Things We Learned » Mullins 1-2-3

Mullins 1-2-3

You could have called Burrows Saint as the most likely winner of Monday’s BoyleSports Irish Grand National from a long way out.  Even when Whisperinthebreeze went clear across the top of the track, you could see that Ruby Walsh was motionless in behind, apparently unperturbed.  His mind was probably racing, but his body was still.  Everything easy and efficient.  Make haste slowly. 

Of course, Burrows Saint had to see it out.  He had never been beyond three miles before in his life, and there was a point at which Isleofhopendreams mounted a challenge.  But, in truth, it never really looked like the gallant 12-year-old would catch his stable companion.  Second for the second time.

It must have been easy viewing for Willie Mullins.  His horses assembled in formation in behind the leader, a Closutton Cavalry preparing to charge.  Burrows Saint, Acapella Bourgeois, Bellow Mome and Isleofhopendreams, second, third, fourth and fifth.  And when they reeled the leader in, the champion trainer knew that he would win the Irish Grand National.  It must have been a weird and wonderful feeling, knowing that you are going to win the Irish Grand National from the top of the home straight. 

And just as it was with the Cheltenham Gold Cup five and a half weeks previously, it is correct that Willie Mullins has won the Irish Grand National.  It wouldn’t have been right if he hadn’t.  And it was emphatic, it was a 1-2-3, headed by a young horse who could go even higher. 

Horses to note

There were many horses to take out of the Irish Grand National.  The winner was obviously one.  The handicapper has raised Burrows Saint by 12lb to a mark of 156 for Monday’s win, but he merited a significant hike and, still just a six-year-old, he has the potential to be even better than his new rating.  

Susannah Ricci’s horse was racing for just the sixth time in his life over fences on Monday, so he still has lots of scope for further progress as a staying chaser.  Ruby Walsh mentioned next year’s Aintree Grand National as a potential target, and that makes lots of sense.  Seven-year-olds do not have a good record in the Aintree Grand National, the last seven-year-old winner was 79 years ago, but not many six-year-olds win the Irish Grand National.   

The Aintree seven-year-old stat is mitigated significantly by the fact that Burrows Saint was able to win an Irish Grand National at six.  And with the formidable Tiger Roll in the race, a mark of 156 would leave Burrows Saint with around 11st to carry, which would really be fine. 

Snugsborough Benny was another horse to note.  Liam Cusack’s horse travelled well in rear for Denis O’Regan, as is his wont, but it was a race that did not suit his hold-up style of racing.  In the circumstances, he did well to keep on as well as he did to take fourth place.  He was the only hold-up horse to get into the first six.  The handicapper dropped him by 1lb to a mark of 144, and he will be of interest off that mark in another big staying handicap chase, perhaps ideally on a right-handed track again, perhaps on easier ground. 

Bellow Mome also ran better than the bare form of the race suggests.  It looked like he would be a player as he moved easily with his stable companions in behind the leader over the sixth last and fifth last fences, but he tired in the home straight, and his left-leaning tendencies became more pronounced as he did.   

That was just his third run this season, and he should do better back down in trip and perhaps at a left-handed track.

And Whisperinthebreeze ran a cracking race.  Jessica Harrington’s Leopardstown Chase winner is only six, like the winner, and his attacking style of racing should be seen to best advantage back over a shorter trip.

Decrypt looked good 

Decrypt looked very good in winning at Cork on Saturday.  Nicely settled by Billy Lee towards the rear of the field through the early stages of the race, he made his ground easily in behind horses from the top of the home straight.  Moved towards the outside at the two-furlong marker, he closed in on the leaders with minimal effort and, when his rider went for him, he picked up impressively.

Paddy Twomey’s horse had Lady Kaya behind him in third place when he won his maiden at The Curragh last June.  He holds an entry in the Irish 2000 Guineas, so he is obviously highly regarded and, while he is by Dark Angel out of a Kodiac mare who won over five furlongs, he saw out the seven furlongs strongly on Saturday, and there is every chance that he will get a mile.  He was racing for just the third time on Saturday, so he has lots of scope for further progression.  He is an exciting prospect.

Mullins stars to clash 

It’s great that two of Willie Mullins’ brightest young stars, Al Boum Photo and Kemboy, are set to take each other on in the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday.  It’s great for racing.  It’s great for racing fans.

The fact that they are stable companions could have determined that the clash would not take place but, thankfully, that is not the case.  They are both owned by different owners and the Punchestown Gold Cup is the correct race for both.

Their respective trajectories this season have been steep.  Kemboy was racing off a handicap rating of 145 when he fell at the first fence in the Irish Grand National last year.  Since then, he has won five of his six races, a Clonmel Oil Chase and a Savills Chase and a Betway Bowl among them.  His only defeat since then was in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, when he unseated at the first fence.   

Al Boum Photo has raced just twice since Punchestown last year.  He has won a Savills Chase (the other one, the Tramore one), and he has obviously won a Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He and Paul Townend don’t have a score to settle with the Punchestown Festival any more.  Last year’s mis-hap has been consigned to the annals.  A Cheltenham Gold Cup victory settles all scores. 

Al Boum Photo is rated 175, Kemboy is rated 174.  Paul Townend on Al Boum Photo and Ruby Walsh on Kemboy, with last year’s Punchestown Gold Cup winner Bellshill, another stable companion, and perhaps Monalee thrown in for good measure.  It could be the race of the week.

Thought for the week 

It was good to see Sizing Rome – trained by Jim Dreaper, son of Tom Dreaper, trainer of 10 Irish Grand National winners, more than any other trainer – and Goose Man – trained by Tom Taaffe, son of Pat Taaffe, rider of six Irish Grand National winners, more than any other rider – fight out the finish to a race on Irish Grand National day.  It was a throwback to the past with two horses who could both be horses for the future.

© The Irish Field, 27th April 2019