Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 25 May 2017

Yorkhill can build on fine form

Trainer Willie Mullins Photo: PA
Trainer Willie Mullins Photo: PA

Ashley Iveson

Yorkhill puts his unbeaten record over fences and huge reputation on the line in the Ryanair Gold Cup this afternoon.

Neither trainer Willie Mullins nor jockey Ruby Walsh have made any secret of the regard in which they hold the seven-year-old and he came up with the goods to win at the Cheltenham Festival for the second year in succession in last month's JLT Novices' Chase. He is a red-hot favourite to see off six rivals in the Grade One feature at Fairyhouse. "Yorkhill has been good since Cheltenham and we've never won this race before, so it would be nice to do it," said Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father. "He won his beginners' chase here, so the track and the trip and the ground won't be a problem and we're obviously very hopeful."

The master of Closutton trails Gordon Elliott by more than €350,000 in the race to be crowned this season's champion National Hunt trainer ahead of what could be a pivotal Easter weekend. With Elliott fielding 10 of the 30 runners in tomorrow's Irish Grand National, Mullins admits the team are up against it as they bid to retain the title.

"We need a lot of things to go right," said Mullins junior. "If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't, it doesn't. We need to make ground and not lose ground and we probably can't afford to stand still. With Gordon having a third of the field in the Irish Grand National, it will make it tough, but we'll see what happens."

Ryanair supremo Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud is represented by the Gordon Elliott-trained Ball D'Arc, Henry de Bromhead's Attribution and Noel Meade's Cheltenham hero Road To Respect. De Bromhead also saddles Some Plan, while Tony Martin's Anibale Fly and Baily Cloud from Mouse Morris' yard complete the line-up.

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