Aidan O’Brien has old familiar territory in his sights

Willie Mullins on track for Japan Cup bid with Simenon, as Ballydoyle master heads for Navan

Galway Plate winner Carlingford Lough, ridden by Tony McCoy, is targeted at Sunday’s Ladbrokes Troytown Chase

Galway Plate winner Carlingford Lough, ridden by Tony McCoy, is targeted at Sunday’s Ladbrokes Troytown Chase


A curious role-reversal could take place on Sunday with Ireland’s champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins flying the flag overseas on the flat with Simenon in the €4.1 million Japan Cup, while the champion flat trainer Aidan O’Brien is in line to return to old familiar territory over the jumps at Navan.

The Master of Ballydoyle has entered the JP McManus-owned Carriganog in Sunday’s Grade Two Irish Form Book Monksfield Hurdle, a €37,500 race for which 11 horses were left in at yesterday’s forfeit stage.

O’Brien last won the Monksfield in 1997 with Promalee during the days when his hugely-successful career as a National Hunt trainer began to be phased out as his profile on the flat began its stratospheric ascent.

Winner of his two hurdles starts to date, at Clonmel and Wexford last month, Carriganog holds a Grade One entry in the Royal Bond Hurdle at Fairyhouse at the start of next month.

Highly-rated Azorian
Also entered in the Monksfield are a trio of Gigginstown Stud-owned horses including the highly-rated Azorian while proven Grade Three-winning form is represented by Lots Of Memories. Noel Meade, winner of the race in two of the last three years, has left in Apache Stronghold.

Aidan O’Brien could also be represented on Sunday by Shield in a maiden hurdle that may see the long-anticipated jumping debut of the Land Rover Bumper winner Moyle Park.

Sunday’s handicap feature is the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase for which 25 remain, including half a dozen McManus-owned horses led by the Galway Plate winner and Kerry National runner-up Carlingford Lough who has topweight. McManus last won the Troytown two years ago with Groody Hill. Before all that, however, on Sunday morning Simenon will bid to become just the second Irish-trained winner of the hugely-prestigious Japan Cup and the horse that finished fourth in the Melbourne Cup earlier this month is apparently thriving on his international travels.

Willie Mullins’s nephew, Emmet, has supervised Simenon during his stay in Australia and now in Tokyo and reported yesterday: “He surprised us every step of the way how he travelled (in the Melbourne Cup.) It was almost unbelievable. He has never flown before so that was a worry but he’s handled it all brilliantly.”

Dunaden and Joshua Tree will also represent Europe in Sunday’s big race which was won by Frank Dunne’s Stanerra in 1983. However, a strong home team includes last year’s winner Gentildonna and the top Japanese four-year-old Gold Ship.