Willie Mullins set for late title push
Willie Mullins says "everything is in the mix" as he prepares his final assault on a first British trainers' championship with Vautour entered in the Bet365 Oaksey Chase at Sandown on Saturday.
The easy Ryanair Chase winner could bid to make amends for an expensive fall at Aintree, where he was a long odds-on favourite. Mullins has also entered Ballycasey, Sir Des Champs, Valseur Lido and Vroum Vroum Mag in the extended two-mile-six-furlong contest.
Defending champion Paul Nicholls - who led Mullins by £45,380 at the close of play yesterday - could call on Art Mauresque, former champion chaser Dodging Bullets, Rocky Creek, Saphir Du Rheu and Wonderful Charm. Al Ferof, Bishops Road and Menorah are others among the 21 entered.
In the Bet365 Select Hurdle, Mullins and Nicholls have eight of the 17 entries.
Shaneshill and Vroum Vroum Mag are the pick of the Mullins possibles, with Ptit Zig and Silsol heading up the Nicholls team.
However, they all might have to go some to beat The New One, who skipped the Scottish Champion Hurdle in favour of this.
Diamond King, Maximiser, Vaniteux and If In Doubt add further spice.
The feature Bet365 Celebration Chase, set to feature Sprinter Sacre and Un De Sceaux, has been reopened after only nine entries were received, while Nicholls and Mullins have entries in all the other races on what is the finale of the season in Britain.
Mullins said: "They're all just entries at the moment. I haven't had a chance to look through them yet, so I'll do that at some stage and see where we are."
Asked how likely Vautour was to make an appearance at Sandown, he added: "Everything is in the mix at the moment."
Mullins also confirmed his next runners in Britain would be at Perth tomorrow. He also has Miss Me Now entered in a mares novices' hurdle at Taunton on the same afternoon, but she will not take up that engagement.
Richard Fahey saddled 235 winners last year and continued his flying start to 2016 with a near 131-1 treble at Pontefract, courtesy of Springwood, Spring Offensive and Arcano Gold.
Fahey's assistant Robin O'Ryan said: "Springwood has come on for his first run. He did a little bit too much at Doncaster. He did it nicely here and he was tough.
"I think he'll make a nice nursery horse.
"Spring Offensive didn't run badly in the Irish Lincoln, but the ground was bottomless.
"He got a bit starry when he'd been in the front, that's all. We'll keep him to these types of races."
"We dropped Arcano Gold back to a mile and it's paid off."