Mr Ad­ju­di­ca­tor and Saldier to cross paths

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - Sport - B ASH­LEY IVESON

Wil­lie Mullins fires a for­mi­da­ble twin as­sault on the Fish­ery Lane Hurdle at Naas on Satur­day.

Mr Ad­ju­di­ca­tor and Saldier crossed paths on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions last sea­son, with Mr Ad­ju­di­ca­tor com­fort­ably coming off best when fill­ing the run­ner-up spot in the Tri­umph Hurdle at the Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val.

Saldier was a long way back in fifth on that oc­ca­sion, but turned the ta­bles em­phat­i­cally in the Cham­pion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown and both horses run for the first time since in this two-mile Grade Three.

Per­haps tellingly, sta­ble jockey Ruby Walsh has sided with Saldier, with Paul Tow­nend part­ner­ing Mr Ad­ju­di­ca­tor.

Mullins said: “Mr Ad­ju­di­ca­tor and Saldier run in the Fish­ery Lane and this is a nice race to start the two of them off in.

“Both horses seem in good form and hope­fully they both run well.”

The big­gest threat to the Mullins pair is the Gavin Cromwell-trained Espoir D’Allen.

The son of Voix Du Nord was the lead­ing ju­ve­nile in Ire­land in the first half of last sea­son, win­ning his first four starts in­clud­ing a Grade Three at Fairy­house and a Grade Two at Leop­ard­stown.

How­ever, he dis­ap­pointed in the Spring Ju­ve­nile Hurdle won by Mr Ad­ju­di­ca­tor and was sub­se­quently ruled out of the Tri­umph Hurdle and ul­ti­mately missed the rest of the cam­paign.

Cromwell said: “We’re de­lighted to have him back. It looks a good enough race, but it will be good to get him started. We’ll see how he gets on. He’s in good form and this will tell us a lot about where we’re head­ing with him for the rest of the sea­son.”

The Charles O’Brien-trained Master­mind, Jes­sica Harrington’s Con­ron and Grey Waters from Joseph O’Brien’s yard com­plete the sixstrong field.

Rhine­stone makes his jump­ing de­but in the open­ing Ir­ish Stal­lion Own­ers EBF Maiden Hurdle.

Joseph O’Brien’s charge filled the run­ner-up spot be­hind the Mullinstrained Black­bow in a Grade Two bumper at Leop­ard­stown in Fe­bru­ary be­fore fin­ish­ing ninth in the Cham­pion Bumper at Chel­tenham.

He will be widely ex­pected to make a suc­cess­ful start over flights this week­end, al­though Gor­don El­liott’s Em­pire Burleque rates a threat, hav­ing blown away the cob­webs at Gal­way a fort­night ago.

El­liott runs French bumper win­ner Dal­las Des Pic­tons in the Padraig Fitzger­ald Me­mo­rial Maiden Hurdle, while the Mongey Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Be­gin­ners Chase throws up a fas­ci­nat­ing clash be­tween Ted Walsh’s Any Sec­ond Now and Bac­ardys from the Mullins yard.

Any Sec­ond Now chased home Foot­pad on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions last sea­son, while dual Grade One-win­ning hur­dler Bac­ardys gets a sec­ond chance over fences af­ter fall­ing on his sec­ond start over the larger ob­sta­cles last term.

There is a to­tal prize fund of 50,000 euro up for grabs in the Sky Sports Rac­ing Launch­ing In 2019 Brown Lad Hand­i­cap Hurdle. Paul Nolan has a strong hand with Rooster By­ron, Fitzhenry and Chisholm Trail.

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