Daily Mail

Mustard is hot stuff in bonus bid


KELSO and bookmakers bet365 combine to host a superb card with excellent prize money this afternoon — and the riches on offer have not escaped the notice of Irish trainers.

Those from across the Irish sea dominate the betting for the £100,000 Morebattle Hurdle, with the layers keen to keep Mctigue onside.

The lightly-raced juvenile represents connection­s who bagged this race two years ago with The shunter and he then proceeded to score at the Cheltenham Festival.

Those two victories netted the owner/ trainer combinatio­n a handsome bonus and trainer emmet Mullins again looks to have targeted the £100,000 bounty to any horse that completes the double.

Mctigue, victorious at sedgefield last september, went on to win at Auteuil the following month in a Grade Two event which has worked out handsomely and he has three options at Cheltenham should he triumph today.

His two subsequent performanc­es have not been anything to shout about but they have ensured he is assessed and qualified for handicaps and his handler has already proved he is a master at readying a horse for a specific target.

In contrast, (Kelso, 1.50) has taken a different path to today’s feature. He competed in two novice chases this season, the second of which saw him follow home Arkle Chase favourite el Fabiolo at Fairyhouse before Christmas.

Admittedly, the selection was beaten a comfortabl­e distance that day, but he remains a decent prospect over hurdles and possesses a standout piece of form courtesy of his fine run in last year’s County Hurdle when third as a novice to the much-vaunted state Man.

But for the foreboding presence of Constituti­on Hill, his conqueror would be a red-hot favourite for the Champion Hurdle in 10 days’ time. Colonel Mustard had any number of talented hurdlers behind him that day including Greatwood Hurdle hero West Cork, Imperial Cup winner surprise Package and Cormier, who himself landed the Morebattle 12 months ago. A planned trip to last month’s Betfair Hurdle was shelved because of the prevailing fast ground, but the silver lining to that cloud is trainer lorna Fowler has a fresh horse that remains nicely handicappe­d.

Fowler (below) said: ‘ We thought we could go straight for the County Hurdle, but with the bonus on offer, it made sense to have a go. It is a great carrot. It is a very hard carrot to get your hands on, but it has to be worth a go. The plan is to go to the County afterwards if all is well.’

The likeable son of Makfi also locked horns with sir Gerhard and Jonbon in his novice campaign and looks capable of troubling his strongly-fancied Irish counterpar­t before heading to Cheltenham.

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