Sunday 23 September 2018

List form gets boost for Trial run

Joseph O’Brien and Derek O’Connor celebrate Edwulf’s victory last month
Joseph O’Brien and Derek O’Connor celebrate Edwulf’s victory last month

Fergus McDonnell

If last weekend's Dublin Racing Festival had been one of those glittering awards ceremonies so beloved of the film industry, then the array of stars which graced the red carpet would have left no celebrity-watcher disappointed.

Faugheen's failure to fully exorcise the ghost of Christmas just past was disappointing for his connections and many supporters, and to be beaten by Supasundae, a horse whose trainer Jessica Harrington freely admitted was having a prep run for the Stayers' at Cheltenham, must have hurt even more.

Impressive performances from Min, Footpad and Blackbow - Patricks Park completed a four-timer - would have eased the pain of Faugheen and Yorkhill somewhat for trainer Willie Mullins.

Samcro and Monalee gave the crowd plenty to drool over on Sunday, even if Michael O'Leary insists on not getting too excited about Samcro until he wins "a proper race" - which he explained means jumping fences rather than hurdles.

But if Hollywood loves a comeback against all the odds story, then the star of Sunday's show was Edwulf as the chaser, almost lost forever at Cheltenham last March, returned to claim the Unibet Irish Gold Cup under Derek O'Connor.

It was also, of course, a stunning training performance from Joseph O'Brien and heart-warming in the way it was greeted by owner JP McManus, proving, if proof were needed, that there is much more to horse racing than prize money.

That win may also give us a clue to the outcome of today's BoyleSports Grand National Trial at Punchestown, for which the sponsors are putting up €100,000. Mullins sends out two hopefuls in the shape of Childrens List and Isleofhopendreams.

Childrens List returns after a break, but actually beat Edwulf over 3m1f off level weights at Punchestown last season. "That form looks a lot better after last Sunday," wrote Mullins in his Racing Post column yesterday. "He's a sound jumper and we're looking forward to getting him back on track."

The Noel Meade-trained Road To Riches heads the weights in the 20-strong field but it's nearly three years since he claimed third place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and his best days may be behind him.

Gordon Elliott saddles Thyestes Chase third Space Cadet, fifth-placed Woods Well and the sixth home Out Sam, as well as Folsom Blue, which looked good at Sandown last weekend over hurdles.

Liz Doyle, who sent out Last Goodbye to win the Chanelle Pharma Handicap Chase at Leopardstown last Sunday, is hoping for a good run from Without Limites, which looks well placed off 10st 7lb. "He's in good form and he has a lot less weight on his back than the last day, which is a help," said Doyle.

Davy Russell will partner the favourite Mall Dini.

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