WITH up to 150 horses with point-to-point form from this season having been offered for sale during the week at the Goffs UK Spring Horse in Training sale, their boxes will not long be left empty as handlers from across the country have already begun the process of finding their replacements in anticipation of the 2023 four-year-old campaign.

That circle of reinvestment has already taken in the opening two store sales in Tattersalls and Doncaster with point-to-point handlers once again making up a significant element of the buyers’ bench.

One element of those opening two store sales has been the continued changing face of the National Hunt stallion division, something that has also been evident in this spring’s four-year-old maiden races.

Stallion’s reputation

Four-year-old maiden winners in particular are cherished by stallion owners for the boost that they provide to a stallion’s reputation. This spring it has been the former Irish Derby winner Soldier Of Fortune who has very much had his name in lights, having been responsible for more four-year-old winners this spring than any other stallion.

The Beeches Stud resident has sired six individual four-year-old winners in the pointing fields in 2022, a tally that has been headlined by the €200,000 seller Fortunate Soldier who won his maiden at Oldcastle last month for Liam Kenny.

His progeny have also proven to be particularly successful for Colin Bowe with the champion handler enjoying success with trio of Soldier Of Fortune geldings in Ballabawn, Royal Defender and Chapeau De Soleil.

Those six individual winners is one more than the Grange Stud-resident Walk In The Park whose list of winners has included the standout Barry The Butcher; there are a further three stallions that are responsible for four individual four-year-old winners in Affinisea, Doyen and Mahler.

Notably for Affinisea, these results have come from the Whytemount Stud resident’s first crop of four-year-old runners.

In all, 31 individual stallions have produced at least one four-year-old winner this spring, and notably within the list of four-year-old winners, the growing influence of French-bred horses has not been as strong this year as had been the case in some previous years.

Just eight of the 63 four-year-old maiden races that have been run since the beginning of February have been won by a horse who was carrying a French suffix.

Inchydoney to draw a large crowd

POINT-to-point action returns to Inchydoney Island tomorrow afternoon for the first time since 2019, with the picturesque venue sure to draw its customary large crowd following that three-year hiatus.

Chief amongst the crowd will be the committee’s guests of honour, the Dillon family, who are being celebrated as the breeders of last February’s Irish Gold Cup winner Conflated.

At the recent launch of the point-to-point, the committee made a presentation to Kevin Dillon, the former chief executive of the Irish Holstein Friesian Association, and his sons Barry and Terry, who will be in attendance at tomorrow’s fixture. This takes place on the farm of Leslie Beamish, before the family then offer their Walk In The Park half-sister to both the now six-time winner Conflated and the three-time Grade 1 runner-up Ordinary World at next month’s Derby Sale.

Muskerry additional fixture

The Cork and Waterford season is set to continue for six days beyond tomorrow’s fixture in Inchydoney with the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee granting the Muskerry Foxhounds an additional fixture at Dromahane on Saturday, May 28th.

That date became free when the South Union Foxhounds cancelled their two-day fixture at Farrangalway in Kinsale following a dispute between the committee and the INHSC.

Aside from the obvious disappointment that emanates from the cancellation of the fixture which has already been discussed, Kinsale is the latest two-day fixture to have dropped off the calendar this year following Durrow and Necarne.

Prior to the Covid years, up to six two-day fixtures took place each season, a number that will drop to just three this season, and although small in number, the fixtures do play a role in providing a variety of race options, particularly for older horses, that one-day fixtures, where committees are seeking to maximise their entry revenue, cannot. The need to programme 12 different races for a two-day fixture does create additional opportunities for these older horses to run in their own level.

This is evident at this weekend’s two-day fixture at Ballingarry which features a seven-year-old and upwards maiden on tomorrow’s card, one of just three such races programmed this season that provides an opportunity for the older maiden horses where they do not have to run against six-year-olds.

Its popularity is evident in the 28 entries it received leaving it as the only race at either of tomorrow’s two fixtures to receive an entry of 20 or more horses.

Awards diary date

THE point-to-point awards are back!

After an enforced two-year break, the awards will be presented in the Dunboyne Castle Hotel, Co Meath, on Saturday, June 18th.

The date is later than usual but there is no racing the following day and the weekend leads into the Derby Sale at nearby Tattersalls Ireland.

Tickets are priced at €65 and can be booked now via the ihrb.ie website.