Wednesday 21 November 2018

Patrick Mullins - Total Recall has qualities needed to heal scars of 2002 in one of the greatest races


Total Recall, pictured here in the Coral Leopardstown Handicap Chase in January, has a perfect weight for today’s big race. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Total Recall, pictured here in the Coral Leopardstown Handicap Chase in January, has a perfect weight for today’s big race. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Patrick Mullins

Today sees the rebirth of the Hennessy Gold Cup as the Ladbrokes Trophy. This unforgiving three-and-a-quarter mile test is one of the most renowned prizes in the steeplechasing calendar. From its harsh furnace has emerged some of the sport's true greats, in the truest sense of the word.

It is a prestigious race that unashamedly celebrates that for which this sport was created for - the old-fashioned, brave staying chaser. It demands horses not only to be better than its rivals, but to also look the handicapper squarely in the eye and say, "is that all you thought of me?"

The black-and-white TV generation still speak with awe and wonder of the fabled Mandarin's two victories and Mill House's false dawn before Arkle's back-to-back successes, with the mere burden of 12st 7lbs both times.


Twice with top weight, Denman demolished his adversaries without mercy for the social media generation to see, upload and tweet about.

His scarcely credible performance in 2009, defying not only 18 challengers but a mark of 174, is the closest we've seen to an Arklonian feat in modern times.

In Closutton we have unfinished business at Newbury. In 2002, Be My Royal gritted his way to victory with David Casey for us but lost the race afterwards due to a batch of contaminated feed caused from poppy seeds that affected several trainers in England and Ireland.

Add to that the fact that the Irish haven't won this race since Bright Highway in 1980 and you can see there is an itch to scratch with regards to this old and famous race.

We have sent over Hedgehunter and Djakadam, two Gold Cup horses masquerading as handicappers, to right the wrong but both played the part too well and we still haven't mastered this elusive thriller.

This November we send two horses to try and wrest honour and glory off the English.

Total Recall is the one on everyone's lips. The pigeons around Carlow appear to have Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat!

He pulverised the field in the Munster National, looking like a horse for whom the sky could be the limit.

However, the handicapper has reacted accordingly to try and make him another Icarus. He is now 18lbs higher than his Limerick stroll so he will need to forge a performance of a whole new nature to succeed once again.

But with the second horse in Limerick, Alpha Des Obeaux, coming out and winning the Clonmel Oil Chase afterwards, it appears there is sound reason to think that he can step up to the task.

With former Gold Cup winner Coneygree standing his ground under the welter burden of 11-12 and bravely bidding to carve his name into the celebrated roll of honour, Total Recall carries only 10st 8lb, a perfect racing weight.


He is an improving horse, who has shown he can handle the red-hot fire of a competitive handicap chase, has a run under his belt, should stay the trip and handle the ground.

With Ruby sidelined with his broken leg, Paul Townend takes the ride and I think he can finally help heal the wounds and scars of 2002.

David Mullins rides our other contender. Pleasant Company is another who has won a valuable staying handicap chase for us, at a Punchestown Festival.

He is a strong traveller who jumps well and I think there is a big handicap in England within his grasp, but I fear the lack of a run might tell against him - as it did for Djakadam and Hedgehunter.

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