Hot on the heels of his four timer on Saturday, Willie Mullins dominated the second day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown, too, with a five timer. His three Grade 1 wins included Monkfish who extended his unbeaten record over fences with another dominant display. Last season's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle winner made all and jumped flawlessly throughout. An eleven lengths winner, he once again proved far too strong for old rival Latest Exhibition and is now a short price ante-post favourite for the Festival Chase at Cheltenham next month. Effective over two and a half and three miles, he looks a Gold Cup horse in waiting.
Appreciate It also made it three out of three this season when winning the Grade 1 novice hurdle. Impressive in a similar event over C&D at Christmas, he didn't jump with the same fluency this time around but still proved three and a quarter lengths too good for Ballyadam. The runner-up ran much better than had been the case in late December and remains a high-class novice. Gordon Elliott's gelding is crying out for drier ground and that may prove his only hope of turning the tables on Mullins' winner. There were plenty of encouraging performances in behind with the Cheltenham Festival in mind. I will keep quiet over those for the time being and save my thoughts for the Festival Update.
I was delighted to see Donald McCain send out a double at Musselburgh - he has had a terrific couple of days north of the border and his interview was an excellent addition to the February Update. Fiveandtwenty made it three from three over hurdles in the Listed Scottish Triumph Hurdle and is likely to head next to Aintree in April. Bareback Jack is also unbeaten in three runs over timber winning the Scottish Supreme Novices' Hurdle. The latter is a fine prospect and another ex-Colin Bowe trained inmate who was bought for £70,000 last spring. A two and a quarter lengths winner under Brian Hughes, he holds an entry in the Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham but it remains to be seen whether the Getaway gelding will line up. Despite the fact his latest two wins have been gained on soft ground, his trainer is adamant he will be even better on a sounder surface. He ought to make a cracking novice chaser next term.
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