Mullins in hot pur­suit of Ce­sare­witch dou­ble

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RACING | NEWS AND PROGRAMMES - BRIAN O’CON­NOR

Wil­lie Mullins is jump rac­ing’s dom­i­nant fig­ure but it is a dou­ble Ce­sare­witch as­sault on the flat this week­end which helps in­di­cate the mas­sive scale of the cham­pion trainer’s re­sources.

Mullins fields seven run­ners for the newly en­riched Dubai English Ce­sare­witch at New­mar­ket to­day which still leaves seven more con­tenders to con­test to­mor­row’s Ir­ish ver­sion at Na­van. Even on a week­end that sees Ai­dan O’Brien’s big race am­bi­tions tra­verse the globe, it is a re­mark­able dis­play of side­line strength by some­one whose pri­mary fo­cus is the Na­tional Hunt game.

Leg Spin­ner was the last Ir­ish-trained win­ner of the English Ce­sare­witch in 2007 and his trainer Tony Martin tries again with Golden Spear in a his­toric marathon hand­i­cap with a prize-fund boosted to £500,000.

That kind of money has en­cour­aged the Bal­ly­doyle team to pitch their St Leger third South­ern France into the race as well.

There’s no ques­tion though that Mullins pro­vides the bul­wark of the Ir­ish chal­lenge. He is 4-6 to win the race with one of his run­ners although it is Stra­tum who has been clear favourite for some time.

Robert Win­ston’s mount en­joyed no luck in the Ebor and has ob­vi­ous cre­den­tials even if at over twice the odds his stable com­pan­ion Uradel might pro­vide more bet­ting value.

Mullins has yet to win the New­mar­ket marathon but boasts a fine record in the Ir­ish one which is once again run at Na­van to­mor­row.

Rain

Up to 40mm of fore­cast rain could dra­mat­i­cally al­ter the com­plex­ion of the ¤100,000 fea­ture in terms of ground although what­ever the cir­cum­stances Chelkar’s ap­pear­ance will still be in­trigu­ing.

The ex-French run­ner got no luck in run­ning on his first run for Mullins in the As­cot Stakes dur­ing the sum­mer. His sub­se­quent run at Gal­way can be ig­nored as he pulled a shoe and was found to be cough­ing af­ter­wards.

The top­weight Stel­lar Mass lin­ing up keeps Chelkar at 9.7. It’s still a ma­jor im­post on soft ground but hardly in­sur­mount­able for a horse orig­i­nally bought with a Mel­bourne Cup tilt in mind.

Aus­tralia will be very much on O’Brien’s mind early to­day as US Navy Flag lines up for the $13 mil­lion “Ever­est” sprint in Syd­ney at 6.15am Ir­ish time.

It is the sec­ond re­newal of the world’s rich­est turf race and takes place 25 min­utes be­fore O’Brien’s 2017 Derby run­ner-up Cliffs of Mo­her takes his chance in the Group One Lad­brokes Stakes at the Caulfield track in Mel­bourne.

The Mel­bourne Cup en­try Yu­catan takes his chance in a mile and a half Group Two while a trio of sprint­ers – Fleet Re­view, In­tel­li­gence Cross and Spirit Of Valor – also line up on the same Caulfield card.

By the af­ter­noon though a po­ten­tially seis­mic re­newal of the De­whurst Stakes will have eyes trained res­o­lutely on New­mar­ket.

The seven-fur­long Group One has a peer­less record in iden­ti­fy­ing fu­ture clas­sic win­ners but it has rarely been as an­tic­i­pated as this.

Too Darn Hot’s tow­er­ing rep­u­ta­tion con­trib­uted to his year­ling half brother mak­ing 3.5 mil­lion guineas at the sales this week. Another un­beaten colt, San­gar­ius, is also re­garded as a po­ten­tial su­per­star. The scale of their rep­u­ta­tions means the sole proven Group One win­ner in the field, Ad­ver­tise, is only fourth favourite.

Bal­ly­doyle’s ap­par­ent num­ber one hope, An­thony Van Dyck, has at least con­tested a top-flight race al­ready and lost lit­tle in de­feat be­hind Quorto in the Na­tional Stakes last month.

The ben­e­fit of that gritty ex­pe­ri­ence could yet prove cru­cial if it comes down to a fight.

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