Gordon Elliott has added to his expanding hunter chase / open lightweight team, with Mala Beach the latest Cullentra House Stables inmate to receive a hunter certificate.
The 11-year-old, who is owned by Chris Jones, an owner whose colours were carried to success by Space Cadet in Sunday’s open at Castletown-Geoghegan, looks set to make his point-to-point debut with a chase rating of 152.
A former winner of the Troytown Chase at Navan, he has previously won a pair of Grade 2 races over hurdles, and was last seen running in April’s Grand National, when under Jamie Codd he pulled-up before the penultimate fence, in a race won by his stablemate Tiger Roll.
Elliott’s own colours will be carried by another former Grade 2 winner in Measureofmydreams, who was an early casualty in last year’s Irish National. The 11-year-old had received a hunter certificate last season, however connections elected to continue under rules with the Shantou gelding, where he was sent off as the favourite for the Kim Muir Chase at Cheltenham in March. However following a third-last fence error, he could only manage eighth behind the Derek O’Connor-ridden Any Second Now.
The Ray Nicholas colours featured in the winner’s enclosure at both Toomebridge and Castletown-Geoghegan last weekend, with the successes of Some Man and Pyrios, and they will also be carried by new recruit Marinero and the returning Eddies Miracle (pictured).
The latter has already won six races between the flags for the well-known bookmaker and handler David Christie, however he missed much of last season after pulling up at Kirkistown in November.
Marinero was top-rated 146 at his peak, and whilst he is a new horse for Nicholas, he has been with Christie for two seasons, having previously run for London-based owner-rider David Maxwell, under whom he won an Ascot Hunter Chase by 24 lengths.
Macs Legend was one of the leading performers in the open division, getting the notable scalp of Fenno’s Storm at Kildorrery in one of his three victories for Gerry Kelleher last season, and despite closing in on his 12th birthday, he is still sure to be a force to be reckoned with, having only started his racing career four years ago.
Val De Ferbet has been a stable star for former novice champion Andrew McNamara, winning four times for the Meath-based trainer, including a 12-length rout in a Grade 3 contest at Cork in 2017. Now a ten-year-old, he has not been seen since pulling up over hurdles at Navan in January.
Colin McBratney has had a number of interesting ex-track starts in his yard in recent years, achieving his greatest successes with the ill-fated Marito, and he has taken out hunter certificates for two French breds that previously were under the Sullivan Bloodstock ownership of Jared Sullivan in Dento Des Obeaux and Cosmos Des Obeaux.
Both started their careers in their native France, with the latter winning as a four-year-old at Auteuil, before just two outings in Britain for Sullivan, one when trained by Dan Skelton, and more recently, when with Nicky Henderson.
In all, 119 horses received hunter certificates this week 61 of which were four-year-old’s.