Thursday 22 August 2019

Mullins pays tribute to 'unique' Wicklow Brave after delivering the stand-out victory of a hat-trick

Wicklow Brave and Paul Townend on the way to a comfortable victory in the second race of yesterday’s Galway festival. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Wicklow Brave and Paul Townend on the way to a comfortable victory in the second race of yesterday’s Galway festival. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Willie Mullins was in top form with a hat-trick at Galway on day four. He hailed the "unique" Wicklow Brave after he claimed the Guinness Open Gate Brewery Novice Steeplechase to add to his already glittering CV of wins.

Mullins' ten-year-old has already enjoyed a remarkable career, having won the Irish St Leger under Frankie Dettori back in 2016 before winning the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown the following year.

And he has taken to chasing with aplomb, winning on his debut over the bigger obstacles in Ballinrobe in May before following up in a competitive Grade Three at Ballybrit yesterday. And Mullins revealed that 'Wicklow' could be in line for even more glory over fences.

"He's just unique. Nick (Peacock) said to me he'd love to win a Grade One chase with him, so the obvious thing would be the Drinmore, that's the first week in December in Fairyhouse, so that will be his aim.

"We'll see. He was very slick over fences today. Paul (Townend, jockey) said he has a lot more respect for fences than he does hurdles. On one or two of the fences he said if they were hurdles he would have landed in the middle of them, but he backed off and has a lot of respect.

"He is himself at home - we only do with Wicklow what Wicklow wants to do any morning we go out. That's the way he is; if he doesn't want to do the next bit of work that we want him to do, he'll tell you that and we just leave him alone. We got used to him and he has gotten used to us at this stage."

That was the second part of a quick-fire double for Mullins, who also claimed the opening race of the day, the Guinness Beginners Chase of 2m 6f when an absence from the track of two years was no issue for Dandy Mag. The six-year-old hadn't been seen in action since running at Auteuil in June of 2017, a full 781 days ago, but he made light of the absence to score, beating Cheltenham Festival winner Early Doors - which landed the Martin Pipe in March, into second. From Eden came in third and has now placed in all four starts over fences.

"He's not the biggest but being a half sister to Vroom Vroom Mag, jumping comes naturally to him," said winning trainer Mullins.

"David did very well on him and I'm very happy. His owner missed coming over, he was away on business and couldn't get flights this morning. I suppose he only ran at four (years old) but the choice we had was two beginners chases this week, two and a quarter (miles) and two-six, and we'd mark him in for two-six every day of the week. Staying would be his forte."

Waitingfortheday (7/1) overcame a 6lb rise after winning at the Curragh 12 days ago to win for Joseph and Donnacha O'Brien in the Rockshore handicap.

"I got there too soon on her and as she's never going to win too far, it's hard to know how good she is," reflected Donnacha after wining by half a length from Emphatic.

The Arthur Guinness Irish EBF Corrib Fillies Stakes went to Surrounding. The Michael Halford-trained four-year-old won in Group Three company last time out in Fairyhouse and took this race for Michael Halford despite carrying a penalty.

Mullins completed his hat-trick with Foveros in the Novice Hurdle while One Cool Poet won at Ballybrit for the second time this week when he took the Open Gate Pure Brew Handicap.

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