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Saturday 16 December 2017

Djakadam top of the schooling

Mullins' horse looks a solid Gold Cup contender as he shows his good form with a pleasing piece of work at Leopardstown

Djakadam and Royal Caviar school after racing at Leopardstown Pic: racingpost.com
Djakadam and Royal Caviar school after racing at Leopardstown Pic: racingpost.com

Leading Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Djakadam showed his well-being in the traditional pre-festival gallops and schooling after racing at Leopardstown.

Willie Mullins' charge, runner-up in chasing's blue riband in the last two seasons, was given a lead by Arkle Trophy-bound Royal Caviar before heading his stablemate towards the end of the breeze in the hands of Ruby Walsh.

Bellshill was an early faller at the first, but both he and Patrick Mullins were quickly to their feet.

Mullins said: "He's a little bit stiff afterwards, I'd have liked to have schooled him again after that, but because he was a little bit stiff it was best not to and we'll see how he is in the morning.

"Rule Supreme did fall here in a schooling session and went on to win the RSA Chase.

"I was very happy with the other two. Djakadam has not run since Christmas, but I think he is best when fresh and I was very pleased with him there today."

Mullins worked another trio of Cheltenham hopefuls, headed by JLT Novices' Chase fancy Yorkhill.

Last year's Neptune Novices' Hurdle winner warmed to the task after making fiddly mistakes at the first few obstacles, as Walsh was content to let him find his feet behind Blazer and Arbre De Vie, before allowing him an inch of rein to go and win the gallop with the minimum of effort, under a strong hold.

Mullins said of Yorkhill: "He went a bit left at the first few fences and then he jumped high and Ruby said he gave himself a bit of a fright early in the back straight, but he was electric after that when they went quicker.

"We might school him again before Cheltenham and he'll go for the JLT.

"Blazer is in a few handicaps, but he's high enough over there and is better treated over here. We might keep him at home.

"I'm not sure where we'll run Arbre De Vie, the four-miler is a possibility. It was fine bar Bellshill. That was the only blot."

In racing yesterday at Dublin the track, Jody McGarvey made a remarkable recovery on Great Field after almost parting company at the final fence to take the honours in the Irish Stallion Farm EBF Novice Chase.

After not getting very high at the penultimate obstacle, the Mullins-trained six-year-old jumped the last better but knuckled on landing, causing McGarvey to lose an iron.

Somehow, the jockey was able to keep the partnership intact and, as the 15-8 favourite had a handy lead, Great Field had enough in hand to go on and score by eight lengths from Don't Touch It to give owner JP McManus a one-two.

Former top hurdler Identity Thief put in a much-needed clear round but finished a well-beaten fourth of the five runners.

McGarvey said: "My heart skipped a few beats, all right. He jumped super in the early part of the race. He was real quick, but just doesn't have a lot of scope. At the last he just knuckled at the back of it. I was rolling around on his back, but luckily I kept the partnership intact."

Mullins said: "It was a great performance by horse and rider. He's improved a lot from Gowran, and should keep improving. We'll have to find another target for him.

"I don't really want to go to Aintree and I don't think there is anything for him at Fairyhouse, as I don't want to go over two and a half miles in the Ryanair."

performance

Hidden Cyclone put up a typically game performance as he gave weight to younger rivals in the Foxrock Cup Hurdle and set up a double for absent trainer John 'Shark' Hanlon.

The 12-year-old was winning for the 17th time in his career and took his earnings to near £450,000 with a do-or-die effort. Hanlon's second winner came courtesy of Camlann (9-4 favourite), who took the Coral.ie Handicap Hurdle.

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