Horses To Follow » Dooneys Gate

Dooneys Gate

There was a lot to like about the way Dooneys Gate stayed on at the end of a valuable two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase at Leopardstown on Sunday. The Willie Mullins-trained gelding was making his seasonal debut here, and he didn’t look to be travelling at all well for Patrick Mullins in the early stages of the race, when well out the back of the 12-runner field. He is a horse who is usually held up, but he was still second last at the fifth last fence, fully 15 lengths off the leader Rare Bob as they began to make their turn out of the back. But he did begin to pick up from here. He had to come around the outside of the entire field to get into a challenging position, but he really responded for pressure and he briefly looked in with a chance of winning just before the last. His challenge did flatten out, but there was a lot to like about the way he got himself into the race, finishing fourth, beaten just under three lengths, with a gap to the fifth-placed horse.

Although he only won once last season, Dooneys Gate did put up some nice performances, including when last seen running a highly-creditable fourth in the Topham at Aintree on ground that was probably a shade too quick for him. On his seasonal debut here, returning from a 275-day absence, it was a more than satisfactory effort from the son of Oscar. He is a 10-year-old now, but he is still relatively lightly-raced for his age. He ran a similar type of race on his seasonal debut at Fairyhouse last season before going on to take a nice handicap chase at Leopardstown. He has won over three miles, but he may be better over two and a half. He is at his best with a bit of give in the ground and it will be interesting to see where Willie Mullins goes with him next.

9th January 2011