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Mullins eyes Ulster National prize


Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: PA

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: PA

PA Images

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: PA

Ifyoucatchmenow bids to plunder her second valuable prize of the year in today's Randox Ulster National. The Grand National at Aintree might have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it is full steam ahead for the Northern Irish version at Downpatrick.

Ifyoucatchmenow represents the formidable combination of Willie Mullins and Paul Townend ­- and appears to hold strong claims as she bids to follow up her triumph in the €100,000 Grand National Trial at Punchestown last month.

"She's a good mare, who tries very hard and the step up in trip the last day looked to reveal her potential," said the seven-year-old's owner, David Dunsdon. Gordon Elliott is well represented, saddling six runners as he bids to add to the recent triumphs of Riverside City (2015) and Poormans Hill (2018) in the extended three-and-a-half-mile contest.

Poormans Hill is back for another go under Kevin Brogan, but has plenty to prove after some disappointing efforts. Rachael Blackmore keeps the ride on Cheb De Kerviniou after the pair were second in the Leinster National at Naas a fortnight ago, while 7lb claimer Gavin Brouder is on Gun Digger following their recent success at Leopardstown.

Former Irish Grand National winner General Principle (Seán O'Keeffe), Out Sam (Jamie Codd) - third in the Glenfarclas cross-country Chase at Cheltenham last week - and Its All Guesswork (Davy Russell) complete the Elliott sextet.

Tipperary-based trainer Leslie Young has high hopes for the veteran Cappacurry Zak. Since finishing second in successive point-to-points in the autumn, the 11-year-old has won two of his three starts, most recently landing a veterans chase at Navan.

"He's 11 now, but he's probably better than he's ever been," said Young. "He's on a career-high mark of 124. It looks a competitive race all right, but after the way he won the last day he's entitled to have a crack at it. He's well able to handle soft to heavy ground if it stays that way, although it is drying out here at the moment."

Meanwhile, Zero Ten landed the feature race at Thurles, the Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase, after an eventful race. Trained by Emmet Mullins and ridden by his cousin David, Zero Ten travelled well throughout in the Grade Three.

"It's great, he jumped around and put it back together again," said Mullins. "Fingers crossed, now we can keep it going and he could have a nice finish off to the back of the season as a novice.

"It's a great race to win with the Mullinses being so close to the Molonys over the years. It's a proud moment."

Lorna Fowler appears to have a smart mare on her hands in Politesse, who ran out a ready winner of the Adare Manor Opportunity Maiden Hurdle.

Following a small delay to racing due to an administrative error regarding the published weights, the contest finally got underway and Politesse, who was a bumper winner last time out, was always in the right position under Conor Orr.

She pulled away to beat odds-on favourite Fakiera by two and three-quarter lengths at 9-4. Fowler, a former racing television presenter, only trains a small string at her base in Meath and was thrilled to get another winner on the board.

"I'm absolutely delighted. She came out of her bumper no problem and, to be honest, it didn't take very much out of her," said Fowler.

"She's done a lot of schooling, I didn't know if inexperience would tell today, but I think what she's shown today is that she is very talented.

"She's over hurdles now, she's won, and she has her novice status until the Hatton's Grace meeting.

"I'm very, very lucky to have her and I know that. On everything she's shown us so far, I think we can be a little bit ambitious with her."

Thermistocles won a competitive Horse & Jockey Beginners Chase for Joseph O'Brien and JJ Slevin.

Sunday Indo Sport