Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 17 August 2019

Patrick Mullins: 'We'll find out today if Great Field or Footpad have ability to dethrone Altior'

 

Final-flight heartbreak: Bryan Cooper takes a crashing fall from Coeur Sublime at the last as Rocky Blue ridden by David Mullins (right) races clear of the last on the way to winning the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Final-flight heartbreak: Bryan Cooper takes a crashing fall from Coeur Sublime at the last as Rocky Blue ridden by David Mullins (right) races clear of the last on the way to winning the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Patrick Mullins

Speed is only enough as long as you're in control, the chief test driver at motorsport giants Ferrari once said. Control at speed is the key.

A potent mix of raw speed and knife-edge steeplechasing will be needed to triumph in the Grade One two-mile chase today.

The back straight in Leopardstown, with its four fences and two ditches, provides a suitably quickfire test of a thoroughbred's ability to jump five-foot fences at 40mph carrying 12 stone of flesh, leather and lead at pinpoint accuracy.

The pace will be frantic. Great Field, which races like the hounds of hell are catching his tail, has never been caught when he's stood up.

However, today he will be chased by Footpad and his mixture of dark and light green silks have never failed to pass those in front of him, at least when he too has completed the course. Steeplechasing at speed is fraught with dangers.

It is hard to split our two. Both have been exceptional in their own way.

Barry Geraghty. Photo: Caroline Norris
Barry Geraghty. Photo: Caroline Norris

Footpad looked awesome all last season and we believe an early slip in his last race caused a small injury that affected his usually exemplary fencing thereafter.

He has schooled and worked well since and Qasim Raza, who rides him every day at home, feels he is 100pc again.

Last season we dreamt he could go all the way. Today will tell us if we were dreaming or not.

Great Field is an unusual horse. Tall and leggy with a long neck and a peculiar shaped head, he covers immense ground with his raking stride. He could get a role in a 'Jurassic Park' re-make.

His jumping is of his own style. When he is right, he takes lengths out of his opponents.

When he is wrong, he takes years off the lives of some of those watching. Entertaining is the word those of us on the ground use.

He has never been caught when standing up and we do not yet know the depths of his ability.

Altior, unbeaten in a record 15 jumping starts, stands supreme across this speed-chasing division.

We need a contender to his crown. Today will tell us if we have one. They can't finish in a heap if we are to think one can challenge the imperious Altior.

What we need is a clear winner. It is a race that promises to entertain and enlighten.

The Grade One Novice Hurdle appears wide open. We run two, Aramon and Sancta Simona.

Preference

Aramon is a horse who goes well at home and will run well but my preference is for the mare.

Sancta is a huge, eye-catching mare, with a temper to match, which needs nice ground.

Twice she was beaten on tacky, old ground; once in Thurles and once on the last day of Listowel.

Her wheels get stuck in it, like a Porsche Carrera going off-road. However, on fresh ground she is a different beast.

I think she can take this prize as long as Leopardstown's anti-drone system is working effectively.

The Paddy Power Chase needs Hercule Poirot to find the winner but I feel Minella Beau will like the ground, stay the trip and sneaks in at the bottom of the weights as an unexposed novice at a big price.

He's had two big handicaps to learn in recently and he could put it all together today.

The bumper is a tricky affair. Many a diamond has been unearthed in this one, but I do like my strangely named K'chou Du Pecos AA.

He is a gelding by Walk In The Park, the sire of Douvan and Min, which does things nicely at home.

He is a relaxed individual, which is what you need for this 2m4f distance.

Patrick's Picks

Sancta Simona 1.50 Leopardstown

Minella Beau e/w 3.00 Leopardstown

K'chou Du Pecos AA 3.30 L'town

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