Irish point to points are well recognised as a rich source for future racecourse talent but rarely has a horse made the transition from point to point field to racecourse as impressively as Back In Focus (IRE). Exactly a month before his UK debut on Saturday he ran in a 6yo maiden at Kilfeacle in Tipperary on January 11th which he won impressively by 12 lengths. Subsequently sold out of John Costello’s yard to Graham Wylie and Howard Johnson, he was pitched in at the deep end in the Grade 2 Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle at Haydock. He took the lead off previous Grade 2 winner Court In Motion (IRE) between the last two flights and galloped clear to win easily by six lengths. It was an awesome performance from a young inexperienced horse and he has a bright future. Back In Focus is certainly bred to have an engine. Bred by Mrs A Connolly, he is by Bob Back out of the high class race-mare Dun Belle, herself a Grade 3 winner over fences and placed second in the Grade 1 Hennessy Gold Cup. Back in Focus is the fourth and best winner produced by the mare who is by stamina influence Over The River.
Back In Focus was not the only ‘Irish pointer’ to strut his stuff at Haydock on Saturday. Cross Kennon (IRE) lead home an Irish bred 1-2 when beating Bensalem (IRE) in the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle for trainer Jennie Candlish. The 7yo is teak tough and was landing his 8th win from 18 starts prompting his trainer to comment; “I am chuffed to bits, he keeps finding more and he has such a huge heart.” He began his racing career at Wilson Dennison’s academy in Northern Ireland where he was trained by Colin McKeever to win a 4yo maiden at Taylorstown. Cross Kennon was bred by Cora Cronin and is a first Graded winner for his sire Craigsteel who stands at Garryrichard Stud in Wexford.
At Ascot Master Of The Hall (IRE) completed a Grade 2 treble for graduates of Irish point to points when winning the Reynoldstown Chase for the unstoppable team of Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson. He won a 4yo Maiden at Dromahane for Pat Doyle and he has been a model of consistency for current connections, winning five from eight starts. Master Of The Hall, bred by Sweetmans bloodstock was originally bought as a foal in Tattersalls Ireland by Highflyer Bloodstock for €23,000. Interestingly Irelands champion point to point rider Derek O’Connor rode each of the highlighted horses above to their point to point victory.