National Hunt racing returned to Cheltenham over the weekend and Irish trainer Gordon Elliott wasted little time getting on the score-sheet. He trained three winners at the two day meeting maintaining his impressive strike rate in England. Not only does he lead the Irish NH trainers table with 30 winners but he has also registered 27 winners in the UK this season with a 31% strike rate. He has achieved great success in a short career so far and is a trainer on a steep upward curve. In addition to having a great team of staff behind him, Elliott’s success this season has been aided in no uncertain terms by the riding skills of Paul Carberry. These skills were well advertised in Cheltenham on Friday and Saturday as he guided Final Day (IRE), Chicago Grey (IRE) and Russian War (IRE) to victory.
The Irish jumps scene continues to build pace and high class filly Voler La Vedette (IRE) made a very pleasing seasonal return to action in the Listed Grabel Mares Hurdle at Punchestown last Wednesday. The Colm Murphy trained 6yo oozed class throughout the race under Barry Geraghty and only had to be nudged out to account for Star Wood by three lengths. Voler La Vedette runs in the colours of her breeder Margaret Brophy and she will make a fine addition to her broodmare band if she chooses to hold onto her. As a multiple stakes winning daughter of Kings Theatre and a half sister to high class chaser Hennessy she would be a much sought after commodity for any aspiring national hunt breeder.
China Rock (IRE) has made a bright start to his season and he bagged his second big prize when accounting for a ring rusty Sizing Europe (IRE) in the Grade 3 Star best For racing Chase on Thursday at Punchestown. China Rock is by Champion sire Presenting and was sold as a foal in Goffs before being snapped up by Aiden Murphy at Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale for €60,000. Henry De Bromhead, trainer of Sizing Europe had more luck in the previous race the Grade 3 Buck House Novice Chase when Loosen My Load (IRE) maintained his 100% record over fences. The bold jumping son of Dushyantor has won seven times from ten starts and is a very exciting young chaser. His physique was evident as a 3yo as Paul Webber was prepared to pay €82,000 for him at the Derby Sale a day after China Rock went through the ring. He was bred by John Roche and races for Ann and Alan Potts who are great supporters of jump racing both in Ireland and the UK. Luska Lad (IRE) began his season with a bang when he landed the Grade 3 Ryans Cleaning Events Specialist Hurdle with the minimum of fuss. The son of Flemensfirth was also sold at the Derby Sale on the same day as Loosen My Load when his trainer John Hanlon picked him up for the bargain price of €24,000.