Wednesday 21 February 2018

Patrick Mullins: Muthaza is a horse that could be good enough for Cheltenham

'I’m still not sure how Mr Weld emerged as leading trainer with five wins, and I think Dad might have to check with him before racing tonight to find out what the rules are this time!' (File photo)
'I’m still not sure how Mr Weld emerged as leading trainer with five wins, and I think Dad might have to check with him before racing tonight to find out what the rules are this time!' (File photo)

Patrick Mullins

Galway is the biggest week of the summer for us so it is great to finally get going there with a few decent contenders tonight.

Last year, we had our most successful Galway ever, but the rules didn't favour us in the trainers' championship.

Although Dad trained eight winners, to our surprise, the title was decided on a points system, and Dermot Weld prevailed once again.

I'm still not sure how Mr Weld emerged as leading trainer with five wins, and I think Dad might have to check with him before racing tonight to find out what the rules are this time!

We might not have quite as strong a team this year, although Muthaza is potentially very smart. She is probably the best novice hurdler that we are sending to Galway this week.

To be honest, we'd be hoping that she might end up in Cheltenham for the mares' novices' hurdle next March. She was impressive in beating Buyer Beware at Bellewstown and we'll be disappointed if she doesn't do the business in the novices' hurdle.

At Bellewstown, her jumping seemed to improve, so she is learning her job. We sent Long Dog, Bachasson, Gangster and Thomas Hobson to Galway last year and they went on to run at Cheltenham last March, so Dad isn't afraid to run nice horses there.

Muthaza probably isn't a real heavy ground horse, and this is a good opportunity for her. I'd also be hoping that Robin Des Foret might be good enough to win the bumper.

He is a fine big chasing type, and I felt he blew up at Wexford on his debut. A lot of our horses at this time of year seem to come on for their first run, more so than in the winter.

During the winter, many of them would be the type that had run in a point-to-point, and we are able to use schooling bumpers to put the finishing touches on them. We don't do that during the summer, so many of them are having their first racecourse experience.

For that reason, I would be expecting a much improved performance from Robin Des Foret. Wexford is quite a stiff track since they changed to a left-handed circuit, but he had travelled well to two furlongs out.

Sizing Knockeen is the one to beat. He was second to Roconga on his Clonmel bow last year, and the winner is running in the big race tonight off a mark of 83. It was a bumper that worked out well, and, although Sizing Knockeen hasn't been seen for a while, he is obviously a fair sort.

Put it this way, we certainly won't be giving Jamie Codd as much rope on him as we did at Ballinrobe last week, when he stole a bit of a march on us when winning on Antimatter.

I ride Renneti for Dad in the Connacht Hotel Qualified Riders' Handicap. This is a very, very important race to me. My father won it on Pargan for my grandfather in 1985, when he carried 12st 7lb. Unfortunately for me, they don't carry those sorts of weights anymore.

This is the real amateur riders' Derby in this country. It has a lot of history, with Mr Weld and Ruby Walsh also among the famous names to have ridden the winner at some stage.

Winning it is something that I would love to do before I retire. I haven't had much luck in it yet, but hopefully that will change soon.

Renneti has all the ability in the world but he is a bit of a thinker. I remember him planting himself at Fairyhouse once, and we actually had to send the horse box to collect him. He wouldn't go forwards, backwards or sideways! I thought he would have won the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot last season if he had jumped off properly, but he finished third, running on strongly.

Still, he should be fine out of stalls here, although we are drawn wide in 17, which means I will probably have to ride him a little for luck. He is not a horse you could trust, and, on quick ground in a big field around a tight track, he will have to do it the hard way.

It's not impossible, of course, but, if I were to swap him for anything, it would be Weather Watch.

He has a nice weight and ran well at the Curragh, and Kate Harrington rides these big fields very well. She has won this race before, and she has won the Land Rover Bumper and the big ladies' race at Ascot as well.

She is very good at getting into a decent position, and she has a good draw here in stall one. Kate is riding really well this year, so Weather Watch could be the one.

Ted Veale may be favourably enough handicapped to go close in this again, so he might be one for the each-way money.

My nap for the day is Camlann in the handicap hurdle, which will be ridden by Brian Hayes. I live with Brian, who is a very good rider that has enjoyed a great time of things lately with John Kiely. John is a master of his profession, and there is no greater compliment that a jockey can be paid than to be used by him on a regular basis.

Camlann won very well on the Flat at Fairyhouse and is in here off a mark of 100. He looks nicely handicapped over hurdles and Shark's horses are running well, so this fellow is one to keep on side.

In the seven-furlong handicap, I like the look of Gordon Elliott's Siege Of Boston, which is coming back in trip having probably not stayed over further at Hamilton last time.

Siege Of Boston has had three runs for Gordon and looks like one that might have had Galway on the horizon for a while. He doesn't have a bad draw so he should run well for Billy Lee.

In the 12-furlong handicap, I'll stick with Joseph O'Brien's Motherland. Joseph's horses are running brilliantly and this son of Galileo looks to be improving with every run. He is also drawn well and Donnacha O'Brien takes three pounds off, so he has a big chance.

Selections: 5.15 Muthaza; 5.45 Camlann (nap); 6.15 Right Honourable 6.50 Siege Of Boston; 7.20 Weather Watch; 7.50 Motherland; 8.20 Robin Des Foret

Irish Independent

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