(Joseph O’Brien)

Dundalk, November 24th

The Dermot Weld-trained Taraj was in a different league to his rivals in a two-year-old mile maiden at Dundalk last week, arriving with some quality turf form after catching the eye in a pair of Curragh maidens. Third-placed Perretti went into the notebook as a future maiden winner on this occasion, however, as there was plenty to like about how he got the hang of things in the closing stages. He would have got up for second with another three strides. A €180,0000 yearling purchase by Lope De Vega, this Joseph O’Brien-trained newcomer is the first foal out of a useful French mare, who achieved a Timeform rating of 100 over just shy of a mile and six furlongs. That implies this colt should have little problem staying further than a mile next term. (MB)


(Gordon Elliott)

Punchestown, November 25th

There could well be a big handicap chase in Coqolino off a mark of 130. Once again he caught the eye with a staying-on effort to finish third in the extended 2m5f handicap chase won by Idas Boy at Punchestown on Saturday. Held up by Mark Walsh, he made a significant error at the third last, just as he was making ground before staying on steadily up the straight, appreciating this longer trip, to finish five and a half lengths off the winner. A talented novice hurdler, his chasing career has been chequered by long gaps on the sidelines but this was a second good effort in a row and he remains a horse with plenty of scope to improve, perhaps over three miles. He could scrape into the Paddy Power. (RG)

Staffordshire Knot

(Gordon Elliott)

Cork, November 26th

Connections of five-year-old Staffordshire Knot have afforded him plenty of time and he could be set to repay that patience pretty soon on the basis of his third on debut in a Cork maiden hurdle last Sunday. It was a fine effort to finish third behind Willie Mullins’ Readin Tommy Wrong and Lisnagar Fortune given he looked plenty raw, particularly over the opening flights when a little inefficient. The most pleasing aspect of this performance was how he stuck to the task in behind rivals in the straight, beaten just two and a quarter lengths. He should be up to winning a similar event with this run under his girth and his pedigree offers some encouragement too, being a €60,000 yearling from the family of Many Clouds and The Tullow Tank. (MB)

Gabbys Cross

(Henry de Bromhead)

Punchestown, November 26th

Gabbys Cross was unlucky to bump into the seriously progressive Buddy One on his penultimate start at Galway and there is a fair chance he met another very well handicapped rival in the shape of Jody Ted in a Pertemps qualifier at Punchestown last Sunday. Henry de Bromhead’s gelding stayed on stoutly up the straight from his initial held up position but he had no answer to the winner, who was 19lb better off over hurdles compared to his chase mark. You can say the same for Gabbys Cross as well - he is a stone lower over hurdles compared to his chase mark, and it may be that he has just bumped into two even better treated rivals since the revert. He is qualified for the Pertemps Final but it seems unlikely the British handicapper will assess him as favourably when allotting him a hurdles mark so he may well be better playing at home for now. (RG)

The Flying Donkey

(James Dullea)

Tramore, November 28th

There could be a few future winners to emerge from the low-grade Tramore handicap hurdle run over two miles and five furlongs last Tuesday. Ted Walsh-trained winner Buachaillbocht, by Blue Bresil, is thoroughly unexposed, runner-up Kiln Time is an improver who won on his previous start at Wexford and others in the shake up had won or been placed recently. Given it was his first start in handicap company, there was certainly promise in the run of fourth-placed The Flying Donkey, trained by James Dullea. The 100/1 shot had shown little in three previous starts in maiden hurdles but this was a clear step in the right direction and he shaped as though he’ll sharpen up for the run too. He has only had four starts and is one to keep in mind for a similar event back at this venue in 2024. (MB)