Mullins’ double boost
After a quiet start, the string of Willie Mullins are gradually finding their stride and the champion trainer yesterday gave an upbeat report about two of his big stars.
According to Mullins, chasing hopeful Mikael D'Haguenet and Champion Hurdle contender Hurricane Fly both came through a racecourse gallop with flying colours.
Mikael D'Haguenet has been sidelined since the spring of 2009 when he won Grade One novice hurdles at Cheltenham and Punchestown.
The six-year-old delighted connections in a schooling session over fences after racing at Punchestown on Sunday. He will soon soon begin a novice chase campaign, with the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse on Sunday week a possible starting point.
“Mikael rode out this morning and seems fine, so we're very pleased,” said Mullins yesterday. “He went very well and Paul (Townend) was thrilled with the way he jumped, so I was happy.”
Hurricane Fly has also had some minor injury problems and was restricted to just two starts last season, in which he signed off with an impressive display in Punchestown's Rabobank Champion Hurdle.
Mullins had initially targeted Sunday's Dobbins & Madigans at Punchestown Hurdle as his comeback target, but instead worked his charge after racing.
On what looks set to be a crucial day for the champion trainer, Hurricane Fly could join Mikael D'Haguenet at Fairyhouse and contest the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle over two and a half miles.
“The Hatton's Grace is the plan at the moment and the trip shouldn't be a problem. As a four-year-old in France he was running over nearly two and a half miles,” the Carlow trainer said.
Mullins, meanwhile, is eyeing a step-up to Grade One company with Zaidpour after his hugely impressive display at Punchestown on Saturday.
The four-year-old was snapped up by the champion trainer to run in juvenile events last season, but was forced to miss the campaign after suffering a cut to his leg. However, the half-brother to top-class hurdler Zaynar looks intent on making up for lost time, judged by his brilliant Irish debut at the weekend.
“We've entered him in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse at the end of the month (November 27) and after seeing the way he jumped the other day, he might well take his chance,” said the champion trainer.”
Meanwhile, Paul Carberry hopes to be back in action at the weekend after breaking a bone in a foot at Navan earlier this month.
With his boss Noel Meade saddling two big-race winners at Punchestown on Sunday, Carberry is itching to get back in the saddle.
“I'm going for a check-up on Friday and then we'll see if I'm ready for the weekend,” said Carberry.