Saturday 26 May 2018

Bacardys will put it up to Penhill

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Racing Post
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Racing Post

Patrick Mullins

The Stayers Hurdle today is a mouthwatering race which promises to be an absolute cracker.

There are 10 Grade One winners in the line-up, including four previous Cheltenham winners.

Willie is throwing everything at this race and we need to get a result here to keep the championship hopes alive. This is one of the four marquee races with huge prize money and they are the key to winning the title.

Faugheen was spectacular here when he won the Morgiana on his seasonal debut. However, he hasn't been the same since. We hope that the step up to three miles and the return to where he won earlier in the season can revitalise him.

We have changed Yorkhill's training at home and perhaps that will bring a change in his desperate form this season. He has won twice at this track even though he jumps left.

Masterclass

Penhill looks the one to beat after his masterclass performance in Cheltenham under Paul Townend.

That race turned into a four-furlong sprint which suited him but he had won a fast-run Albert Bartlett at the Festival the year before so he is adaptable pace-wise.

The two concerns are that elusive "bounce" factor and the fact that he was beaten in Punchestown last year. Nevertheless, Penhill sets the standard.

I'm really looking forward to Bacardys though. He has been a superstar for me, winning two Grade Ones and a Grade Two at Aintree.

The Stayers' Hurdle in Cheltenham was run unexpectedly slowly and it didn't suit us. However, we would have been a good third only for him stumbling after the last and coming down.

His groom Imran Haider thinks he is in fantastic form and I genuinely think he can get a lot closer to Penhill than he would have been at Cheltenham.

Footpad takes centre stage in the novice chase. He had a few easy days after a bad scope before Aintree but Qasim Raza, who rides him out, is happy with him since.

His form is head and shoulders above the rest and hopefully he can close out his foot-perfect season with a fifth win from five runs.

Gordon Elliott, astoundingly, has no runner in this race so Saturnas and Asthuria need to pick up plenty of prize money too.

The mare looks over-priced to me after failing to stay 2m 4f in Fairyhouse on heavy ground. Today's test will be much more to her liking.

I chose Getareason over Rio Vivas in the bumper. Rio has the much stronger form, the second and third from his Navan victory have both won since despite being beaten 10 lengths by him, but I like Getareason.

He was very green in Downpatrick and didn't handle the track at all. He won with more in hand than the bare result suggests.

I think he has more gears than Rio which on this track and ground is important. I wouldn't bet my last euro that I'm right, though!

Patrick's Picks

5.30 Penhill

6.40 Footpad

7.45 Getareason

Townend shows his true class

Yesterday was an extraordinary day that will live long in the memory. It was breathtaking how everything fell into place.

I took great pleasure in seeing Patrick's Park win as myself and my friend Paul Byrne sourced him at small money - just like True Self.

You don't need to be a millionaire to have winners here, as much as it does help.

My father deserves immense credit for how he keeps these horses fresh throughout the season. But the star of the show was Paul Townend.

The mental strength he showed to come out and ride a treble just a day after his unfortunate incident was nothing short of incredible.

This sport, like life, can have crushing lows and you have to be able to surf them.

Paul did that with aplomb yesterday.

We lead the title race now but you have to be in front at the finish line, so we won't be taking our eye off the ball.

Irish Independent

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