THE almost tidal wave of winners that is flowing from the Willie Mullins stable shows no sign of abating.
Mullins continued his impressive form when he rattled off yet another three-timer at Clonmel on Thursday, a burst that included strong showings from Ut De Sivola and Blackstairmountain.
The French import Ut De Sivola set the ball rolling in the opening juvenile maiden hurdle. Ground conditions were testing in the extreme however, this made little difference to Ruby Walsh’s mount as he came from mid division to lead at the second last flight and draw clear to win unchallenged by seven and a half lengths from Bat Masterson, with 29 lengths back to the third finisher Music On D Waters.
While one swallow never makes a Summer there was a lot to like about the display of the winner in what was his first run on Irish soil. He jumped well and quickened up impressively when the question was popped. Mullins intimated that he will probably give the Christmas meetings a miss as he felt that his charge had a hard enough race due to the conditions and look for a winners contest in the New Year.
The former Grade One winning hurdler Blackstairmountain got off the mark at the first time of asking with a smooth success in the two mile and a furlong beginners chase. In what looked to be a fairly ordinary contest the son of Imperial Ballet went to post an odds-on favourite. He was always travelling well and came for his race going to the second last fence.
A mistake here cost him some ground but he was soon back on an even keel. Rider Ruby Walsh did not have to get serious with his charge to land the spoils by three lengths from Marble House, with the Mouse Morris runner Shane Rock a further length and a quarter back in third place. A winners’ contest over a similar trip is the next objective, but it will come as a surprise if the six-year-old is not on the team for the Cheltenham festival in March.
The other beginners chase, this time over two mile and four, also fell to the Mullins yard courtesy of Allee Grande. A dual scorer over hurdles, the six-year-old French-bred was having his first taste of the major obstacles but there was plenty of confidence behind him. Ruby Walsh allowed him to stride on after less than a mile as he was pulling the arms out him and from there he made the rest to beat his main market rival Son Amix by a couple of lengths with the Tom Foley runner Dariak 27 lengths further adrift in third position.
According to Mullins his charge has no stamina problems and a step up in trip is likely with the good staying novice chases in mind. He is a nice actioned horse and connections are of the opinion that he will be better when he encounters better underfoot conditions.
Trainer Dessie Hughes has a hurdling career mapped out for Inish Island which just got the better of the Edward O’Grady representative Crocus Bay in the bumper. Off the track for almost a year, the Trans Island gelding had a following in the betting market even though he played second fiddle to Crocus Bay.
Rider Robbie McNamara tucked him in behind the leaders before throwing down the gauntlet to Crocus bat at the two furlong marker. From there to the finish the pair slogged it out with Inish Island shading the verdict by a head. Both animals were almost unconscious in the conditions and it will be interesting to see if their efforts leave a mark - only time will tell.
Conditions in Cork were equally demanding on Sunday where Ronnie O’Neill, Eoin Doyle and Willie Mullins all recorded victories.
Kells-based O’Neill has enjoyed plenty of success with progeny of his resident stallion Stowaway and made it a family affair as he saddled Rory O’Moore to take the bumper with his son John in the plate.
Getting a flyer at the start, Rory O’Moore never saw another rival and he came home ten lengths ahead of his nearest rival Hasty Times. A fine big horse, the six-year-old showed the ground did not bother him. Being out of a Turtle Island mare a longer trip in the such conditions would be right up his alley.
The 21 runner two mile and a half handicap hurdle looked a tricky contest but it produced a clear winner in the shape of the Eoin Doyle-trained Lookoutnow. Partnered by 5lb claimer Michael Butler the Beneficial gelding, which was bred by Freddie Williams, made every post a winning one to beat Really Unique by a length and a half. He looked a relentless galloper and is capable of adding to this success in similar conditions.
Willie Mullins will hardly saddle a luckier winner this season than Golden Silver, which completed a hat-trick of victories in the Grade Three Hilly Way chase over an extended two miles.
The rank outsider Osirixamix looked to have the race at his mercy until he tipped up at the final fence, leaving Golden Silver free to stroll home by 28 lengths in the hands of Emmet Mullins.