Mullins has double vision for Drive Time
WILLIE MULLINS has confirmed that Drive Time, a cosy winner on the Flat at Killarney last week, remains on schedule for a possible tilt at two of next week's feature events at Galway.
A handicap hurdle winner on its bow for the champion trainer at the Punchestown Festival, the Graham Wylie-owned seven-year-old scored readily on his reappearance in an amateur riders' race under Mullins' son Patrick at the Kerry venue.
His jockey reported afterwards that it had been an ideal prep for tomorrow week's Guinness Galway Hurdle, but his father suggested yesterday that he might first tackle the valuable Carlton Hotel-sponsored amateur riders' contest on Monday evening's opening card, a race that he has yet to win as a trainer.
"I was very pleased with him in Killarney," Mullins said of Drive Time. "He did everything nicely and all going well he'll be at Galway.
"We'll put him in the handicap for amateur riders and he's in the Galway Hurdle. That's the way we'd be looking at the moment."
Drive Time, which has 10st 11lb in the €260,000 showpiece, is one of seven, including last year's Plate heroine Blazing Tempo (10st 5lb), that could represent the Closutton yard in the two-miler.
Mullins' sole Hurdle victory came via Mystical City in 1996, with Deutschland (2009) and Shandon Star (2006) since filling the runner-up berth. Drive Time is a top-priced 16/1 for glory, and might bid to succeed where two others have failed in recent years should he tackle both races.
In 2008, John Kiely's Indian Pace landed the Hurdle under a teenage Paul Townend having finished fifth in the amateur riders' heat, while Fosters Cross, which is trained by Mullins' brother Tom, won the Monday highlight last year before finishing second to Moon Dice in the main event.
Fosters Cross (11st) is available at up to 25/1 to go one better tomorrow week, while Kiely's Carlingford Lough (10st 3lb) heads the market alongside Mick Winters' Grimes Hurdle hero Rebel Fitz (10st 13lb) and Don McCain's Lexi's Boy (10st 6lb) at 10/1.
McCain sent Overturn over from his Chester base to land the spoils under Galway native Graham Lee in 2010. Pat Martin has suggested that his in-foal Our Nana Rose, which won for a third time in a row at Ballinrobe on Monday, could have her final start in the mares' hurdle on the last day of the Festival on Sunday week. Ado McGuinness also revealed that Sunday's six-furlong Rockingham victor Bubbly Bellini is now Ballybrit-bound.
"Bubbly Bellini goes for the seven-furlong race at Galway on the Saturday," the Lusk handler said. "He wouldn't want it rock hard but he's not likely to get that at Galway with the weather the way it is."
Having been yielding to soft, soft in places on Monday, the official going at the western track was yesterday changed to soft, soft to heavy in places, with further heavy rain falling there in the evening.
Dermot Weld, meanwhile, has stated that Famous Name will bid for a third successive Meld Stakes triumph at Leopardstown tomorrow rather than bid for an elusive first Group One in the Bayerisches Zuchtrennen at Munich this weekend.
The seven-year-old son of Dansili finished second in the German race 12 months ago.