Friday 23 February 2018

Anxious wait for Townend after 'Vic' fall

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Patrick McCann
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Patrick McCann

Michael Verney

Willie Mullins could face a mini crisis with jockey Paul Townend facing an anxious wait for MRI results on his damaged ankle after his final-fence fall on Killultagh Vic in Sunday's Unibet Gold Cup.

Townend's X-rays came back clear but further details will be known tomorrow with an MRI assessing the extend of the damage as the Cork rider looks to avoid time on the sidelines and build on Grade One wins aboard Footpad and Mr Adjudicator at the Dublin Racing Festival.

With No 1 jockey Ruby Walsh still recovering from a broken leg but expected to return in time for next month's Cheltenham Festival, Mullins will be hoping his deputy makes a swift return.

However, Mullins' nephew David - who rode Min to Grade Two success in the Coral Dublin Chase - could benefit from any misfortune as he appears to be current third-choice at Closutton.

Mullins also reports that a trip to the Cotswolds and another tilt at the Champion Hurdle remains firmly on the cards for Faugheen - he is also entered in the Stayers' Hurdle - despite being turned over by Supasundae at the Foxrock track on Saturday.

"Obviously he needs to improve if he is to get back to anywhere near his best but, while he was a bit disappointing yesterday, it was a step forward from his poor performance in the Ryanair Hurdle at Christmas," the champion trainer said of his 10-year-old, now a general 6/1 for the Champion Hurdle.

Yorkhill's future plans are unclear, however, after finishing a disappointing sixth behind Min but Nicky Henderson's reigning Arkle Chase winner Altior - the 6/5 Champion Chase favourite - looks set to end his 10-month racecourse absence this weekend at Newbury.

Unbeaten

Unbeaten in 11 starts over jumps, Altior had minor surgery on a breathing problem which has delayed his return but Henderson took to Twitter to confirm his intention to run providing the ground does not deteriorate.

"His work has been good and we're very happy. We'll keep an eye on the weather but if it stays good to soft/soft, he'll be declared," the Seven Barrows handler said of his eight-year-old, which has not raced beating Champion Chase winner Special Tiara in April.

Altior is among seven entries in Saturday's Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase - a race he won 12 months ago as a novice - but his likely opponents, including Tingle Creek winner Politologue, will not be known for 24 hours after the race was reopened.

Elsewhere, Henderson's Might Bite will go straight to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup, for which he is a general 3/1 favourite, as the 67-year-old chases his third blue-riband success following wins by Long Run (2011) and Bobs Worth (2013).

Irish Independent

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