Monday 20 November 2017

'Acapella' on song for Mullins as owner laments Hughes retirement

Acapella Bourgeois is to join Willie Mullins. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Acapella Bourgeois is to join Willie Mullins. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Acapella Bourgeois, one of the smartest novice chasers in Ireland, will join the Willie Mullins team.

The news comes in light of Sandra Hughes' announcement that she would shortly be ending all training activities. Lar Byrne, who owned the great Hardy Eustace, told the Irish Independent that two other horses in which he has an involvement will also make the switch to the champion trainer.

Byrne is head of the Slaneyville Syndicate which owns Acapella Bourgeois and also potentially smart chaser Total Recall, which is another to switch to Mullins. The third horse is Dolciano Dici, a promising four-year-old hurdle winner bought out of France.

Byrne said: "It is sad that Sandra is calling time but it reflects that it is a tough game for so many trainers. After her father, Dessie, passed away, it was brave of Sandra to take over.

"I sent Dessie a horse for the first time in 1991 and we enjoyed success together from 1993 onwards.

"Dessie and his family became close friends of mine and the Hardy Eustace days were something else. It was a golden era for Irish racing. And when Acapella Bourgeois ran in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham this year, I was buzzing like I was back then."

The son of Network - sire of Sprinter Sacre - ran no sort of race at Cheltenham when bidding to provide Roger Loughran with a fairytale winner, but Byrne contends that it is easy to forgive him and fairer to concentrate on his Grade Two romp at Navan earlier in the campaign.

"He got a bit excited before the race - rather like myself - and he had expended his energy long before the end. I realise he likes soft ground but I'd like to think he's not as reliant on it as some may say."

The three horses are enjoying their summer break at the moment before moving to Co Carlow, where they may form a key part of Mullins assault on what would be an 11th successive title next year.

Meanwhile, Sligo is unlikely to host any Flat meets this year, after the track was forced to admit the loss yesterday of another meeting, that of June 20.

This is due to "due to ongoing remedial work" there, with what is reported to be quite serious damage done to the track's drainage earlier in the year. However, it is expected that Sligo will be able to host Jumps fixtures in 2017.

Michael Halford is counting down the days to Irish Correspondent taking his chance in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday week, while he also has Rehana in the fillies' event on the following day.

"Irish Correspondent come out of his Curragh run well. He's in good form; I've been very happy with him since," said Halford. "The Guineas is the plan. All has to go well between now and then, obviously, but I've been pleased with him, he's been good.

"All has gone well with Rehana since the Athasi win at Naas. She's in top form and I'm very pleased with her. It's all going to plan."

Irish Independent

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