Sunday 26 May 2019

Patrick Mullins: 'I wanted to hit something, hit it hard and not stop until I was too tired to think'

Sharjah ridden by Patrick Mullins (right) and Real Steel ridden by Paul Townend both fall at the last. Photo: PA Wire
Sharjah ridden by Patrick Mullins (right) and Real Steel ridden by Paul Townend both fall at the last. Photo: PA Wire

Patrick Mullins

They don't have punch-bags in the weigh-room, which is a pity. It's hard to walk back in and just watch the replay, curse your luck, accept the condolences and sit down quietly. I wanted to hit something, hit it hard and not stop until I was too tired to think.

Sharjah had given me a pitch-perfect ride, settling and jumping well, holding his position when Barry Geraghty tried to take our ground after the third, missing Mengali Khan when he had ducked out at the penultimate flight and cruised past Real Steel on the way to the last.

I kept the revs up going to the last, with a slap down the shoulder and keeping my legs squeezed and a perfect stride appeared. The split second we left the ground though, I realised we weren't going to make it.

There was a shadow on the last and I think he measured it, rather than the hurdle, a la Annie Power. It can happen, it was nobody's fault and other horses jumped it fine. That is jump racing.

When I was younger, I tended to dwell on these things. Watch the replay again and again. I came to realise it was pointless. What has happened has happened. Take a lesson from it if you can and move on.

Win or lose, it's the next race that matters more than the last. Kipling spoke correctly of Triumph and Disaster and I decided to follow his advice a while ago.

The start to Yorkhill's season has been like the opening scene of 'Once Upon A Time in the West'. The characters involved saying nothing, the suspense unfolding ever so slowly and everyone wondering what the hell is going to happen when the harmonica stops playing. Hurdles or fences? Two miles or three?

Now, like watching a lone gun-slinger with no name riding into a dusty town deep into a Sergio Leone Western, you know shots are about to be fired. The suspense is going to scream to a stop.

Yorkhill goes chasing. He goes three-mile chasing. And he takes on the Gold Cup winner straight up. No beating around the bush, it's a final-scene Mexican stand-off right away. Someone has to lose.

Sizing John is the reigning Gold Cup winner. He is brilliant. He is straightforward. He jumps (both ways), he settles, he does everything he's asked for and more. He's unbeaten at this three-mile trip. He is the perfect steeple-chasing thoroughbred.

Yorkhill, on the other hand, has that captivating Clint Eastwood twist. He doesn't do right-handed. He can settle, but only if he feels like it.

He jumps, but often not straight. He does what he wants, when he wants, how he wants. Just the same as Eastwood's anti-heroes, you're never sure what Yorkhill is going to do. He has the ability to do good, but there's that wild streak of bad that made Eastwood's characters so alluring.

While I think Yorkhill has the talent to win a Gold Cup, today is a huge ask. It's his seasonal debut, his first try outside novice company and his first attempt at three miles (which his pedigree says he will get, his second dam bred The Listener).

He has to face not only the Gold Cup winner but other experienced and race-fit rivals like Outlander, Valseur Lido and Road to Respect, not to mention Djakadam.

Djakadam ran flat on his return to action and I would expect him to improve considerably today. Perhaps as he gets older he needs more work. He will again be bang in the mix.

Before that, Nichols Canyon goes in search of revenge against Apple's Jade. The mare brushed him aside easily over 2m4f in Fairyhouse. I don't believe we saw the best of Nichols Canyon in Fairyhouse and I would expect him to narrow the gap today, however I think it will be very hard to beat the mare. She is like the Dickens 'Ghost of Christmas Past', always coming back to haunt us since she left, to show us what we lost.


Francin (12.15)

Voix Des Tiep (2.25)

Epicuris (2.45, Limerick)

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