Willie Mullins is throwing his four best staying chasers at the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup in an effort to claim a large share of the 250,000 euro purse.
Total Recall, Killultagh Vic and last year’s runner-up Djakadam all ran in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, while Bellshill made a bold bid in the Irish National, being beaten just a length.
Since Cheltenham, Total Recall was sent off favourite for the Grand National but an early error put him on the back foot and he never threatened to get involved.
Assistant trainer Patrick Mullins said: “Total Recall made an early mistake or two and after that it knocked his confidence and Paul (Townend) wasn’t hard on him, so it didn’t take much out of him.
“The worry is that sometimes horses come back from Aintree and can jump a bit careful, but he’s schooled well.
“Punchestown should be easier for Killultagh Vic to get into a rhythm. He definitely has the ability and if he does get into a rhythm, he must have a huge chance.
“Bellshill has a huge engine. You don’t know how much of a mark Fairyhouse might have left, but at home we can’t see one and we’re expecting a big run.”
Mullins jnr maintains his partnership with Djakadam, whom he partnered into fifth at Cheltenham.
He said: “I got a great spin off Djakadam in the Gold Cup.
“A lot of those who finished in front of him at Cheltenham aren’t here, so that gives him a good chance.”
Mullins’ big rival Gordon Elliott fields the enigmatic Outlander, who has been pulled up on his last two starts but did win a Grade One earlier in the season.
“He’s won another Grade One for us this season at Down Royal and was only beaten a neck at Leopardstown in February and three lengths there at Christmas, so he’s a great little horse,” said Elliott.
“If the ground doesn’t dry up too much, hopefully he’ll be there or thereabouts.”
Noel Meade is hoping to gatecrash the party with Road To Respect, who ran a fine race to finish fourth at Cheltenham.
“I think if we get reasonably good ground it’s going to be a big help to him,” Meade told At The Races.
“He’s had an easy enough and light enough season, so hopefully that will be to his advantage.”
Joseph O’Brien’s Edwulf is another who has won a Grade One this season, but he could manage only eighth in the Gold Cup.
O’Brien said: “We’d love a drop of rain, as he handles a bit of juice.
“He’s a course and distance winner and while he was a little bit disappointing at Cheltenham, he’s come out of it very well.
“We expected better at Cheltenham, but the first two sat first and second all the way and dictated the race.”
Sub Lieutenant would need to bounce back to his best to get involved, having finished fifth in the Betway Bowl at Aintree.
“He appears in good form, but obviously he has only just come back from Aintree,” said trainer Henry de Bromhead.
“I thought he ran well at Aintree. He got a bit lost at halfway, then stayed on well again.”
The sole British challenger is Colin Tizzard’s Sizing Granite, third in the Melling Chase at Aintree.
Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “He ran a big race at Aintree and is a horse that comes right with a bit of sun on his back.
“He is a Grade One winner already over two miles and ran really well at Punchestown last year.
“He is certainly worth a go over three miles, whether he is good enough to beat them, I don’t know.”