Mullins chasing more success with Supreme
Willie Mullins showed yesterday at Limerick that his horses are finding form and his Morning Supreme will look to continue that trend at Thurles this afternoon.
The champion trainer is keeping his fingers crossed that his seven-year-old mare will make a winning debut over the larger obstacles. A winner of three of her four starts over timber, she lost her unbeaten record against For Bill at Fairyhouse in April and now returns to action in the opening Beginners Chase.
"She was never a great jumper of hurdles and she has a very quick style of racing, so we've decided to go chasing with her," said Mullins.
"She races very quick and if she takes to fences well, she'll be something to look forward to. If not, we'll go back over hurdles, but she'll go on the ground."
Smart novice hurdler The Hurl looks Morning Supreme's biggest danger, but the Mullins mare should oblige if jumping proficiently. Stablemate Ballyhaunis is another that is likely to attract plenty interest in the Clonoulty Hurdle.
The five-year-old looked a smart prospect at Listowel and he should have too much class for his rivals.
The Closutton handler will be hoping to finish the day on a high, with Popcorn likely to go off favourite in the concluding Liscahill INH Flat Race.
This French-bred gelding has only been seen once, when he finished just over four lengths behind unbeaten Grade Three winner Hidden Cyclone at Gowran in April, and that form should be good enough.
The Bull Hayes sets the standard in the Cahir Maiden Hurdle, but Noel Meade's London Bridge and the Colm Murphy-trained Optimal Power were decent performers on the Flat, while Tallow point-to-point winner Four Commanders is worth keeping an eye on for future reference.
Another winner from the 'point' field, Sizing Mexico, should have conditions to his liking in the staying novice hurdle and Henry de Bromhead's charge can prevail at the main expense of Gran Torino.
Mullins, meanwhile, saw Quel Esprit make an impressive chasing debut at Limerick yesterday. The grey had been off the track since the second of his two quick appearances at Cheltenham in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle, but was still backed into 2/5 (from 1/2) for the closing beginners' chase.
Always racing prominently for Paul Townend, Quel Esprit and main market rival Torphichen stormed clear of the field leaving the back straight. The latter was outjumped over the final two fences by Quel Esprit, which secured a comfortable success.
Team Mullins also struck in the bumper with Quaquo De Flotte (10/11), which was produced with a well-timed run by the trainer's son Patrick.
Philip Fenton's Pineau De Re (9/2) made a triumphant return after a 926-day absence to be a smooth winner of the Christmas Festival Maiden Hurdle.
Davy Russell took the jockey honours with a near 33/1 double on Knockfierna in the mares' maiden hurdle for Charles Byrnes and on Liam Burke's Theresathingwrong (8/1) in the handicap chase.