Sunday 28 May 2017

Patrick Mullins: Djakadam's preparations have gone to plan and he can beat the hoodoo

Djakadam (right) will be hoping to go one better than last year when he finished second behind Don Cossack in the Gold Cup. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Djakadam (right) will be hoping to go one better than last year when he finished second behind Don Cossack in the Gold Cup. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Patrick Mullins

What a difference a day makes in the world of horse racing and after coming away empty-handed two days running, four winners for the yard came in just over three hours on a magical Thursday which won't be forgotten in a hurry.

Willie told Graham Wylie that he could possibly have another Inglis Drever, which was king of the staying hurdle division three times, on his hands when Nichols Canyon came over from France and he delivered on that promise to take our first Stayers' Hurdle, and an eighth Grade One for an under-rated horse.

Dad deserves a lot of credit for changing his routine completely at home in an effort to get him sparkling again, while Ruby timed his run to perfection on a day when his unrivalled class in the saddle was clear for all to see after earlier giving a masterclass on Un De Sceaux, the most exciting horse in training, and Yorkhill.

Today revolves around the Gold Cup (3.30) and we're hoping to make it third-time lucky with Djakadam. While he's never won around Cheltenham, and fallen there twice, his two best career runs were in the last two blue ribands and he's had the perfect preparation to go one better this time around.

Dream

Usually our top three-mile chasers would go to Leopardstown for the Irish Gold Cup but we decided to bypass that to keep him fresh. He appears to be in fantastic form and we're hoping he can end our Gold Cup hoodoo. For everyone in the sport, winning the Gold Cup is the dream and we're no different.

He was just six running in his first Gold Cup and last year he had a fall which required stitches and was short on schooling practice, which wasn't ideal, so this is probably the best chance he'll ever have to win this race as things have gone exactly to plan with him all season.

Elsewhere on the card, we're doubly represented in the opener (1.30) and Bapaume has strong form. We're hoping the better ground will play to his strengths but he has to reverse form with the impressive Mega Fortune while Dandy Mag is a brother to Vroum Vroum Mag and he's looking to uphold a family tradition around Cheltenham. He's probably the smallest horse in the yard and while he's only coming here off a maiden hurdle win, his homework warrants the trip.

They'll both likely play second fiddle, however, as Defi Du Seuil is on a six-race winning streak and will be hard beaten, but Mega Fortune is my idea of the winner. Gordon Elliott's horses are red-hot and the cheekpieces improved him the last day so he'll fly the Irish flag proudly.

Arctic Fire was second in the Champion Hurdle two years and has proven course form having also finished fourth in the County Hurdle (2014), but he's 418 days off the track and it'll be very difficult to compete off top-weight in the Grade Three handicap hurdle (2.10).

We also run Renneti, a horse a little like Labaik earlier in the week which can have his own ideas but we're confident that today will be a going day and he'll jump off because he has a lot of ability. His run with Tombstone and Jezki the last day was very strong; if he starts I think he's much better than his mark.

I think Augusta Kate was going to beat Death Duty at Naas before falling at the last, Ruby hadn't gone for his stick while Jack Kennedy was at work when she went down and we have a good chance of turning the tables in the Albert Bartlett (2.50).

Her dam Feathard Lady was an unbeaten Grade One hurdler and the trip will suit while Penhill is a good back-up. He's won five from seven over hurdles and while jumping isn't his strong point, there's only two jumps in the last mile of the track and that'll suit him. He's overpriced.

I ride Aupcharlie, which was only beaten four lengths by On The Fringe last year, for Jim Dreaper in the amateur riders version of the Gold Cup (4.10) and I'm excited to have a good ride in this race. I'd be expecting a big run and he has place claims but everyone will be playing second fiddle to On The Fringe.

Battleford was second in the Champion Bumper last year, beaten a short head, and brings Festival form to the table in the Martin Pipe (4.50). We won this race with Killultagh Vic (2015) and Don Poli ('14) and he has a big chance, the trip and the drying ground will suit him.

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We also have Castello Sforza which was fourth in the Bumper 12 months ago and there's not much between them so he won't be too far away, while Pairofbrowneyes has been incredibly consistent all year and can finish the four days on a high.

Patrick's Picks

1.30: Mega Fortune

2.10: Renneti (e/w)

2.50: Augusta Kate

3.30: Djakadam

4.10: On The Fringe

4.50: Battleford

5.30: Pairofbrowneyes

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