By Jon Lees
Neil Mullholland is considering bringing Badger Beer Silver Trophy runner-up Soupy Soups out again quickly at Cheltenham on Friday before the horse’s new handicap mark comes into play.
Soupy Soups ran a career best to come within a neck of catching Give Me A Copper, part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, and delivering a first victory in the Wincanton feature from which The Young Master had been disqualified in 2014.
The seven-year-old was gaining with every stride on his Paul Nicholls-trained rival and the defeat brought double disappointment for Mulholland.
“It was very frustrating because as I was standing in second place for the Badger Beer, I watched my bumper horse Exelerator Express get beat a head at Kelso, which made it even more frustrating,” he said.
“We’ve just been a bit unlucky in these types of races lately. In the Kerry National (in September) Robbie Power and Shantou Village parted company at the last when it looked like they were going to nearly win.
“Soupy Soups was a 10-1 shot, but I was hoping he’d run well. We won the Betbright Chase with Pilgrims Bay in 2017 and the same race this year with Walt. He was pretty much the same as those.
“When Adrian pulled him out onto better ground, he kind of got rolling. He was off the bridle coming round the turn and maybe he just hadn’t been enjoying the ground as much as the others.”
Soupy Soups had been put up 12lb for two previous runs and is likely to get another ratings rise on the strength of Saturday’s effort. He is entered in Friday’s Markel Insurance Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase.
“He is in the three-mile-one-furlong 0-140 race at Cheltenham,” said Mulholland.
“He’s a hardy little horse. We will see what the handicapper does tomorrow and if he is going to put him up, then we will make a decision on Thursday morning.
“He can run off his exact same mark there, which he couldn’t from Saturday onwards.”
The Young Master also contested the Badger Beer but was pulled up.
He may not be back until the spring when he could have yet another tilt at the Bet365 Chase, which he won in 2016 to give Mulholland his biggest win so far as a trainer, and finished second this year.
“The Young Master didn’t like the ground,” said the trainer. “He got a couple of cuts so we will see how he is in a week or so, but he could have a quiet winter and a busy spring and summer.”
He continued: “We were lucky enough to win the Classic Chase at Warwick last season which was a £100,000 race and we won the Mandarin Chase at Newbury with Carole’s Destrier.
“But then there was The Druids Nephew slipping up in the 2015 Grand National, that was unlucky, and Carole’s Destrier got beat half a length in the 2016 Hennessy. If some of those were to click, it would make a big difference.
“The horses are running well and hopefully if we keep going the way we are going the wins will come.”