Mullins to keep up his strike rate


WILLIE MULLINS'S stable star Florida Pearl may be off for the rest of the season but the success rate of the Co Carlow trainer is unlikely to be affected, a point he can ram home with a double at Wexford today.

With the ground drying out all the time, Mullins yesterday ruled out any chance of Florida Pearl being aimed at Punchestown's champion bumper and will instead school the Cheltenham winner over fences before letting him down for the summer.

Florida Pearl will forsake a hurdling career as Mullins is keen to go chasing with him straight away next season but it's the hurdlers Lancastrian Pride and Midnight Cyclone that can add a few shekels to the hardy punter's purse today.

Only four go to post for the opening Rosslare Hurdle where Mullins will send out half the field with stable companion Valentine Gale joining Lancastrian Pride. There was a lot to like about Valentine Gale's second to Pat Hartigan at Leopardstown at the start of the month and also his subsequent second to Windy Bee at Limerick but today's three miles may be more in Lancastrian Pride's favour.

Certainly he needed all of Gowran's two and a half miles to get the better of Dan's Your Man 10 days ago and despite winning a bumper at Fairyhouse before that, stamina has always looked likely to be Lancastrian Pride's strong point.

Midnight Cyclone won her bumper here last July and ran well enough last time to suggest she can add to that in a rather weak looking mares maiden hurdle. Winning track experience is always a plus around this tight circuit.

Local rider David `Doc' O'Connor knows the quirks of the Wexford track better than anyone and he can emphasise the point by getting his father's Gentle Mossy home first in the Gorey Handicap Hurdle.

Gentle Mossy looks to have a reasonable weight considering he didn't run at all badly when third to Super Dealer and Gazalani at Naas in mid-February and while Mariner's Reef will be supported to beat him, Michael McCullagh's horse has been finding it difficult to actually get his head in front.

The Enniscorthy Handicap Chase looks a potential minefield for anybody who gets too heavily involved. Hannies Girl has to carry a penalty for winning at Tramore on Saturday and on Limerick form before that, has little chance of reversing places with Rosdemon. However, both could find Frank Berry's Young Wolf in front of them at the finish. Young Wolfs second to Corriblough at Navan earlier this month was a good effort and it can be rewarded here.

Slavica will like the two and a half miles of the mares bumper, judged on her fourth to Ollimar at Leopardstown and is preferred to Lady Elise while the frustrating Tormond Perk is given one more chance in the Arklow Flat Race. His trainer Aidan O'Brien should have a line to what looks one of the biggest threats, In The Running, fourth to O'Brien's Cloone Bridge last time.

Deposed champion hurdler Collier Bay could make a surprise appearance on the Flat at Haydock on Saturday. Jim Old yesterday entered the seven-year-old in the £12,150-added Daihatsu Conditions Stakes and admitted he may run the gelding as he has been unable to find suitably soft ground over hurdles.