Mulholland eyes up Grand plan of attack
Ulster trainer Neil Mulholland already has one eye on the Grand National at Aintree next spring as he begins to map out campaigns for some of his staying stars.
Mulholland - originally from Glenavy and now based near Bath - ran The Druids Nephew in the race last year but he was pulled up before the 21st fence, having fallen in the 2015 renewal of the world famous marathon.
The Cheltenham Festival is likely to be his primary target this year with stablemates Carole's Destrier and The Young Master the long-term Aintree hopes for the yard.
Mulholland said: "Carole's Destrier could go for the Badger Ales on his first run, then something like the London National after that which he won last year.
"The long-term plan this year is the Grand National.
"The Young Master will be aimed at the Grand National. He might go for the Becher Chase to get a feel of the fences as it would be nice for him to do that before going over them in April.
"The Druids Nephew is just coming back in. He might have a couple of runs then have a break.
"We will be aiming him for the Cheltenham Festival, then, if the ground is right, we might look at the National. We won't be basing his season around the National this year. If the ground comes right Cheltenham will be his first target. We've just backed off him as we brought him in late."
Mulholland also has young talent to look forward to in Southfield Royale, who finished fourth in the National Hunt Chase at the Festival, and Fox Norton, who was a fine third in the Arkle.
The trainer said: "Southfield Royale won his Grade Two last year and has some other very good runs.
"He is not as far forward as the rest of them. Maybe he was a year too young to go for the four-miler at the Festival this year, but we will aim him at a few of the big handicaps.
"There is a 0-150 handicap at the end of October at Ascot for Fox Norton over two miles, then three weeks later there is another at the track, so we will have a look at those."