Mullins planning Ryanair assault for Golden Silver
Golden Silver will continue to be aimed at prizes on the home front rather than tackling the top two-milers again in Cheltenham's Queen Mother Champion Chase, although the French import could yet represent champion trainer Willie Mullins there in the Ryanair Chase.
After seeing his hotpot work hard to catch and pass Rubi Light in yesterday's Normans Grove Chase at Fairyhouse, Mullins remarked: "Only his rating (166) got him through after Rubi Light (143) went so far ahead. Golden Silver is not a horse to chase one in front -- ideally he would prefer to be towed into his races.
"But he's a winter horse and goes to Punchestown in a fortnight for the Tied Cottage along with J'y Vole and Scotsirish. We'll try to win what we can with him here before Cheltenham, where he may go for the Ryanair as he's about 10lb below the best two-milers."
The very heavy going on which Paul Townend reported that the nine-year-old was never happy was partly to blame, at least according to Mullins, for the defeat of Sous Les Cieux by 33/1 outsider Bayross on his Irish debut in the opening maiden hurdle.
Townend's mount was clearly struggling to up the tempo from two out as Andrew Lynch drove John Larkin's previous Down Royal bumper victor to a clear-cut success over the market principal and Lord Redsgirth to book a likely trip to England.
However, the Closutton yard still landed a short-priced double as Bandon point-to-point winner Lovethehigherlaw made a smooth transition to bumper company for Mullins and his son Patrick, thereby completing a treble for champion owner Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud.
This was the second time in eight days that big-spending O'Leary's maroon and white colours were successful three times at the same Irish meeting, and all from different stables, after his Punchestown breakthrough last Saturday week. A son of Presenting, Lovethehigherlaw will probably skip the Cheltenham Festival in favour of the Grade One equivalent at Punchestown in May.
O'Leary's retained professional rider Davy Russell had initiated the rapid three-timer in the previous hour when guiding both the Paul Nolan-trained Sam Adams and Beautiful Sound from Gordon Elliott's local outfit to clinical victories over fences.
Our Girl Salley and Barry Geraghty maintained their winning sequences in the mares novice hurdle, though it wasn't plain sailing for the daughter of Carroll House thanks to a gritty display by 20/1 long shot Belle Brook. Seemingly in control on the stands side early in the straight, the odds-on favourite needed to be driven out by Geraghty to edge out Belle Brook under Russell.
After this pair finished nicely clear of the remainder, Geraghty, who was following up trebles at Huntingdon on Friday and at Kempton, felt that the combination of a proper gallop and very testing conditions didn't play to the hotpot's strengths.
"Our Girl Salley travelled well to the straight off a better gallop than we went the last day at Leopardstown but didn't pick up as good. Probably looser ground would help her," he said as Prunella Dobbs outlined future plans for her stable star.
"We'll move forward now to a similar type of race back here next month. Then we would be looking at Cheltenham where she will be entered in the novice hurdles as well as the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle," the Wicklow trainer explained.
Tipperary trainer-jockey Denis Hogan maintained his good strike-rate when forcing Drive On Jim past Supreme Builder after a gruelling duel for the Tote Handicap Hurdle prize.