Tony Mullins will consider options on the Flat and over hurdles for Party Playboy following his narrow defeat in the Emirates Cesarewitch at Newmarket.
The five-year-old was a largely unconsidered 50-1 shot for the prestigious handicap, but ran a fine race in defeat to be beaten just half a length by Stratum, who provided Tony’s all-conquering brother Willie Mullins with a second successive Cesarewitch victory.
Party Playboy’s performance came as no surprise to his trainer.
“I thought on his Glorious Goodwood run (finished fifth) he was entitled to run as well as he did. We were fairly confident that he’d improve a good bit on that if he settled and he did settle,” said Mullins
“Because he’s such a forward-going horse who wears his heart on his sleeve, you’re always worried what he’ll have left in the last 100 yards and in the end he was just caught by Willie’s horse.
“It didn’t bother me being beaten by Willie – if we were going to be beaten, I’d rather be beaten by him than a stranger.
“Our horse ran a great race and he’s come out of it well, so hopefully he can continue on an upward curve.”
After completing a Cesarewitch double with Royal Illusion in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh the following afternoon, Willie Mullins revealed ambitious plans to send both horses to Saudi Arabia for a $2.5million race in February.
Tony Mullins would seriously consider letting his charge join that pair on the journey to Asia if receiving an invitation, but he appears more likely to return to the jumping game, with a trip to the Cheltenham Festival in March a long-term target.
“There’s the race in Saudi Arabia on February 29, but Willie’s horses are rated a good bit higher than us and we might just struggle to get in, I’d say,” Mullins added.
“We could try to find a Listed race in France to try to bump up his rating, but the timing isn’t great and we might just go back down the hurdle route instead.
“He should do a job off his current mark (113) and if we can get him qualified for Cheltenham, we’ll be going.
“He’s rated so low at the moment he wouldn’t even get in a Pertemps Qualifier, but if we can get a win into him beforehand we might go to the Qualifier in Leopardstown over Christmas and hopefully get him qualified for the Pertemps Final in Cheltenham. That would be the thinking at the moment.
“He’s a very sound horse, touch wood, and I’d like to think he’ll be back for another crack at the Cesarewitch in Newmarket next year, where hopefully he’ll go one better.”