Saturday 17 March 2018

Pont will be the one to beat, says Willie Mullins ahead of Neptune

WILLIE MULLINS believes Pont Alexandre "seems to have everything" ahead of his highly-anticipated run in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham tomorrow.

It is a measure of the regard in which the five-year-old is held that the Irish champion trainer threw him straight in at Grade One level on his Irish debut, and that confidence was justified as he produced a scintillating display at Navan.

He was arguably even more impressive at Leopardstown in January, with many having him down as the Irish banker of the Festival.

"We've asked him two big questions so far this season and he's answered the call well on both occasions," said Mullins.

"We're asking him another big question, so we'll see how he gets on.

"He's in good form - the ground wouldn't be a worry for me, or the trip.

"The potential for him looks immense, especially over fences rather than hurdles, but we thought we would stick to hurdles this year.

"He's got a great cruising speed, he jumps well, he seems to have everything. We are going there with good hopes."

Ruby Walsh will partner Pont Alexandre and he, too, has been hugely impressed with what the five-year-old has produced so far.

"He's a horse I really like," said Walsh.

"He's unbeaten since coming to Ireland. He beat Don Cossack in a Grade One in Ireland then won a Grade Two at Leopardstown with a penalty when he really impressed me from the second last where he changed gears.

"That was a horrible day, it was a gale-force wind with sleet and rain but he made all (of the running).

"I think he'll be better on decent ground.

"The odd bit of dry ground at home he's worked on he tends to show a bit more speed."

Online Editors

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