Irish Eyes: Twin threat
Our Irish Eyes column strikes a familiar tone with Willie Mullins all set to mop up the big races at Naas today.
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Another Sunday rolls around and, at the risk of sounding repetitive; it is likely that Willie Mullins will be driving home this evening having annexed all three Grade Two races!
Fresh from a four-timer at Fairyhouse yesterday, Mullins is aiming for a fourth successive win in the Grade Two Novice Hurdle.
Two of his last three winners of this race have been mares and he launches a two-pronged attack on today's race with his mare likely to go off very well supported, possibly even as the favourite.
However it is the top weight and likely second favourite City Slicker that gets the nap vote. Currently trading at 9/4 with Sky Bet, City Slicker was an impressive winner at Punchestown on his last start giving four pounds to the very decent yard stick Un Beau Matin.
He was a disappointing favourite on his penultimate run at Ascot when he was ridden prominently under today's jockey, Tony McCoy. Paul Townend then took over at Punchestown where hold-up tactics were to prove much more effective. It is slightly disconcerting to see the hood has been applied for the first time today, considering he is dropping back in trip to two miles here and he can be very keen, but it would take a brave man to question any Willie Mullins decision this season.
It could well be that they will change tactics again today and attempt to revert to type by making most of the running.
Vicky De L'Oasis is the other Mullins contender. Having failed to concede eleven pounds on her last start to, wait for it, yet another Willie Mullins-trained winner, she is today in receipt of eleven pounds from her stablemate and with Ruby Walsh in the plate, her chances are obvious.
Nevertheless, her 130-rating seems a little excessive given her latest two runs were in mares company and despite the fact that Walsh is undoubtedly worth an extra pound or two given he rides the Irish tracks better than McCoy, it will be disappointing if City Slicker does not possess sufficient class to get the job done.
Mozoltov is trading at 1/5 at the time of writing for the Grade Two Nas Na Roigh Novice Chase and given he is sixteen pounds well in on official rating with Folsom Blues, he can't be opposed.
Given he is 1/5, he also cannot be put forward as a selection, other than in a treble.
The only other contender is the very well placed Walsh-owned, trained and ridden mare Summer Star. She will simply be content to pop around, collect a minimum of €3,600 in prizemoney and earn some valuable black-type which will enhance her future paddock value as well as being one run closer to getting a handicap mark - all in all, an excellent day's work.
The third Grade Two race of the afternoon is yet another three-runner affair and the two highest rated horses in the field are both attempting to atone for defeats in the UK on their last starts.
Days Hotel finished fourth behind Sire de Grugy in a Grade One at Ascot last month while Twinlight was beaten by a similar margin when third to Captain Chris at Kempton.
However, on their penultimate starts, Twinlight and Days Hotel took each other on off levels in the Grade Two Hilly Way Chase at Cork and the Willie Mullins-trained horse came out well on top that day. There is no reason to see how that form can be turned around today.
Twinlight can be forgiven his latest run. Going into that Kempton race, he was coming off three straight wins, but he never really travelled at all on his first trip to England. He also dwelt and ran without his usual zest on his only previous trip outside of Ireland for Mullins when finishing fifth at Auteuil.
Not every horse can cope with the hustle and bustle with travelling overseas and being away from his usual environment and that may well be the case with Twinlight.
Toner D'Oudairies has every chance as his trainer's string remain in excellent form and he should put it up to the favourite but Twinlight is taken to score.
Nap: City Slicker, 3.25.
Next Best: Twinlight, 4.00.
Trixie: Mozoltov, 2.50.