Justin O’Hanlon: ‘Mullins’ firepower could be crucial in deciding price’ | Horse racing news
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Galopin Des Champs signed the season in style in the Boylesports Gold Cup at Fairyhouse
By Justin O’Hanlon
The tried and tested tactic of focusing on hunters in this competition looks likely to pay off this season, but the hurdle division is also interesting as a few horses look likely to dominate. This is also a season in which Willie Mullins could be particularly dominant at the top.
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Bromhead’s Henry may be in the hunt for his third straight Gold Cup winner following wins at Minella Indo and A Later, but he will do well to repeat that level of success as Closutton’s side have an extremely strong in the best races.
After his spectacular performance at Punchestown in April in his first attempt at 3m, the giant allaho finished the season as the best remaining fighter and the strong galloping manner of his win suggests he will be tough to beat in the Gold Cup.
It would seem that the champion trainer risks sending him to King George in Kempton, a race that promises to be made for him.
For all the races that Allaho does not contest, there is always the brilliant novice from last season Field Scampwho would have enjoyed an unbeaten campaign had it not been for his very unfortunate fall from the final fence in the Turners Chase at Cheltenham.
How he campaigns will be interesting. He was brilliant at 2m4f last season, but he was a Grade 1 winning novice hurdler on 3m. The Punchestown Chase in December would seem a natural starting point.
Although he said Mullins has such a strong hand in the best runs, such was the authority with which See you later clinched the Gold Cup last season, it would be foolish to leave him out. A winning return to the Betfair Chase at Haydock is on the cards, especially given how he won that contest last season.
Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
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El Fabiolo improved rapidly last season after landing a first hurdle at Tramore on New Year’s Day
Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
The novice fighter division will also be interesting. Top remaining prospect The Nice Guy is out for the season, but Mullins has at least one live contender in the 2m division in the form of Fabioloa fast-rising novice hurdler last season who scared Jonbon in Grade 1 at Aintree before earning Grade 1 success at Punchestown.
Add to the list, the trained by Gordon Elliott mighty potter. His campaign was somewhat mixed last season, including when he came to a halt after a bad mistake in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but he got back on track by picking up a Grade 1 at the Punchestown festival and his trainer can’t wait to see him tackle fences.
For the purposes of finding a Grand National winner, one could do much worse than include the Gavin Cromwell-trained vanilla.
2021 winner Albert Bartlett started well last season, but his form went south towards the end of the campaign, with a poor display of jumps in the National Hunt Chase being particularly disappointing. Kissing the thorns proved to be a reason which has now been rectified and he looks likely to target the biggest remaining handicaps this season.
Despite the disappointment of what happened at Cheltenham, Shishkin Energumene’s loss at Ascot makes him the top two-mile fighter and an unbeaten season looks likely.
Champion Hurdle’s image is as clear as it could be at this point in the season. Everything points to a Cheltenham showdown between the unbeaten champion Honeysuckle and brilliant winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Constitution Hill. One of them will have an undefeated season and both look likely to get there undefeated.
When it comes to novice hurdles, Mullins again seems to have a significant advantage. It has been a long time since a hurdles debut was anticipated with more excitement than that of the brilliant Easy Vega after his exceptional unbeaten campaign last season, he has won breathtaking successes at Cheltenham and Punchestown.
Justin O’Hanlon’s Ten to Watch
See you later
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FIRST PUBLICATION AT 11:00 AM, OCTOBER 31, 2022