Saturday 21 April 2018

Outlander in the frame for Cheltenham

Outlander and David Mullins after winning the Grade 2 Shannon Airport Novice Chase at Limerick yesterday Photo:Alain Barr
Outlander and David Mullins after winning the Grade 2 Shannon Airport Novice Chase at Limerick yesterday Photo:Alain Barr

Thomas Kelly

Outlander led home stablemate Avant Tout to give Willie Mullins a one-two in the Grade 2 Shannon Airport Novice Chase at Limerick with jockey David Mullins getting the upper hand on his cousin Danny.

Punters were made to sweat somewhat on Outlander, the 1/2 favourite, but David Mullins' mount led at the last before asserting in the closing stages to score by just under two lengths.

Long-time leader Avant Tout, seeking a hat-trick of wins, proved a worthy foe in the hands of Danny Mullins, but he lacked the extra gear of the winner, who was another big-race winner for Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud.

David Mullins, who recorded a double after guiding Liam Burke's Rebel Turn to victory in the Goggin Buckley Handicap Hurdle, said: "He jumps and stays well and went on today's ground, but I think he's better on better.

"When he runs in a more competitive race on better ground he could be an RSA horse and could have a big shout of going to Cheltenham this season."

The seven-year-old, now a Grade 2 winner over hurdles and fences, has been clipped into as low as 14/1 for the Festival with Mullins' remarkable strength in-depth knowing no bounds.

Elsewhere, there was a landmark success for Barry Murphy in the valuable Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase with Pairofbrowneyes.

Ridden by Mikey Fogarty, the 11/2 winner got the better of 4/1 favourite Killer Crow by four lengths to provide Murphy with his first winner, less than a fortnight after getting his training license.

Murphy said: "I'm absolutely thrilled. We fancied him a lot but that's only my third runner and to get my first winner this soon is great. It's a nice way to start because it doesn't usually work like that in this game.

"He's a very progressive horse and his work had been very good.

"I'll take a look and see where we go, but it's great to start off with horses like him and I'd like to say a huge thanks to his owner Leonard Fitzgerald."

Murphy, son of now-retired Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer Ferdy Murphy, could hardly have got off the mark in better fashion and he acknowledged the huge influence his father has on his training career.

"He trained a lot of winners, big winners at the Festivals and it's a big act to follow, big boots to fill but I've learned so much from him," he said.

"He rings me every day to offer advice and I ring him a couple of times a day to ask questions and it's great to have someone with that amount of experience to bounce ideas off."

Murphy, based in Clonroche, Wexford has three horses engaged at Leopardstown today and expects "a big run" from Thekingofrocknroll in the bumper as he searches for winner number two.

Another trainer leaving Limerick happy was Cork-based John Joe Walsh who recorded a 64/1 double via Positive Approach (11/4) and Marygale Bridge (16/1), who took the two maiden hurdles on the card.

Meanwhile, Black Ice (8/1) left all recent form behind him to score by seven lengths under Shane Butler for trainer Seamus Fahey, backing up his win at the track a year ago, while It Came to Pass (5/2 favourite) and Rosie Alice (5-4) took the concluding races for Jim Culloty and Charles Byrnes.

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