Willie Mullins will head to Newbury with “a good bit of hope” that Cabaret Queen can give him a second success in the Ladbrokes Trophy.
It is 17 years since the Mullins-trained Be My Royal passed the post in front in the race formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup – only to be later disqualified after a prohibited substance, traced back to contaminated feed, was discovered in his sample.
Total Recall put the record straight when following up a runaway victory in the Munster National at Limerick with big-race success in Berkshire in 2017 – and Cabaret Queen bids to repeat the same double on Saturday.
Mullins said: “She got a huge penalty for winning the Munster National. However, she is still in with a light enough weight (10st 12lb) and gallops, jumps and stays, so we are going there with a good bit of hope.”
Cabaret Queen has made just two competitive appearances for Ireland’s all-conquering champion trainer, having previously been trained in Britain by Dan Skelton.
The seven-year-old finished second at Listowel before her dominant display at Limerick – and Mullins is keeping his fingers crossed she can continue to improve.
“She really appeared to like Irish-style fences,” said the Closutton handler.
“She was spectacular jumping (at Limerick) and gained a huge amount of ground in the air and seemed to do it effortlessly, so it was probably a combination of the extra trip and our style of fences. It did surprise me – she was doing it so effortlessly in front.
“We have to hope there is more improvement there. When fillies start to improve like that, they do keep improving. I’m not worried about the trip, and she handles soft ground at home.”
Mullins has a second string to his bow in the form of the mercurial Yorkhill.
The dual Cheltenham Festival winner looked a superstar in the making two and a half years ago, but the wheels have fallen off fairly spectacularly during the last couple of seasons.
“I think he’s in better form, and that drop in the weights will be a help,” said Mullins.
“I just thought that when a horse comes down in the handicap, you just have to take your chance at a big prize.
“We’ll go over and hope he’s on his best behaviour. The trip will suit, and he’s a lot easier to ride at home now. Because of that, we hope we have him in a better frame of mind and that we can ride him properly in a race – and we can make him challenge at the right time.”
The Irish bid for glory is completed by Gordon Elliott’s Galway Plate hero Borice.
The eight-year-old disappointed on his first two starts for the Cullentra trainer in high-profile handicap chases last season – but following a couple of low-key wins over hurdles, he showed what he can really do at Ballybrit during the summer.
Elliott said: “He did his last bit of work on Tuesday. He’s won a Galway Plate, and I actually thought he was an English National horse last year, but I just didn’t get the rub of the green with him.
“He’s had a wind operation, and that seems to have turned him inside out. He’s in good form, very well – and we’re looking forward to running him.
“The thing I don’t know about is the ground. He did win on heavy in France, but this will be the heaviest he has encountered since he joined me.
“I don’t think I’ve had a runner in the race before. If I have it obviously didn’t run very well – because I don’t remember it!”