Mullins quartet seek to extend fine Irish Arkle record

Notebook lies in wait for Closutton team.

  • Friday 31 January
  • News
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Willie Mullins is responsible for four of the seven runners in the ERSG Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

The champion trainer has saddled six previous winners of the Irish Arkle, with Un De Sceaux (2015), Douvan (2016) and Footpad (2018) his three most recent victors.

Mullins appears intent on adding to his tally on Saturday – with Bapaume (Robbie Power), Cash Back (Danny Mullins), Melon (Paul Townend) and Royal Rendezvous (Mikey Fogarty) all declared – and his son Patrick is unsure who will come out on top.

He said: “I was disappointed overall with Melon’s performance at Christmas, but I did like the way he battled to win after he made a mistake at the last. He does appear to jump to his right a little bit, which isn’t ideal.

“Bapaume improved significantly from his first to his second run. He’ll have no problem coming back to two miles on the way he jumps. I know Ruby (Walsh) is very sweet on him. He’s very reminiscent of Footpad.

“Cash Back is a fine, big chasing type. He’s a bit like Un De Sceaux in that he likes to lead and get on with things.

“He jumps very well. What I liked about his performance in Naas was it took him a long time to pull up after the line. When you see that, you know they’ve got an awful left in the tank.

“I don’t think there’s an awful lot between a few of these.”

The chief threat to the Mullins team is Henry De Bromhead’s Notebook, who completed a hat-trick over fences with a Grade One course-and-distance success last month.

De Bromhead said: “He’s done really well.

“He’s obviously come from a relatively low rating over hurdles of 135 – (but) he always schooled like a really nice horse over fences, so you hoped he would improve.

“I can’t say I thought he’d improve to this level, but it’s great to have him.”

Oliver McKiernan’s Gallant John Joe and Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’Oudairies – runner-up to Notebook last time out – are the other hopefuls.

O’Brien said: “Touch wood, he’s always been good jumping fences and has been a natural.

“He maybe didn’t get into the same rhythm last time, and I hope we can get him back into that rhythm.

“Hopefully we can get closer to Notebook this time – he’s in good shape.”

The first of four Grade Ones on the card is the Nathaniel Lacy And Partners Solicitors “50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff” Novice Hurdle.

Leading contenders include the Mullins-trained Elixir D’Ainay, Gordon Elliott’s Fury Road and Latest Exhibition from Paul Nolan’s yard.

The latter was last seen beating Andy Dufresne in last month’s Navan Novice Hurdle.

Nolan said: “His jumping was good the last day, bar one – but if he makes a mistake like that again, he’s not going to win a Grade One, so hopefully he’ll jump well.

“All his form has worked out. Abacadabras beat him over two miles, but has since won a Grade One, while we beat Andy Dufresne – and he’s come out and won a Grade Two.

“It will be very competitive. These are the best novices around, bar Envoi Allen. I hope we continue to improve.”

Mullins quartet seek to extend fine Irish Arkle record

Leopardstown 14:00, 1 February 2020

Leopardstown 14:00, 1 February 2020

Leopardstown 14:00, 1 February 2020

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