Saturday 22 October 2016

Yorkhill proves too strong for Sandown rivals

Simon Milham

Published 03/01/2016 | 02:30

Trainer Willie Mullins. Picture: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Trainer Willie Mullins. Picture: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Yorkhill was much too good for four rivals in the Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown. Sent off the 4/9 favourite in desperate conditions, the Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old bossed the Grade One under Ruby Walsh to extend his unbeaten record over hurdles to two races. Agrapart took the field into the straight, but Yorkhill was clearly travelling by far the best.

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The winner joined Agrapart and eventual runner-up O O Seven at the second-last and soon charged into a clear-cut lead, which he never looked like relinquishing. It looked quite hard work along the run-in, but Yorkhill had the race in the bag by then and ended up two-and-a-quarter lengths in front at the line. "I was very impressed with him, to do what he did on that ground," admitted Mullins. "I was very concerned (about the ground), but he handled it very well. He runs a bit left, but that was only his second start over hurdles, so I'm not too worried about that at this stage."

Yorkhill was cut in price to around 8/1 for both the Supreme and the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival, but plans are fluid at this stage. "We'll just see what horses are going well come the Festival and what jockeys are available," said Mullins. "There's no trouble staying when he did what he did there, but he has always shown us plenty of speed at home and the Supreme is certainly not out of the equation at this stage."

Soll underscored his staying qualities to win the £100,000 Veterans' Handicap Chase Final at Sandown. The 7/1 joint-favourite ground down the honourable Aachen late in the piece to relight Crabbie's Grand National dreams after the 11-year-old finished ninth in the great race last season.

Lancelot Du Lac started the new year by landing the Conditions Stakes at Chelmsford. The six-year-old had too much class for his rivals when scoring over the minimum trip for the first time in his career in 57.39 seconds. Always close to the firing line, the Dean Ivory-trained even-money shot forged on inside the final furlong to keep at bay German raider Gamgoom by a length and a half in a fast-track qualifier for All-Weather Championship Finals Day at Lingfield on Good Friday.

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