Eagle can soar for Mullins in opener
Published 18/11/2015 | 02:30
Depending on your take on the matter, Faugheen's shock defeat might have reflected the reality that some of the Willie Mullins battalion aren't yet firing on all cylinders.
However, his novice hurdling brigade is beginning to look pretty indomitable. Bachasson and Long Dog have both clocked up early sequences, and Bellshill and Blue Et Rouge both danced home at short odds at Cork on Sunday.
Today, Mullins (right) unleashes two more potentially smart novices with contrasting profiles at Fairyhouse.
First up is Open Eagle in the two-mile maiden. Bought out of David O'Meara's all-conquering yard for an undisclosed sum after demolishing the 2014 November Handicap field by 12 lengths at Doncaster, the seven-time Flat winner was disappointing on his Punchestown hurdle bow in February.
On that occasion, the son of Montjeu could finish only third behind Total Recall and Oscar Knight, form that reads pretty modestly given the sort of money that it will have taken to acquire a horse with a Flat rating of 104.
Having initially responded well to Ruby Walsh's urgings, Open Eagle's effort floundered from the last flight over the two-and-a-half-mile trip. Although he could reasonably be expected to stay that far given his 12-furlong exploits on the level, he may not have got home.
With that in mind, he is given another chance now that he drops back to two miles under Walsh. Of the selection's rivals, Investmentsuccess and Joshua Lane are well equipped to take advantage should he fluff his lines.
Mullins and Walsh are represented in the longer edition by Up For Review. Space Cadet is a race-fit rival worthy of respect in this, but it's hard to get away from Up For Review, which pulverised the opposition on its track bow at Leopardstown last Christmas.
He then finished second to Tycoon Prince at Naas before flopping on drier ground at Cheltenham, and signed off by finishing third to Yorkhill at Punchestown. Sandymount Duke, which has since acquitted himself so well over flights, was just behind him that day. If Up For Review, also a point-to-point winner, runs to that sort of level here, he really should win.
The card's Today FM Handicap Chase has some novelty appeal as the first lady riders' chase run in Ireland.
Nina Carberry, Rachael Blackmore, Moira McElligott and Jane Mangan have all acquired decent mounts, while English star Lizzie Kelly flies in to partner Rightville Boy, which shares top-weight with On The Shannon.
That Oliver McKiernan-trained seven-year-old will be ridden by Katie Walsh, who is trusted to steer him to victory. Up five pounds for winning at Naas 11 days ago, On The Shannon remains open to further improvement.