THE penultimate fixture of the 2022/23 northern point-to-point season got underway on Monday at Toomebridge with an array of classy performances on show for the bumper crowd on the grounds of the Higgins family.

The star attraction of the day came in the shape of the eight-year-old Bold Enough (4/7 – 1/2 favourite) who added to his extraordinary season by making this his seventh open victory of the year in bloodless fashion.

The Ray Nicholas-owned gelding took up the running from the fifth last from the long-time leader Lord Schnitzel and soon galloped into a commanding advantage, with the race quickly put to bed from the fourth last, with those behind at work, and with the advantage growing from fence-to-fence.

This was perhaps the son of Jeremy’s most impressive performance to date, as 22 lengths was the winning margin back to the recent hunter chase winner Lord Schnitzel.

“We will find an open for him next weekend. He will be very tough to beat in that same form, and he has been some horse for us. Another fantastic training performance from David [Christie],” remarked Barry O’Neill.

Nine runners went to post for the four-year-old maiden which saw handler Noel Kelly send out his second maiden winner in two consecutive meetings as Jorah D’Alma (11/2 - 9/2) produced a visually impressive performance to strike under an ultra-confident Oran McGill ride.

The son of Spanish Moon was prominently ridden throughout at the head of affairs and fenced like a very smart horse in the process.

The French bred bay picked up very stylishly after the second last and showed a taking turn of foot before the last to kick into a handy advantage, sprinting to the final obstacle and winning with more than the winning margin of two and a half lengths suggested at the line from a gallant Patriotik back in second.

“He had been showing plenty at home, he jumps very well, he is a serious lepper, and we fancied him as he worked well alongside the horse that won in Moira last week [I Can Only Imagine],” said Kelly of the gelding, who sported the silks of his wife Shauna.

Donnchadh Doyle sent out his twenty fourth winner of the season as Davidoc (3/1 - 7/2) dominated in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.

The Monbeg Syndicate-owned gelding brought some useful form into the race, having placed previously in a strong renewal earlier in the year at Monksgrange before unseating his same rider Rob James when set for a place at Moira last week.

The son of Davidoff set a strong pace from the onset and found several of his rivals unable to feature from the fifth last. His lead quickly grew under a motionless James and the pair were some distance clear of the trailing field at the second last.

With a slick jump at the last, and James easing the gelding on the run-in, 19 lengths was the distance back to second Solly Atwell, in a race which only saw three of the 11 runners complete.

“It was a lovely performance, he did it well there. His form was good, he had finished placed and then unseated me when going to be third in a good race at Moira and he was well capable of doing that,” said James.

Imperial strikes impressively

THE rich vein of form of the Stuart Crawford stable continued as he sent out Imperial Saint (9/2 - 4/1) to strike on his third career start in the adjacent maiden in commanding fashion.

The son of Saint Des Saints brought smart form as he looked unlucky on his debut at Farmacaffley when hampered approaching the last, to finish a close third to the useful Cadoudal Saint.

The French-bred made all the running here under a canny Ben Crawford ride and always looked the likely winner. He injected further pace from the fourth last, which saw his other rivals in trouble in behind. The Ben Halsell-owned gelding travelled ominously well into the straight and held a commanding lead at the last, with a pushed out 11 lengths the distance to the staying on Arkle Rua.

“He was probably a bit unfortunate on his debut, he was a bit green, and maybe we bounced him out a bit too quickly at Kirkistown after that big run the first day. He’s pencilled in for the Doncaster sale now,” said Stuart Crawford.

A race later saw Crawford’s brother Ross take the five-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden with the form selection in the event Time For Joy (7/2 - 9/4 favourite) obliging in a power-packed finish. The Peter Boyd-owned mare’s run at Kirkistown when second to Time Was looked the strongest form on offer.

The daughter of Yeats made her move from before three out into a clear second but faced a strong travelling and impeccably jumping Mahler’s Dream in front. The winner found plenty for Connor’s urgings coming to the last and held a slight advantage before being joined again on the run-in, just pulling out more under a strong ride to oblige by a neck from Mahler’s Dream, who looks a sure next time out winner.

O’Neil goes two out of two

BARRY O’Neill brought up a quick double on the day from his only two rides, as Tech Talk (6/1 - 8/1) stepped forward to take the finale, the older geldings’ maiden, putting O’Neill 12 winners clear in the northern riders’ table.

The P.E.I Newell-owned gelding was weak in the market given his form, including a second to Loggan Lady at Lingstown last March. The son of Doyen took up the running from the fourth last, and looked the winner, always travelling with plenty of zest. He quickened approaching the last and had a three-length cushion on the field, going away on the run-in, with five lengths back to the second Rust To Riches.

Horse to Follow

Mahler’s Dream (G. Lawless): He caught the eye when travelling stylishly and jumping impeccably from the front only to fail by a neck at the line. This lightly raced mare looks sure to make amends next time out.