Saturday 25 November 2017

Mullins holds aces for Troytown

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

WILLIE MULLINS, who crowned a remarkable week that yielded 13 winners with a brilliant four-timer at Punchestown last Sunday, again looks to have a potent hand in this weekend's Troytown Chase at Navan.

The champion trainer (pictured) is responsible for four of the 31 entries in the valuable handicap, three of which were among a quartet of joint-favourites quoted at 10/1 by the race sponsors Ladbrokes yesterday evening.

Some Target, second on his seasonal bow over hurdles at Clonmel, is one of the ante-post market leaders. Quiscover Fontaine and Prince De Beauchene are the other two.

A winner at Aintree for Howard Johnson in April, the Graham Wylie-owned Prince De Beauchene is a new recruit to Mullins' all-conquering team.

The fourth horse sharing favouritism is the Christy Roche-trained Groody Hill. A rapidly improving sort, the JP McManus-owned five-year-old landed a major gamble when scoring the first of two facile victories at Punchestown last month.

Also engaged is Peter Casey's Jack The Bus, which hasn't run since taking the same race under Alan Crowe 12 months ago.

The Grade Two Irish Form Book Novice Hurdle on the same card promises to be hugely informative, with Mount Benbulben, Sword Of Destiny, Texas Jack and Rebel Fitz among nine classy entries, while the beginners' chase could be of equal interest.

Sir Des Champs, a last-gasp winner at Cheltenham in March for Mullins, is a potential runner in that, though he is also in at Gowran Park 24 hours earlier.

Saturday's main event is Newbury's Hennessy Gold Cup, and Paul Nolan yesterday admitted to having reservations as to whether his intended runner Joncol, so impressive at Thurles recently, would cope with the likely better ground at the Berkshire venue than he is accustomed to here.

"At the moment the intention is to travel and I'm just hoping they get the bit of rain that's forecast. As long as the ground is good to soft I think he'll take his chance." said Nolan. "It will be interesting to see how he handles it as it will be the first time he's run on a bit of nice ground.

"We've missed the Punchestown Festival for the last couple of years because the ground has been drying out, but at least at this time of year it should not be drying out too much.

"We won't really know how he handles it until we have a go. Hopefully he can prove he's not a total mudlark, but obviously the more rain they get the better.

"He did it very nicely at Thurles the last day and should improve on that as he had a good blow afterwards. Barry Geraghty will ride him on Saturday, which is great news, so we're looking forward to it."

Paul Nicholls, who is responsible for the Hennessy favourite Aiteen Thirtythree (6/1), has confirmed that Noel Fehily will ride on the long-absent Michel Le Bon in the race.

An 8/1 shot, Michel Le Bon cantered up on its sole chasing start at Newbury when he last ran two years ago.

Pandorama, pulled up in the 2010 Hennessy prior to landing the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, has been ruled out for the season by Noel Meade in recent days after failing to recover from a tendon injury that he sustained when finishing seventh in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the reason Kieren Fallon arrived late to Chester in May was because he'd diverted to a police station to undergo a voluntary breath test.

Jockeys on duty at the Cheshire venue were being breathalysed, and the Clare native was fined £3,140 on Monday for misleading the stewards as to why he missed his first two rides. He said that he was stuck in traffic and his mobile phone had run out of power.

His solicitor Christopher Stewart-Moore revealed: "Kieran presented himself at the police station because he'd had a few drinks the night before and wanted to be sure where he stood.

"He wasn't driving, but if he had been over the limit when he took a test under racing's rules, he could have been banned."

Irish Independent

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