Rejuvenated War has Morris planning Grand finale
The rare combination of class and courage that saw War Of Attrition triumph in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham four years ago shone through at Navan yesterday in a tremendous finish to the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle.
Enjoying himself out in front and jumping boldly, the rehabilitated veteran star of the Mouse Morris yard proved just too strong for hot favourite Mourad as they dominated the finish of this Grade Two contest.
The veteran Presenting gelding's connections will await both a clean bill of health and the weights tomorrow for the John Smith's Grand National before finalising where the final run of his career will be staged.
"All options are open but the first thing is to see if he's sound in the morning. Then we'll find out what mark the British handicapper gives him for Aintree and of course there's the World Hurdle before that," said Morris.
"At the moment the World Hurdle is a one-horse race with Big Buck's, like ourselves, coming back to hurdles after problems over fences."
The application of cheekpieces and returning to the smaller obstacles have worked the oracle for this gelding in Michael O'Leary's familiar colours which endured a lengthy recovery from regeneration treatment for a tendon injury before he could return to training.
Sponsors Ladbrokes reacted to the head verdict in favour of Davy Russell's mount over fellow World Hurdle probable Mourad by bracketing him at 33/1 for Cheltenham's Thursday feature while the winner is at 20/1 for Aintree.
The session had commenced on a better note for the Mullins-Walsh partnership when Kerb Appeal in the colours of lucky Dublin owners the Olde Crowbars Syndicate made short work of his maiden hurdle opponents.
Runaway scorer in a bumper over this route late last month, the Needle Gun gelding jumped well for Ruby Walsh and could be called the winner off the last bend where joint favourite Monastrell was already beaten.
Although the latter's stable companion Jim Bowie threatened briefly to spring a shock between the last two flights, Walsh's mount still had plenty in the tank and will now be stepped up both in trip and class with the Michael Purcell Memorial Hurdle at Thurles on the horizon according to Mullins.
After disappointments also with favourites Cadspeed and Pickapocketortwo, the Mullins bandwagon got back in the groove to an extent when Uimhiraceathair rallied in the dying strides of the Ten Up Chase to dead-heat with Telenor. The RSA Chase remains on the agenda for Uimhiraceathair, out to 25/1 from 16s, as Mullins felt the horse would gain experience for this run.
Successful over the course and distance in early December, Telenor continued on an upward curve for Jim Dreaper who could target the Irish Grand National if the ground was soft at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday. Shakervilz capped the meeting for Mullins and Walsh by making a treble for the pair after edging a sustained duel with favourite Osana and holding the surge of Major Finnegan in a fast-run Flyingbolt Novice Chase.