Friday 23 June 2017

Mikael camp live for the moment

Mikael D'Haguenet ridden by Ruby Walsh. Photo: Getty Images
Mikael D'Haguenet ridden by Ruby Walsh. Photo: Getty Images

Willie Mullins does not want to look beyond Sunday's Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown for exciting performer Mikael D'Haguenet.

The seven-year-old was a three-time Grade One winner over hurdles but his career over the larger obstacles, delayed by over a year due to injury, has so far not gone to plan.

He took a tumble at the final fence when sure to go close on his belated comeback at Fairyhouse, and disappointed when odds-on for his next start at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Mullins is sure his charge is better than that last run indicates, however, and remains hopeful he can give a better account of himself this weekend.

"I'm certainly hoping that he'll run better than he did at Christmas and I was happy with his last bit of work," said the champion trainer

"I'm only hoping that he might be coming back to what he showed us earlier in the season and as a hurdler, so we'll see."

While many already have one eye on the Cheltenham Festival, Mullins is keen not to get too far ahead of himself.

Mikael D'Haguenet holds entries in the Arkle Trophy and the RSA Chase, but Mullins insists this weekend's major prizes are all he is concerned with at this stage.

"I suppose it is our version of Champions' Day in the jumps world on Sunday," the trainer continued.

"I'm going to Leopardstown to try and win the races. There are four Grades Ones on Sunday and I'm trying to focus on the meeting on its own, not as a trial for Cheltenham.

"With Mikael, all we are thinking of at the moment is trying to win the race on Sunday. We've done a lot of preparation to try and have him right for this weekend.

"He didn't jump great the last day and he was a bit stiff round Leopardstown when he schooled there last year, but Paul (Townend) schooled him over nine fences the other day and was thrilled with him."

One of Mikael D'Haguenet's major rivals is the Dessie Hughes-trained Magnanimity.

The seven-year-old got the better of the well-regarded Jessies Dream on his latest start, but big-race jockey Davy Russell expects a stiffer test on Sunday.

"We were very happy with him the last day, but it was a very messy race and it could be a different story on Sunday," said Russell.

"Mikael D'Haguenet would no doubt be hard to beat if he come back to his best, but Dessie is happy with his horse."

Hughes also runs Western Charmer, while the Jessica Harrington-trained Bostons Angel and Sam Adams from the Paul Nolan yard complete the five-runner field.

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