Things We Learned » Mullins the master

Mullins the master

So, you needed further proof that Willie Mullins really could train flat horses, and that he could send one of them across 10 or 11 times zones and get a result?

On the flat thing, there was Sesenta, who won the Ebor in 2009, and there was Simenon, who won twice at Royal Ascot in 2012 and who got to within a neck of depriving The Queen’s Estimate of her own Gold Cup the following year, and there was Pique Sous at the same Royal Ascot last year and Clondaw Warrior this year.  Then in August this year, Mullins sent Max Dynamite (more on him later) to York to win the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup.

If it was multiple time zones you were after, there was Blackstairmountain, who went to Japan in 2013 and won the Nakayama Grand Jump, second only to the Aintree Grand National in the world of jump racing.  And how many time zones do you cross when you win Grade 1 races in France?

And if it was hemispheres you were after, there was Simenon again, third in the Herbert Power Stakes and fourth in the Melbourne Cup in 2013.  Then in the very small hours of last Tuesday morning, if you were enough of an insomniac to get up and watch it (in fact, even if you didn’t show insomniacal tendencies, it still happened), Max Dynamite (see above) finished second in the Melbourne Cup.

When you finish second, you are entitled to look back and think what-if, and there was lots of what-if about Max Dynamite.  Fair play to Darren Weir and Michelle Payne and Prince Of Penzance, they were worthy winners, it was some performance, but when you are beaten by a horse who was so unconsidered he was allowed go off at 100/1, you are entitled to feel at least a little aggrieved.  Also, he couldn’t have known it at the time but, as things transpired, if Frankie had gone a little to his right instead of a little to his left at the top of the home straight, it could have been oh so different.

Draw and trends

Interesting that the Melbourne Cup winner, Prince Of Penzance, emerged from stall one, that Max Dynamite emerged from stall two and the third horse, Criterion, emerged from stall four.  That is beyond coincidence in a field of 24.  Unusually, it was probably a help to be drawn on the inside, despite the fact that they tried to negate the apparent draw bias by moving the inside rail out.

It is also interesting that the trends told you that you needed a horse aged four or five who was bred outside of Australia and New Zealand, who was drawn in the middle, who was trained by Chris Waller or Gai Waterhouse or Robert Hickmott or in Japan or in Europe, and who had ideally won last time out.

Prince Of Penzance is a six-year-old New Zealand-bred, who is trained in Australia by Darren Weir, who was drawn in stall one and who did not win last time out.

Building the anticipation

Back to the Willie Mullins theme, now that we are into the National Hunt pages.

We have seen a lot of the potential stars of this National Hunt season already.  We have seen Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card and Tycoon Prince and Dynaste and Sizing John and The New One and Many Clouds and Saphir Du Rheu and Sizing Granite and No More Heroes and Vibrato Valtat.  And Don Cossack twice!

Over the course of the weekend we will see Coneygree and Shutthefrontdoor and Southfield Theatre and Simonsig and Hidden Cyclone and Special Tiara and Kitten Rock.  But we have yet to see some of the most exciting ones, like Douvan and Don Poli and Vautour and Faugheen and Annie Power and Nichols Canyon and Un De Sceaux and Valseur Lido and Djakadam.

Mullins runs Petite Parisienne at Naas today and Arctic Fire and Twinlight at Navan tomorrow.  The champion trainer is no doubt intent on building the anticipation.

When you get to the end of the first page in a stable tour, and you are still on the As, you know that you could have a(nother) serious season ahead of you.

Found’s Turf

It was a shame that there had to be a loser, it would have been a fitting send-off for Golden Horn had he added the Breeders’ Cup Turf to his outstanding CV, but – being Irish and all – you still found yourself cheering for Found.  It would have been a real shame if a filly with her talent had gone through her three-year-old season without winning a Group 1 or Grade 1 contest.

The half-length by which Aidan O’Brien’s filly beat Golden Horn continued a remarkable Arc/Breeders’ Cup Turf stat: still no winner of the Arc has ever gone on to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same year, yet 10 of the beaten horses in the Arc went on to win the Turf.

Dig a little deeper, and that stat perhaps isn’t as remarkable as it first appears, because only one Arc winner in the 10 years that went before Golden Horn – Dylan Thomas, fifth behind English Channel at Monmouth Park in 2007 – had run in the Turf.  Even so, the stats were against the favourite.

Golden Horn is off to stud – 60 grand if you’re interested – but the great news is that Found will stay in training next year.  Hopefully she draws lower than 15 in next year’s Arc.

Good language

Trainer Todd Pletcher on his filly Stopchargingmaria before the Breeders’ Cup Distaff: “If they’re going 23/46, Javier needs to be off of it a little.  If they are going 24/48 he needs to be on the lead, so hopefully he makes the right decision.”

As it happened, they went 23.57/47.26, and Javier (Castellano) sat fifth, two lengths off the lead, which, as it turned out, was spot on.  It’s a good language over there, times and figures and sectionals and everything, everyday speak.

© The Irish Field, 7th November 2015