They’re OFF and FLY­ING

Tony Keenan casts his eye over the horses that have come out of the traps quickly this jumps sea­son

Racing Ahead - - IRISH RACING -

form at this point though where he will run re­mains a mys­tery;Wil­lie Mullins on pos­si­ble tar­gets is con­fus­ing enough with­out Rich Ricci adding fur­ther murk to the pic­ture with his own sta­ble tours and pun­ters bet­ting the Clo­sut­ton horses ante-post need to thread care­fully with too many voices emerg­ing from the yard; there is Ruby, David Casey and Paddy Mullins there too.Vroum Vroum Mag’s ver­sa­til­ity could prove a ma­jor prob­lem for pun­ters play­ing early as she seems set to be used as a ‘su­per-sub’ which in some way re­flects all that is wrong with the Mullins method of plac­ing horses; she is be­ing cam­paigned around oth­ers rather than be­ing put in the spots that are best for her. This is why De Brom­head get­ting Valseur Lido, for all that he was part of the Mullins B-team, is a tonic; he is just the type of horse that suf­fered for the cam­paign­ing of star sta­ble­mates and now we might get a true mea­sure of his abil­ity.

Of the other stay­ers, the fu­ture of Don Cos­sack re­mains with­out clar­ity and we won’t see him un­til the New Year but Djakadam should be out ear­lier. Road To Riches is worth men­tion­ing too and he went with prom­ise at Gowran in Oc­to­ber, rid­den out the back to re­store his con­fi­dence fol­low­ing the Gal­way Plate de­ba­cle; he’s one that hasn’t al­ways had things break his way but has shown great bounce­back­a­bil­ity through­out his ca­reer and might well do so hav­ing had some time off for treat­ment on an ail­ing back.

The Ryanair is hardly worth men­tion­ing at this point with Mullins al­ways likely to de­flect one of his top­pers into the race late on but early favourite Black Her­cules makes no ap­peal; he won a weak JLT that was fur­ther weak­ened by some of the main play­ers fail­ing to get around and has plenty to find to com­pete in open com­pany. One sec­ond-sea­son chaser that could make the break­through how­ever is Sub Lieu­tenant and he’s al­ready rated the su­pe­rior of Black Her­cules by Time­form. He’s sim­ply looked a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal since join­ing De Brom­head, trans­formed from the laboured plod­der of last sea­son, and won’t be out of place in Grade 1s judg­ing on his early-sea­son ef­forts.


Faugh­een and An­nie Power re­main the key horses in the hur­dling di­vi­sion but it was dis­ap­point­ing to read that Ricci has said they will not race against each other should both make it to the Fes­ti­val in­tact.A lot can hap­pen be­tween now and then of course and both horses have a his­tory of in­jury but to talk of a World Hur­dle for Faugh­een is an in­sult;Mullins seems con­fi­dent he would re­turn to his best and he was bet­ter than ever in win­ning the Ir­ish Cham­pion Hur­dle at Leop­ard­stown last Jan­uary. It is worth point­ing out that the trainer has rarely run one of his stars in the World Hur­dle with An­nie Power the notable ex­cep­tion in 2014.

One Mullins horse that could be in­ter­est­ing step­ping up in grade at two miles is Ivan Grozny and he could land one of the weaker Grade 1s this term.Hav­ing proved hard to set­tle early in his ca­reer, he has been trans­formed by the switch to fron­trun­ning tac­tics and has more than a lit­tle of the Arc­tic Fire and Wick­low Brave about him, both of those hav­ing made the jump


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