Mullins and Minsk look the pick


RACING:Jockey Danny Mullins can apply some Grade One cement to his new job with top owner Barry Connell if Minsk secures more big-race success at Leopardstown. It will be a first spin on the former Irish Cesarewitch winner for Mullins, nephew of champion trainer, Willie, who secured a major break when appointed Connell’s retained rider recently.

Minsk faces seven opponents in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle including the English raider Buthelezi and the former bumper champion horse Champagne Fever who is on something of a mission to redeem his reputation.

That got a severe dent at Naas a month ago when an under-the-weather Champagne Fever had a lengthy back-view of Minsk, who in turn was well behind Rule The World in the Slaney Hurdle. Champagne Fever will be expected to do much better now but it will be interesting to see if that effort has had an impact.

Minsk’s trainer Dessie Hughes suspects the pace cut out by both his horse and Champagne Fever set the race up for Rule The World and it certainly looked a gruelling clash. Minsk will have a first-time tongue-strap applied today. The slightly better going expected for the hurdles course should suit both Minsk and Dermot Weld’s Waaheb and there could be value in siding with the Hughes runner.

Top amateur Robbie McNamara rides Lord Windeermere for the first time in the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase which will be an acid test of Boston Bob’s Cheltenham credentials. Jumping looks to be Lord Windeermere’s strength and Jim Culloty’s runner may kick-start a good day for McNamara who is on board Quickpick Vic in the bumper, and who looks worth forgiving a heavy odds-on defeat on desperate ground at Limerick over Christmas.

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