Sunday 18 March 2018

Listen Dear to help Mullins ease back into action

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

October was a distinctly quiet month for Willie Mullins, something of a calm before the storm.

Just 17 runners represented the stable over jumps last month but things will heat up from now on and Listen Dear should get the champion trainer off the mark for November in Thurles' opening mares' chase.

Remarkably, the ground remains good at Thurles and even that is nothing compared to Taunton. Officials there had to cancel next Thursday's meet because "hard" is in the going description!

Ruby Walsh rides the six-year-old Listen Dear, which could hardly have been more impressive on her chase debut at Ballinrobe, embracing tearaway tactics that have served her so well so far. This should be pretty straightforward, her one-time stablemate Monbeg Rose taken to chase her home.

Mullins is gradually trying to readjust after the buzz of the Melbourne Cup earlier this week, though his runner - Wicklow Brave - ran out of steam after attempting to stick with the pace despite the worst of the draw.

The Ballagh Mares Handicap Hurdle is the race of the day, with The Fitz Lady put in as favourite in the overnight wagering. However, Concience ought to give her plenty to think about under Shane Crimin for veteran trainer Dessie McDonogh.

The lively terrain seems to be keeping better horses away and this is a pretty ordinary card. The staying maiden chase is modest and Coolmill may be able to dictate under Lenny Flynn.

The mares' maiden hurdle is also up for grabs and a chance is taken on Red Pearl. She has yet to build on her bumper win in a manner in keeping with her potential but she is pretty solid and rated 108.

Dounikos is the latest example of the ephemeral Ruby Walsh-Gigginstown-Gordon Elliott alliance in the staying maiden hurdle and he should be up to winning a race such as this. However, the Toomevara-based Hows Patsy was put in at 5/1 last evening and that is very appealing each-way.

The remarkable Marshim, which turns 15 in less than two months' time, carries top weight in the two-mile handicap hurdle. Omega Springs seems sure to go off favourite but Free Scorpion may be able to keep up the good recent work of both trainer Michael Hourigan and the somewhat maligned sire, Scorpion.

Hardline amounts to a saving of the best till last, getting the nap vote in the finale. He was a little unlucky in running at Fairyhouse under Nina Carberry, who now switches to Mr Showtime for her boss Noel Meade. It could be between the pair.

Irish Independent

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