Outlander primed to end Mullins' long wait for success in Fairyhouse feature
A yawning 50 years after Vulpine gave Paddy Mullins the esteemed racing family's sole win in the Ryanair Gold Cup, Outlander is fancied to double the clan's meagre tally tomorrow.
As well as Outlander, Mullins' distinguished son Willie will saddle McKinley and Vedettariat in the two-and-a-half-mile Fairyhouse Grade One.
The insatiable champion trainer has also yet to add Easter Monday's Boylesports Irish Grand National, which Vulpine won in 1967, to his list of conquests.
That will have to wait another year as he opted not to declare either of his two remaining entrants yesterday morning, but he should secure an overdue triumph in tomorrow's €100,000 event, known for so long as the Powers Gold Cup.
Nine will go to post in all, with Gordon Elliott's Lord Scoundrel an interesting dark horse under Davy Russell, and Kerry Lee's Kylemore Lough another of note.
Barry Geraghty's mount was impressive in completing a four-timer off a mark of 151 at Sandown last time. He is stepping up in class, but Lee has emerged as one of the shrewdest young handlers in the business, so his presence is respected.
A similar comment applies to Venetia Williams' Otago Trail, although he has to bounce back from a sub-par turn behind Bristol De Mai at Haydock.
They all have Outlander to beat. Already a Grade One winner over this trip, the son of Stowaway was in the process of running a serious race in the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham when he crashed four-out under Bryan Cooper.
It is impossible to say whether he would have beaten Black Hercules, but he would surely have gone close, so he is trusted to make amends and stretch his unbeaten run in completed starts over fences to four.
Mullins throws four darts at the Grade One Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novices' Hurdle Final - Miss Me Now, Monbeg Rose, Myska and Asthuria.
Ruby Walsh, who presumably could have ridden any of the quartet, has opted for Asthuria.
A newcomer sporting Hurricane Fly's colours that was twice beaten over flights in France, the Sagacity five-year-old will be having its first run since February.
Cooper and Elliott combine for Whistle Dixie, Noel Fehily and Harry Fry have a live chance with Jessber's Dream and Geraghty will sport JP McManus' silks on Jer's Girl, Gavin Cromwell's stable star have recently changed hands.
It is an open-looking affair, and a chance is taken on Cashelard Lady. Trained by rookie handler Shane Crawley in Co Meath, Cashelard Lady has been beaten just twice in four starts since the middle of October.
She won a Wexford bumper before then running second to Augusta Kate in a Listed race at Navan, and then destroyed the opposition to get off the mark over flights here on January 1.
Back at the track later that month, she found only Limini too good in a Grade Three.
Cashelard Lady was 11 lengths off the subsequent Cheltenham winner, but she had today's rivals Whistle Dixie and Ten Times Better well back. She is clearly a pretty smart mare, so she gets the nod to secure what would be a massive victory for her fledgling stable under Russell.
The former dual champion jockey might also go close on Alto Esqua in the Grade Two novices' hurdle.
Charles Byrnes' well-backed Clonmel debutant winner faces stiff opposition from the likes of Lift The Latch, Nambour and Acapella Bourgeois, but his form has worked out quite well, so it might be unwise to underestimate him.
In the Boylesports Novices' Handicap Chase, Walsh's booking on Sandra Hughes's Guitar Pete may prove significant. Although no match for Thistlecrack in the Cleeve Hurdle, Guitar Pete ran well here to be third to Nearly Nama'd in the Dan Moore Chase. He has scope to progress further over fences.
The day's nap vote falls to Fine Rightly in the Imperial Call Chase at Cork. Stuart Crawford's eight-year-old was third in the Hennessy Gold Cup and then won tidily at Down Royal last week.
He is the highest rated runner in this Grade Three, and he should win for Andrew Lynch if he runs to form.