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Mullins gives the rest a chance

By Chris McGrath

Having won seven of the 14 races staged in Ireland over the weekend, Willie Mullins gave his rivals some respite at Limerick yesterday.

The champion trainer scratched one of only two declared runners, leaving the rest a clear run at six other prizes.

Needless to say, Mullins duly won with the one — Catleen — that did line up, and he certainly looks as though he means business on a valuable card at Gowran Park today.

For a start, he saddles four contenders for the Goffs Thyestes Chase, a race which produced future Grand National winners in 2004 and 2005, namely Hedgehunter (trained by Mullins) and Numbersixvalverde.

But perhaps his most fascinating runner at the meeting is Zaidpour, who tries three miles for the first time in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle.

This event is run in memory of a cherished character on the Irish Turf. After a long illness, Mulhern died just before the 2010 Cheltenham Festival — where he had saddled Galmoy to win the Stayers Hurdle in 1987 and 1988.

Galmoy's achievement has since been surpassed by Big Buck's, already odds-on to win the equivalent race, now the World Hurdle, for a fourth year running in March.

But today's experiment opens the way for Zaidpour, whose novice season proved such an anti-climax over two miles, to introduce fresh blood to the division.

Having twice outclassed rivals in a lesser grade since his return, now Zaidpour faces his moment of truth against that hugely talented and reliable mare Voler La Vedette — the unwitting focus of controversy, of course, when a malfunctioning software programme exposed a Betfair client to a potential payout of £600m when she won at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting.

An interesting afternoon also features the return to action of AP McCoy at Warwick.

McCoy has missed nearly four weeks after breaking ribs and puncturing a lung in a fall at Taunton.

The Ulsterman is still on course for a 17th consecutive championship with 174 winners, 61 clear of Richard Johnson.

The globe-trotting Presvis is in action at Meydan in the Dubai Duty Free Al Rashidiya Stakes which he won last year.

Belfast Telegraph

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