Two young Irish bred horses have made a serious impact as Novice Hurdlers in the UK in the last few weeks. Backspin (IRE) won the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury on December 29th for the Jackdaws Castle team of McCoy, McManus & O’Neill. On only his second run over hurdles the son of Flemensfirth strode eight lengths clear of Court In Motion and Al Ferof. The winning trainer was chuffed with the performance, commenting; “We have always liked him even though he does not show a lot at home. This was a big step up from Bangor and we will hopefully get another race into him before Cheltenham for experience sake”. Backspin won a bumper first time out at the Punchestown Festival last year when trained by Mags Mullins, beating Nicene Creed and it did not take long for the very promising 6yo to find a new home. He was bred by Brittas House Stud and was sold twice in Tattersalls Ireland, latterly to his former trainer Mags Mullins at the 2008 Derby Sale for €34,000.
Minella Class (IRE) is another former Irish Bumper winner who looks destined for great things following his win in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday. Trained by Nicky Henderson, the son of the all–conquering Oscar showed a nice blend of speed and stamina in the heavy ground to see off Megastar and continue his progression towards Cheltenham. Minella Class failed to score in three runs in Irish point to points but showed definite potential to finish second to the aforementioned Al Ferof in a 4yo maiden in Athlacca. Trained by Trevor Horgan he went on to win a Bumper in Naas before being sold to current connections. He was bred by Conna Stud which is owned by Jimmy Mangan, trainer of Grand National hero Montys Pass. It was the second big race winner bred by Mangan in a week, following the success of Psycho (IRE) in the Listed Phil Sweeny Memorial Cup at Thurles last Thursday. Mangan sold Minella Class as a foal in Tattersalls Ireland for €28,000 to John Nallen, who names the majority of his horses using the ‘Minella’ prefix. Nallen owns the Minella Hotel in Clonmel, a popular establishment for many racing enthusiasts.