Christmas Festival – Day 2
Gordon Elliott is responsible for two of the seven declared runners in the Lyons of Limerick Jaguar Land Rover Novice Hurdle (1.29), the feature race on Tuesday, the second day of the Limerick’s four-day Christmas Festival.
Jungle Prose has been a revelation this season so far. Fourth in a handicap hurdle at Gowran Park in September off a handicap rating of 85 on her first run for Gordon Elliott, she then went on a roll, winning at Thurles, Down Royal, Punchestown and last time at Navan, and rising 52lb in the ratings to a handicap mark of 137.
Her rate of improvement in less than three months has been seriously impressive, and there is no real sign of it reaching a plateau yet. When she won last time at Navan, she left the impression that she had more in hand than the one-and-a-half-length winning margin, and there is every chance that she can improve again.
The mount of Denis O’Regan, she will receive 7lb from her stable companion Favori De Champdou. The Gigginstown House horse is rated 7lb inferior to her, but he battled on well to get the better of Harry Des Ongrais in a novices’ hurdle at Thurles last month, with the pair of them finishing well clear of their rivals.
That was just the Saddler Maker gelding’s third run over hurdles. Winner of a bumper at Thurles in February 2020, he has had a couple of spells on the sidelines, but he is obviously a talented horse who could make up for lost time now.
Harry Des Ongrais doesn’t have much to find with Favori De Champdou on their running at Thurles. Winner of his only point-to-point, Henry de Bromhead’s horse ran out an impressive winner of his maiden hurdle at Wexford at the end of October. His run at Thurles was a nice step forward from that, and he should be able to continue his progression now.
Letsbeclearaboutit is another interesting contender. Gavin Cromwell’s horse kept good company in bumpers two seasons ago, he beat Enniskerry twice, then finished second to Sir Gerhard at Navan and he finished second to Kilcruit at Leopardstown before winning at Fairyhouse on his final run that season.
He missed all of last season, but he shaped encouragingly on his debut this term in finishing second to American Mike in a maiden hurdle at Down Royal in November, and he stepped forward from that in finishing fourth behind the progressive Hiddenvalley Lake in a Grade 3 contest at Cork two weeks ago. He should be able to continue his progression now over hurdles, and he is a live contender in a contest that boasts a roll of honour which includes Faugheen, Martello Tower, Penhill, Fury Road and Farouk D’Alene.
Jody Ted has to shoulder a 4lb penalty in the opening Cargill Neomilk Calf Milk Replacer Rated Novice Chase (12.19), but he could be up to the task. A dual winner over hurdles, Eoin Griffin’s horse was still in front and travelling well at Cork on his chasing debut last month when he made a mistake at the second last fence and unseated his rider.
He made amends for that last time at Clonmel however, when he ran out an impressive winner of his beginners’ chase. Rated 114 over hurdles, he has the potential to go a fair bit higher than that over fences.
Winner of her maiden hurdle at Punchestown last January, the Gavin Cromwell-trained Limerick Lace has run just once over fences, she ran an encouraging race in finishing fifth behind Hollow Games in a beginners’ chase at Navan last month. A well-related mare, a home-bred half-sister to Spades Are Trumps, Ilikedwayurthinkin, Inothewayurthinkin and Walk Me Home, all winners for JP McManus and Gavin Cromwell, Limerick Lace is only five, so she has plenty of potential for progression over fences.
Henry de Bromhead’s horse Kamus and the Gordon Elliott-trained Irish Blaze are other contenders in what should be an interesting contest with which to open proceedings.
Shecouldbeanything is a contender for the Goggin Buckley Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (2.04). Winner of her only point-to-point, Gordon Elliott’s mare ran out an impressive winner of a mares’ bumper at Limerick last month, and she could be a classy recruit to hurdles.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained Kudasheva, also a point-to-point winner, shaped encouragingly in finishing third behind Grangeclare West on her hurdling debut at Navan on Troytown Chase day last month, and she should progress from that, while Knockanard Lady didn’t have a lot of luck in-running when she finished a close-up second behind Gaoth Chuil at Tramore last time. Winner of her bumper at Punchestown on her racecourse debut last January, and second now in both her hurdle races, she should be winning her maiden hurdle soon.
The day concludes with the Whitebox Property Group INH Flat Race (3.49), a race that was won by subsequent dual Grade 2 winner Blazing Khal in 2020, and a race in which the Willie Mullins-trained Largy Hill, fifth last April in a Cork bumper that is working out well, could be a leading player.