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Mullins plans ascot assault




Racing Post


Willie Mullins could fire a formidable twin assault on Ascot's major Saturday prizes after Faugheen and Ballycasey were confirmed for the Coral Ascot Hurdle and the Amlin 1965 Chase.

Mullins sent top-class mare Annie Power across the Irish Sea to land the Coral Ascot Hurdle 12 months ago and has this year entered the unbeaten Faugheen, ante-post favourite for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham next March.

The six-year-old is one of 11 entries for the Grade Two, with Gordon Elliott's smart dual-purpose performer Bayan another potential Irish raider.

Other possible runners include John Quinn's Aurore D'Estruval, the Paul Nicholls-trained Lac Fontana and Jeremy Scott's stable star Melodic Rendezvous.


Melodic Rendezvous also holds an entry at Haydock on Saturday - as does Aurore D'Estruval - but plans remain fluid for the former. Scott said: "I've done the two entries to keep the options open.

"I'd love it to rain all week, then both (courses) would be heavy and then choose which race. We want soft ground, really.

"I'm not sure we're going to get that at Ascot if the forecast stays as it is.

"Having said that, if Haydock turned to just good to soft and both were identical ground you'd nearly favour the Ascot race as it's over slightly further.

"It's a bit up in the air at the moment.

"The original plan was to go to Haydock and see how we came out of that and if he didn't have too hard a race head up to Newcastle for the Fighting Fifth, but you don't to be running them a week apart. We'll just see what the weather does.

"Wherever we go it's going to be very competitive."

Ballycasey, a Grade One winner over fences as a novice last season, is among 11 horses in contention for the Amlin.

Nicholls has entered last year's winner Al Ferof and Bury Parade, while Wishfull Thinking is a potential starter for man-of-the-moment Philip Hobbs.

Nicky Henderson could saddle French Opera and Rajdhani Express, with Nicky Richards having also confirmed Eduard.

Eduard finished runner-up behind Many Clouds on his seasonal reappearance at Carlisle, but looks more likely to wait for the Peterborough Chase at Huntington on December 7.

Richards said: "We've given him an entry in the Amlin as there weren't many in the race and we thought it was worth having a look.

"We'll see where we are late in the week, but we'll most probably wait for the Peterborough Chase."

Fox Appeal, Grey Gold, Pepite Rose and Somersby also feature.