Tuesday 25 July 2017

Limini Champion switch 'has to be thought about' - Mullins

Trainer Colin Tizzard. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Trainer Colin Tizzard. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Johnny Ward

Limini could emerge as Willie Mullins' main Stan James Champion Hurdle contender after her superb win at Punchestown on Wednesday.

The Rich Ricci-owned horse, which landed the mares' novice hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last season, brushed Apple's Jade aside and was cut into even-money with one bookmaker for the OLBG Mares' Hurdle after the race.

However, yesterday money came for her in the Champion Hurdle market, a race that Mullins won in 2015 and 2016 with Faugheen and Annie Power respectively, both of them now sidelined.

Limini was into 11/1 on the betting exchanges last night for the Champion Hurdle, a race for which she would need to be supplemented.

"I haven't really discussed it with the owner but it is certainly something that has to be thought about," the trainer told this newspaper.

"She has lots of pace in the way that she works: two miles or two-and-a-half miles really makes no difference. I was delighted with how Wednesday worked out."

Thistlecrack's injury blow has failed to hinder the optimism of his trainer. That Cue Card is 11 is the only reason preventing him from usurping stablemate Native River as favourite for the Gold Cup, Colin Tizzard said at a Festival media event at his yard yesterday.

Cue Card attempts to become the oldest winner of the Gold Cup since 12-year-old What A Myth's victory in 1969 but his recent Ascot success suggested he is not slowing down.

Tizzard said: "He was fluent, jumped well and sluiced away. If you'd seen him on the gallop this morning he comes up it like a five-year-old. If he weren't 11 I'm sure he'd be favourite."

Cue Card's owner is 83-year-old Jean Bishop, who said she felt for Thistlecrack's owners John and Heather Snook.

"I felt fed up and very flat when I heard," she said. "It was like it had happened to us. I know what it would have felt like to them."

Meanwhile, Ruby Walsh was seen at his inimitable best at Thurles yesterday, driving Tin Soldier to a victory in the feature Grade Three that looked improbable for much of the final half-mile.

Dramatic

Running in the colours of Philip Reynolds, son of former Taoiseach Albert, the 100/30 shot rallied in the straight to win going away for Willie Mullins. "I'll probably keep him at home and look for a staying novice," the trainer said in relation to Cheltenham.

If that success came out of duress, that of 50/1 chance Carrigeen Acebo was even more dramatic. With three of the seven runners either falling or brought down, the Liz Lalor-ridden winner was gifted the race, much to the joy of some on Betfair. She was backed on the betting exchange in running at 999/1.

Three lady riders enjoyed wins at Thurles. Jane Walton won on Clounts Meadows for Mick Winters at 7/1, while Lisa O'Neill drove Sutton Manor to score at 9/2 for Gordon Elliott.

The latter may have earned a late call up to Elliott's Cheltenham squad with victory in the Littleton Handicap Hurdle.

O'Neill's mount pulled eight lengths clear and could contest the Pertemps Final at Prestbury Park.

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