Monday 19 February 2018

Patrick Mullins: Djakadam can finally rid us of our blue riband bridesmaids tag

Limini, with Ruby Walsh up, on the way to winning the Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Limini, with Ruby Walsh up, on the way to winning the Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Patrick Mullins

St Patrick's Day was certainly kind to the Mullins team as we made it a magnificent seven for the week with a treble on the card, but it was even better for followers of this column as we secured the great eight, capped off by a juicy 258/1 four-timer.

It was particularly special to watch Black Hercules dominate the JLT as my cousin Emmet and I bought him as an unbroken store horse before jointly training him to win a point-to-point and then selling him to the Wylies. I got a great kick out of that.

Vautour was extraordinary in the Ryanair; his preparation hadn't been what we hoped so we weren't sure what to expect but after today, we can dream of a tilt at the Gold Cup next season, and the possibility of a famous Festival quartet.

Limini did exactly what she's been showing at home and has the ability to go to Royal Ascot or the Melbourne Cup, such is her electric turn of pace. Options are endless but once she's winning over hurdles, I'd imagine we'll keep her there.

Nobody deserved World Hurdle success more than the Tizzards and Thistlecrack. Watching him travelling around the home bend looking keen was amazing and for our sake I hope he stays over hurdles next year - he was sublime.

Of our three runners, Footpad holds the best chance in the opening Triumph Hurdle (1.30), even though it's not a division I'm fond of because it doesn't offer much to racing in the long term.

Aidan O'Brien's Ivanovich Gorbatov impressed at Christmas and I'd forgive his last run. Every horse is entitled to throw in a bad one, and it looks like he has been crying out for good ground so he should improve significantly.

Great Field excelled at Leopardstown despite running keen and in good ground with a big field around him, he'll settle much better today. His mark of 147 gives him some scope and we're expecting a big run in the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle (2.10).

Ruby is aboard Dicosimo, a horse we've always thought a lot of and a fine chasing prospect next year. He got very worked up at Newbury the last day and gave Danny Mullins a horrible fall but he wears a hood today and is a solid place bet.

I ride outsider Bachasson in the Albert Bartlett (2.50) but on form, Long Dog is our most obvious candidate for a winner. He's won six on the bounce, including two Grade Ones, and with Ruby eager to step up to 3m, he should go close.


Gangster, a half-brother to Ascot Gold Cup winner Rite Of Passage, is constantly improving and is sparkling at home recently. He'll be heavily involved, and the grey Bleu Et Ruge will also be on the scene.

He forms another part of our strongest collective team, seven in total, for any race at the Festival. There's not much between any of the three mentioned but Long Dog brings the best form to the table.

The Gold Cup (3.30) is the pinnacle of our great sport and after finishing second five times, we're desperate to win the blue riband. This looks as good a chance as ever with Djakadam, runner-up 12 months ago, the leading fancy given the absence of defending champion Coneygree.

He's fallen in two of his three runs at Cheltenham but he jumped well here last year so we're expecting a big run, while Don Poli is a horse I adore, and he's ideal for the race. He'll settle and jump economically and while he is lazy, he's far from slow. I've no concerns about him being outpaced.

He wasn't impressive in the Lexus but he still won it and considering all the good horses of ours who've tried and failed, that's a huge indicator of his ability. Twice a Festival winner, he handles the track, the ground and most importantly the occasion, while I'm expecting a good spin off my mount On His Own, and if he could make the top four it'd be like a win.

On The Fringe will take all the beating in the Foxhunter Chase (4.10). I think he's a class apart while Marito, a horse we used to train, has outstanding form in the book and may spring a surprise.

Childrens List has been unlucky this season but he's our number one hope in the Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle (4.40) with David Mullins aboard. Having ridden Grade One winners, his experience is priceless and together, the pair could have a few pounds up their sleeve.

We've no runner in the last but I fancy Rock The World to make a bold bid for Jessie Harrington. He won at the course in November and has since been put away. Jessie doesn't bring them over unless they've a chance and he can score to cap a fantastic week for the Irish.

Patrick's picks     

1.30 Footpad (e/w)
2.10 Great Field
2.50 Long Dog
3.30 Djakadam
4.10 On The Fringe (Nap)
4.50 Childrens List
5.30 Rock The World

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