Friday 23 August 2019

Leopardstown to benefit as Coneygree fails to get entry for Kempton feature

Max Dynamite (No.8) will aim to go one better in 2016 after chasing home Prince Of Penzance in this year’s Melbourne Cup
Max Dynamite (No.8) will aim to go one better in 2016 after chasing home Prince Of Penzance in this year’s Melbourne Cup

Richard Forristal

Mark Bradstock's wife Sara has admitted that Coneygree's surprise absence from the King George VI Chase entries was as a result of an administrative blunder, but Leopardstown could now be the benefactor.

"I'm afraid we can't blame anyone but ourselves," she said of the error.

"Mark was doing the computer entries last week and I think he must have pushed the wrong button. As I keep telling people, we're good with horses, but not so good at IT!"

The Gold Cup hero is due to reappear at Sandown on Sunday en route to the Hennessy, and Leopardstown's Lexus Chase could yet be on his agenda.

"He'll run on Sunday and then, all going well, he'll go to the Hennessy and then if we felt supplementing for the King George was the right thing to do, we'll do it.


"It might not matter as if we're going to take on horses like Vautour, I think we'd want to do it when there is more of an emphasis on stamina. We might look at the Lexus instead."

Undeterred by a defeat that could be safely placed in the "what might have been" category, Willie Mullins has declared that another Melbourne Cup foray will take priority for Max Dynamite in 2016.

Having watched Holy Orders finish unplaced in 2003, the champion jumps trainer went closer in 2013 when Simenon ran a gallant fourth in the Flemington showpiece.

This time, Max Dynamite earned around Aus$900,000 when grabbing an honourable second under Frankie Dettori, who incurred the wrath of the stewards for his efforts in extracting himself from behind a wall of horses in the straight.

Dettori was handed a month-long ban and fined Aus$20,000, but Mullins remains magnanimous in defeat despite the sense that Max Dynamite might have plundered a famous victory had he enjoyed a clearer passage. Of course, the outcome was historic, given Michelle Payne's landmark triumph aboard the 100/1 outsider Prince Of Penzance.

"We're delighted - we cashed a good cheque," said Mullins. "I'm delighted for Michelle and (her brother and the winner's groom) Steve Payne. It was a great story - a wonderful race and a wonderful day."

Looking ahead to next year for Max Dynamite, which was having just its third Flat start for Mullins after finishing second in the Northumberland Plate and winning the Lonsdale Cup, having run second in the Galway Hurdle in between, Mullins indicated that the $6.2m Grade One would be high on the agenda.

"I wouldn't have any fears about him coming back on firm ground," he said of the five-year-old. "Our main plan for next season would be the Ascot Gold Cup, the Melbourne Cup and one or two races in between.

"You must remember that this guy was training for jumping all winter and it was an afterthought to come Flat racing. Next season the Ascot Gold Cup and the Melbourne Cup will be our main aim."

When it was put to him that he was getting closer to the big prize, Mullins responded: "That's right. This fellow has more potential for improvement, I think, at his age."

The Closutton genius has been slow to commit to concrete early plans for his elite jumpers due to the relative lack of rainfall.

He opted to not put anything in the Betfair Chase, and, while neither do any of the marquee names appear in next Thursday's Clonmel Oil Chase, he has put in three bona fide winter campaigners in Twinlight, Felix Yonger and Gitane Du Berlais.

As had been flagged, Noel Meade has given Road To Riches an entry in the Grade Two, and the prospect of Mullins's Vroum Vroum Mag appearing in the Grade Three Mares' Chase on the same card ahead of her intended Hennessy Gold Cup tilt could be another boon for the fixture.

Irish Independent

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