Willie Mullins to aim Total Recall at the Grand National not the Gold Cup
Willie Mullins sees the Grand National as a more realistic long-term target than the Cheltenham Gold Cup for his Ladbrokes Trophy hero Total Recall.
Having made an impressive debut for Ireland's perennial champion trainer in the Munster National at Limerick, the eight-year-old became the first Irish-trained winner of the race formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup since Bright Highway in 1980 when getting the better of Whisper in a thrilling finish.
Total Recall was trimmed to around 20-1 to provide his trainer with a first Gold Cup triumph at Prestbury Park in March, but Mullins is more inclined to aim for the world's most famous steeplechase at Aintree the following month, for which he is a 25-1 shot with several firms.
"He came home on Saturday night and he's fine," Mullins told At The Races.
"I think he'd have to improve another 10lb to be competitive in a Gold Cup field. He looks a Grand National horse to me. That's the route I would be going.
"We'll see what the English handicapper thinks of him and what the Irish handicapper thinks of him, but I'm thinking he's going to be (rated) maybe 158 to 160. That warrants an entry into the Gold Cup, but he might finish fourth, or fifth or sixth maybe."
Considering more immediate targets, Mullins added: "Do we go for the Thyestes Chase (Gowran Park, January 25) for his next run? The Bobbyjo Chase (Fairyhouse, February 24) is there.
"We'll get him home from the race and see how he turns out."
Total Recall's prestigious victory put the record straight for Mullins 15 years after Be My Royal passed the post in front only to disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance caused by contaminated food.
The Closutton handler reserved special praise for jockey Paul Townend, who steered Total Recall to success and will be relied upon heavily in the next couple of months in the absence of sidelined stable jockey Ruby Walsh.
Mullins said: "Paul is way more than a sub and I'm lucky enough to have him because everyone knows he could walk into most big yards in Ireland or England.
"But he gets a lot of rides from our place and a lot of nice winners. Hopefully it stays that way."