Mullins could save Bob for Drinmore assault
The irrepressible Willie Mullins, whose tally for the last eight days stands at a massive 12, looks set to delay Boston Bob's fencing debut beyond this weekend after watching last season's leading Irish novice hurdler gallop under Ruby Walsh.
A Grade One winner at Navan last year, the Bob Back gelding has engagements in beginners' chases at both Gowran Park on Saturday and Navan on Sunday.
Boston Bob's only other entry at the moment is in the Drinmore Novice Chase on Sunday week and Mullins' comments leave open the intriguing possibility of him having a first stab at the bigger obstacles in the prestigious Fairyhouse Grade One.
"Ruby (Walsh) rode a bit of work on him and was very pleased with him," he said of Graham Wylie's seven-year-old, which finished second in the three-mile novices' hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
"I'm looking forward to him as a novice chaser. He's entered at the weekend, but I might just take another week with him."
Should the champion trainer elect introduce Boston Bob in the classy two-and-a-half-mile contest, it would not be the first time that he has deployed such a bold strategy. In the 2010 Drinmore, Mikael D'Haguenet, which had run once over fences in France two years previously, fell at the last with the race at his mercy.
Ultimately, that particular decision backfired, as the brilliant 2009 Cheltenham Festival hero has been a shadow of his old self since. Last Saturday, having finally appeared to have recaptured his confidence with a bold-jumping Punchestown show, he was beaten again after slithering to the ground on landing when clear at the last.
Mikael D'Haguenet remains a maiden over fences and is one of 10 that Mullins has in the Drinmore. Few of those, though, have quite as much potential as Boston Bob.
Mullins, who confirmed that Champagne Fever has the Royal Bond and Navan Novice Hurdles as Grade One options following his triumph at Cork last weekend, also said that he had yet to decide on whether one or both of Bishopsfurze (11st 8lb) and Sweet My Lord (10st 12lb) would represent him in Sunday's Troytown Chase.
Gordon Elliott's Romanesco (10st 9lb), is one of three 8/1 joint-market leaders for the three-mile handicap with the sponsors Ladbrokes.
JP McManus' Eddie Harty-trained Like Your Style (10st 10lb) and Gigginstown Stud's Charlie Swan-trained Start Me Up (11st 4lb) are the other two vying for favouritism, with Orpheus Valley (10st 12lb), successful at Roscommon for Tom Gibney last time, next best at 9/1.
Leonard Whitmore, meanwhile, has revealed that his Galway Plate runner-up Casey Top, a fine fourth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday, will now be trained for a return to Prestbury Park in the spring.
"We were delighted with the run," the Enniscorthy-based handler reported. "It was the first time we had a runner in England and they looked after us like little lords. He might have a break and go back there for a race in March."