Saturday 23 February 2019

'Buttercup' to flower for Mullins and Townend

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

The amalgamation of several top jumps races to develop the Dublin Racing Festival means there's a dearth of Grade One action until next month but tomorrow's Punchestown card has a few prizes to excite punters.

Given that future stars like Douvan, Vautour and Min have taken the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (2.50) in recent years, this doesn't look like a particularly strong renewal.

Willie Mullins has totally dominated affairs with seven winners in the past decade and the Closutton maestro sends two into battle with Harrie and Buildmeupbuttercup tackling four rivals in this Grade Two.

Ruby Walsh rides Harrie and while the seven-year-old won on his hurdling debut at Tramore last month, dropping back to two miles and tackling good ground for the first time make this a step into the unknown, especially at short odds.

It's a trappy affair with Jessica Harrington's Leopardstown handicap hurdle winner Jetez respected while Fairyhouse scorer Swordsman looks the better of the Gordon Elliott pair with Felix Desjy already soundly beaten twice in Grade Three events.

Paul Townend partners Buildmeupbuttercup and Mullins' second string may prove best. There was a lot to like with how she went about her business on debut at Navan last month - the 7lb mares' allowance is another plus - and she can oblige.

Kildare trainer Aidan Howard has a rare graded runner in the Grade Three Total Event Rental Novice Chase (1.15) and Winter Escape has obvious claims based on his victory in a similar event in Cork two months ago.

The eight-year-old is forced to give away weight all round, however, and Henry de Bromhead's exciting A Plus Tard is best placed to take advantage at the bottom of the weights.

Rachael Blackmore's mount did everything asked of him when scoring at Naas last month and can follow up while Mullins' Elixir D'ainay is the one to beat in the maiden hurdle (3.20) with good vibes emanating from Closutton.

All eyes will be on the Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase (2.10) at Fairyhouse today where Elliott makes a four-pronged attack on the €100,000 prize and progressive novice Duca De Thaix will take plenty of beating.

Davy Russell's mount is getting better with every run and may account for Ted Walsh's Kildorrery - ridden by Ruby - while another father and son combination in Philip and Luke Dempsey can land the opening Mares Maiden Hurdle (12.25) with Caravation.

Irish Independent

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