging handicap debut off a lowly mark by Regina Dracones in what looked a decent race for the level and, as long as the fall has no lasting impact, she can pick up a race in the near future.
2nd - Flower Hill (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race, Sunday 16th February
All of the talk prior to the bumper at Navan focused on £330,000 purchase Ballyadam, who was having his first start for Gordon Elliott having won a point to point on debut, but he could only finish third behind Julies Stowaway and the newcomer, Delvino, who showed plenty of promise for the future.
Initially she set off just behind the leaders but was gradually eased back to be a little further back than mid division with a circuit to go. She raced a bit keenly at times going down the back straight and had to be restrained to stay towards the rear. She gradually eased closer to the leaders going across the top of the course and then moved into a slight lead turning into the straight, still on the bridle.
That advantage was extended after going through the wings of 3 out, still travelling smoothly, before she started to be nudged along going through the wings of 2 out. Delvino looked a bit green and then came under stronger pressure as Julies Stowaway came back to challenge.
Delvino kept battling but was outstayed on the climb to the line by Julies Stowaway and held off Ballyadam’s challenge to finish second. This was a highly promising debut from Delvino, who looks a chaser of the future, and she has a bright future.