Mullins father-and-son team ready to catch fire
David Mullins, who is expected to benefit appreciably from the ill-luck that befell one of his colleagues, can strike for his father Tom at Punchestown today with Catcheragain.
Mullins, who steered Rule The World to Grand National glory last season, also partnered 39 winners in Ireland last term. Gigginstown, which has been such a supporter as his career developed, is set to use him all the more now with Bryan Cooper sidelined.
He is riding out for Gordon Elliott but it's for his father Tom that he's fancied to strike aboard the mare in the Coral.ie Stable Talk With Dan Skelton Handicap Hurdle. This daughter of Flemensfirth is owned by Tom's mother, Helen; it is truly a family affair.
Catcheragain finished second in a maiden hurdle a year ago and third in another this August. Her second of 20 at Gowran over today's distance on latest is really solid form.
There is a touch of class about the concluding maiden chase. Art Of Payroll really ought to have won a chase event by now and he may struggle to live with the smart hurdler General Principle, which should be up to winning a Graded heat in due course.
Note that Diamond King, so impressive on his chasing introduction yesterday at Galway under Davy Russell, thus cannot partake. Runner-up Lucky Pat is also declared again and must be a doubtful runner.
General Principle is trained by Gordon Elliott, who is expected to have a good day. He introduces a daughter of Sprinter Sacre's sire (Network) in the mares' bumper, Baby Twig an obvious sort under Jamie Codd. Meanwhile, Fire In His Eyes can take the maiden hurdle earlier on under David Mullins.
Note one at a price in the staying handicap chase. Courtncatcher, which was once rated in the 130s hurdling, has had a fairly patchy campaign. However, there was more spark in his second handicap start last time and if his jumping holds up he has a fair chance.
The sight of Monksland and Diamond King winning at Galway yesterday will have warmed the hearts of jumping fans. There is plenty of talent about too in today's rated hurdle over two miles. Hidden Cyclone, so narrowly denied in the Galway Hurdle and a subsequent winner over the smaller obstacles, faces The Game Changer, Bentelimar and four others.
Preference for Bentelimar is cushioned by his costly-to-follow profile. It will be intriguing to see how Ruby Walsh gets on aboard the seven-year-old, which is a strong steed and not the easiest of rides. Danny Mullins rode him into a Grade Two second on latest; he now switches to Hidden Cyclone.
The opening juvenile maiden hurdle is a decent event. Masonbrook Lady may again try to dictate from gate to wire but a chance is taken on Champagne Pat, which has quickly developed into a pretty useful performer.