With over 1,200 races, including 81 black type contests, in Britain and Ireland last season having been won by Irish point-to-point graduates, it is no surprise that attention once again turns to the point-to-point fields ahead of the new National Hunt season to get a glimpse of the potential future stars which are set to make headlines into 2018.
The strength of four-year-old maidens in particular has never been greater, ensuring that it is easy to see why this particular age division of point-to-pointers has been responsible for more Grade 1 winners in Britain or Ireland in the past two seasons than any other race type across, Ireland, Britain or France. Within that time period, 30 Grade 1 races were won by horses who had begun their careers in Irish point-to-point maidens for four-year-old’s, more than any other age and race category.
So much of the focus on Irish point-to-point graduates last season was generated by the remarkable season of Finian’s Oscar, a horse who made a winning debut in a four-year-old maiden at Portrush point-to-point in late October, before winning the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown less than three months later. That proved to be just one of the two Grade 1 prizes which he collected in that debut campaign, as he topped-off the season by winning the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree and finishing second, beaten just a short-head by fellow point-to-point graduate, Bacardys, in yet another Grade 1 contest at the Punchestown Festival.
Such is the quick turnaround, particularly of the autumn four-year-old point-to-pointers, that Finian’s Oscar is not alone in making a notable impression, with fellow autumn graduates, Poli Roi, Minellafordollars and Fabulous Saga all having already made the swift transition for new connections on the track, ruling them out of our list which instead focusses on those horses who have yet to appear on the track.