Mullins gets his Grand ambition
YESTERDAY saw Gowran Park stage one of the most popular meetings on the racing calendar and the feature race was celebrated with local success as Willie Mullins won the Thyestes Chase for a fourth time.
The Kilkenny racecourse was packed with a mix of locals, regulars and intrigued first-timers and it was refreshing to see such as hefty crowd at a mid-week meeting despite the inclement weather.
Goffs made sure that their first year sponsoring the prestigious handicap chase was well documented and compliments have |to be given for their support, while the tradition of seeing |cars quite simply abandoned |in the village and people walking to the track in their droves certainly hasn't discontinued.
Bottomless ground is something which is becoming accustomed with Thyestes Chase day, and that was again the case yesterday after heavy rainfall on Wednesday night and the temperatures dropping to the lowest of the year so far.
David Casey was enjoying success in the race for the third year after previously winning on This Is Serious and Hedgehunter, and just like the latter, the aptly named On His Own could be a real Aintree candidate.
Owned by Graham and Andrea Wylie, On His Own, literally came past the line on his own, 13 lengths clear of his nearest rival, first reserve Tullintain, and Casey was so far clear on jumping the last he could afford to begin congratulating his partner as |he landed running at the back of the final fence.
A combination of the low weight of 10st 2lbs and a very disappointing run in the Paddy Power at Christmas when well fancied meant Ruby Walsh was swayed elsewhere and again missed out on the opportunity of winning the Thyestes for the first time.
Walsh pulled up 7/1 joint favourite Shakervilz, who, according to Mullins, was working the best of his quartet ahead of the race. The successful trainer, saddling his 94th winner of the campaign, admitted afterwards that despite having four runners in the race, he narrowed his chances down to On His Own from an early stage.
“Two of my runners, Shakervilz and Some Target, missed the break and from then I thought I was left with Quadrillon and On His Own, but Quadrillon was soon gone so then I was left with On His Own,” commented Mullins.
“David (Casey) was fantastic on him and he just jumped away in front and I think he'll prefer better ground but he was enjoying himself so much today he forgot about the ground.”
Looking to the future and a possible titlt at the John Smith's Grand National , Mullins added: “He would look an Aintree horse after that and the entries close for that race on Tuesday so I'd imagine he will be the first of my list of entries. He may have another run before that.”
Asked if he was confident about the 10/1 chance putting up such an impressive display, |he said: “I didn't to be honest, |he disappointed me a bit in Leopardstown and when a horse disappoints he has to prove himself again.
“He didn't get a great break at Leopardstown as it was very narrow down at the start so the one thing I said to David today was to make sure and bounce him out.”
Mullins was quick to pay tribute to Casey who he described as his “super sub”.
“It's tremendous for David who stands in for us quite often and is our super-sub on more than a few occasions.”
Casey has rode a total of eight Grade One winners for Mullins and enjoyed a good time with the Closutton outfit, and is now the most successful jockey in the Thyestes Chase over the last |30-years. “I couldn't really be confident after Leopardstown, but he jumped very well today and enjoyed himself,” revealed Casey. “He stays really well and I'm delighted. The light weight helped him and I think he'll be better on nicer ground.”
Zaidpour and Ruby Walsh had earlier won the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle, beating Voler La Vedette in what was a quite tactical affair. The three-mile Grade Two was run at a very slow pace with Zaidpour making most of the running and holding the challenge of Colm Murphy's classy mare by a length.
“That was hardly a trial for either the Champion Hurdle or World Hurdle at Cheltenham as it was run at such a slow pace, but I'd imagine he will run in one or the other,” said Mullins.
Another local success came in the opener as Burrenbridge Lodge survived a stewards’ inquiry for former Kilkenny |All-Ireland winner Kieran Purcell, Inistioge jockey Tom Doyle and local owners the Big Five Syndicate.
Moscow Mannon continued his impressive form and may have booked a place at the Cheltenham Festival with a quite impressive win in the concluding winners’ bumper.