Saturday 20 October 2018

Patrick Mullins: 'Bow' selection can see me smiling

Sceaux sweet: Patrick Mullins celebrates after riding Un De Sceaux to victory at Punchestown yesterday. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Sceaux sweet: Patrick Mullins celebrates after riding Un De Sceaux to victory at Punchestown yesterday. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Patrick Mullins

Next Destination was disappointing in Cheltenham, where he ran a strange race. He isn't as slow as he looked there, he was fourth in the Champion Bumper the year before, but just seemed to hit a flat spot before staying on strongly.

We have stepped him up to three miles accordingly here. It won't be easy however as Kilbricken Storm won over this trip in Cheltenham. That was a strange race, however, and I think that most jockeys got too far back whereas Harry Cobden got his fractions spot on so I'll need to see Kilbricken Storm confirm the form before I believe it and I think Next Destination will gain redemption.

The Gold Cup is an intriguing race. While doubtful it can match the iconic spectacle that it provided last year with Sizing John, Coneygree and Djakadam thundering down to the last with only a cigarette paper gap splitting them, it nevertheless should be fascinating to watch.

Many have huge ability - there are six Grade One winners in the field - but many also have questions to answer.

Bellshill put in a spectacular performance in the Irish National with that weight, on that ground with his lack of chasing experience. The way he ran on after the last suggests to me it wasn't tiredness that caused him to wander but something else.

Concern

He has a huge engine, has won a Grade One at Punchestown over hurdles and must have a massive chance in what looks a wide-open race. The one concern is how much Fairyhouse took out of him but Ashling O'Brien, who rides him out, reports him in fine order since.

Total Recall made a mistake at the first in Aintree and lost his confidence. Doubtless he has the ability for this race but sometimes horses who get a fright in Aintree need a run to regain fluency over park fences, so that is a negative for him.

Killultagh Vic never got in a rhythm in the Gold Cup but Punchestown is a much less undulating course with more ground between fences which should allow his slightly ponderous jumping a chance.

He also won a Grade One here before and was going to win the Leopardstown Gold Cup before falling at the last, against many of today's opponents.

I ride Djakadam. He rarely runs a bad race and is the most reliable horse in the race but there is no getting away from the fact that most of his form this year has been below his best.

Perhaps Punchestown on spring ground will re-ignite his fire. Only one of the horses who beat him in the Gold Cup reoppose, Road To Respect, so maybe, just maybe, he can finally win a race at one of the big festivals. There have been bigger surprises.

I was faced with an agonising decision in the Champion Bumper. I wonder has any jockey ever had the choice of the first three home in a race in Cheltenham ... and then pick the one that finished fifth!

Clever

I could look very clever or very silly come this evening. However I really like Black Bow and I feel that Cheltenham just got to him, like it did Getabird.

In Cheltenham there is no inside rail for much of the race and, coupled with the soft ground that spread everyone across the track, it made it impossible to get enough cover to get him to settle after the crowd had got him worked up.

Punchestown will be a very different race in a very different place and I'm banking that will change the result.

Relegate must be like Linda Evangelista, who wouldn't get out of bed for less than $10,000, as she shows very little at home but is a different prospect on the track.

She put up an extraordinary performance in Cheltenham and much of the credit must go to Katie Walsh as she told Willie she was going to ride her exactly like she did, which was very brave especially as Willie wasn't so sure about the tactics.

If it had gone wrong it would have been all at Katie's door, but she stuck with what she thought and that's the sign of a good jockey. We don't know how good she is, as nothing has got to the bottom of her. That's Relegate I'm talking about by the way!

Carefully Selected and Tornado Flyer were second and third in Cheltenham and were unbelievable spare rides for Derek O'Connor and Richie Deegan.

With these young bumper horses it's very hard to know, as they are all improving at different rates so I'm probably doomed to have chosen the wrong one!

Patrick's Picks

4.55 Next Destination

6.05 Black Bow

 

****

Since I schooled Un De Sceaux on Monday morning I've been like Charlie when he got Willie Wonka's Golden ticket. I never thought Un De Sceaux would beat Douvan but I knew he would give me a white knuckle ride never to forget.

He was awesome at his fences in the last mile and he answered every question I asked of him, like he always does. We may have horses better than him but we will never have another like him for his consistency and his fierce determination. He loves this game. His rider, Virginnie Bascop and his groom, Anatoliy Yakovlyev deserve immense credit as he isn't easy to handle.

Crossing the line was an unbelievable adrenelin buzz. I used to think it was cool not to celebrate too much but there are so many disappointments in this game, think Douvan in Cheltenham, that you have to enjoy the good moments to the max. Yesterday was magic but we need another four magic days to catch Gordon!

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