Monday 21 January 2019

Mullins' star to relish slog

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: PA
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: PA

Graham Clark

Connections of Kate Appleby Shoes expect testing conditions to be in her favour in the Coolmore National Hunt Sires Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase at Thurles today.

Having made a winning debut over fences at Limerick last month, the nine-year-old will now attempt to give trainer Willie Mullins back-to-back victories in the Grade Two after Westerner Lady struck 12 months ago.

"It looks a very competitive race with Jessica Harrington having two in there [Girly Girl and Magic Of Light] and Dinaria Des Obeaux getting weight as a five-year-old," said assistant trainer Patrick Mullins.

"She will love that ground and we expect her jumping to have sharpened up from her debut run. With a clear round, she should be up there getting some more black type.

"It really was a war of attrition at Limerick. She was a little cautious early on there, but she soon warmed up and that experience will have helped bring her on. She is probably the biggest mare we have in the yard and she is not easy to train, but when we get her to the track she has been performing."

Roger McGrath feels the chances of Miss Eyecatcher claiming a third win over fences have been compromised by heavy ground. He said: "She is in good form, but the ground is not ideal. You will see the best of her on better ground. It is such a tempting prize and there is great money on offer, so we have to take our chance.

"There are only five in the chase before so hopefully the ground won't be cut up to bad. She is a lovely mare to have and we will give it a go. If we get in the frame that would be good."

The field is completed by Mill Quest, Robbina and Youcantcallherthat. Mouse Morris feels the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles is the ideal starting point for the long-absent Nambour. The eight-year-old, one of two runners for Gigginstown House Stud along with the Gordon Elliott-trained A Toi Phil, will make his first racecourse appearance in 427 days.

Despite having a lengthy absence to overcome, the Fethard handler is optimistic his charge can resume his progression and provide him with a first win in the two-and-a-half-mile Grade Three.

"He has had a long time off since the last time he ran, but he is well," said Morris. "Hopefully he is well treated by the conditions of the race and hopefully he will run a big race. He was very progressive and is a lovely horse. He is a super jumper."

Connections of the Willie Mullins-trained American Tom admit they are taking a step into the "unknown" as the lightly raced seven-year-old tries the trip for the first time. The Rich Ricci-owned gelding, who has been restricted to just five career starts, finished a creditable third at the same level over two miles on his return to action at Naas in November.

Vincent Halley has his eye on a potential tilt at next month's Unibet Irish Gold Cup should Grade Two-winning chaser Arctic Skipper make an encouraging enough return on his first start in 389 days.

Jessica Harrington will rely upon Woodland Opera.

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