Monday 22 January 2018

Star duo please Mullins as 'long battle' looms for title

Trainer Willie Mullins Photo: Tony Gavin
Trainer Willie Mullins Photo: Tony Gavin

Johnny Ward

Willie Mullins is happy with Faugheen and Annie Power ahead of Sunday week's BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle.

Neither of the last two winners of the Champion Hurdle has run this term, but Mullins reported: "We're well on course.

"We'll see how they go between now and then. I'd like to get Faugheen there and Annie Power to Punchestown for the race she won last year - ideal scenario."

Mullins has ground concerns for Goffs Thyestes favourite at Gowran on Thursday, The Crafty Butcher, while he won't be drawn on whether it is he or Gordon Elliott who should be favourite for the jumps trainers' title.

Mullins is approximately €300,000 behind the leader after saddling the first two in Thurles' Grade Two mares' novice chase in the shape of Westerner Lady and Daisy's Gift.

"It will be a long battle ahead, nip and tuck - and I'm not sure it's a nice thing to have such a battle on! It's better for people in the game and they are enjoying it," said Mullins, who is bidding for a tenth successive title.

Jack Kennedy was the subject of huge praise at Thurles when he managed a near-miracle to stay aboard Bilko after a mistake at the first in the handicap hurdle.

The 17-year-old somehow manoeuvred his way back onto the horse after being all but thrown off and, by the time he had recovered use of the irons, it was 20 seconds since the mistake. Unfortunately, the horse finished down the field.

Irish Independent

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