Geraghty hopes Blazer can prove right fit for Newbury
Deep ground and Willie Mullins's insatiable form will doubtless have played a part in swaying Barry Geraghty to side with the well-backed Blazer in tomorrow's Betfair Hurdle.
The relentless champion trainer, who has given his brilliant mare Annie Power an entry at Punchestown next week, is responsible for five of the final 22 declarations for the £155,000 two-mile handicap at Newbury.
Geraghty also had five to choose from for his boss JP McManus, and those he has eschewed include the Paul Nicholls-trained Modus, which Blazer overtook at the head of ante-post betting earlier in the week.
Blazer carries a five-pound penalty for his ready triumph in heavy ground on his handicap bow for Mullins at Leopardstown on Saturday. He gets in off just 10st 4lb, and his odds tumbled from 20/1 on Sunday to 7/1 on Monday. He is now 7/2 favourite with the race sponsors to secure a first win for the raiders since Geraghty steered Michael O'Brien's Essex to victory in 2005.
Noel Meade's Waxies Dargle (Jonathan Moore) is another of McManus's, while Mullins also has Dicosimo (Danny Mullins), Kalkir (David Mullins), Ivan Grozny (Mikey Fogarty) and Buiseness Sivola (Sam Twiston-Davies).
Ruby Walsh will stay at home for the Red Mills card at Gowran Park, while Mullins has raised the intriguing prospect of Annie Power having a Cheltenham prep race in a two-and-a-half-mile mares' hurdle at Punchestown on Wednesday.
Yesterday morning, his son Patrick suggested on At The Races that the triple mares' Grade One heroine might be likely to head straight to Cheltenham, confirming that the OLBG Mares' Hurdle there would be the logical target if she weren't to get a run in beforehand.
However, the prospect of Annie Power tackling the Ladbrokes World Hurdle then improved slightly when her name was revealed alongside nine others for Wednesday's €20,000 contest. "She's in good form and working nicely at home," the Closutton genius said. "We've given her the entry, so we'll see how everything goes between now and then."
Mullins has also entered Morning Run, Petit Parisienne and Whiteout in the race, but Annie Power would be 17lbs and more clear on ratings were she to run. Jarlath Fahey's Jennies Jewel, second to Vroum Vroum Mag at Ascot recently, is also engaged.
Meanwhile, a replacement Limerick fixture has been pencilled in for Thursday, March 10 after Wednesday's rescheduled card was cancelled due to waterlogging. l Today is the final day for entries to this year's Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards. Anyone in the racing and breeding industry can make a submission and forms are available on www.goracing.ie. Entries close at 5pm.