Footpad will miss Fairyhouse Gold Cup to run at Aintree

Mullins’ pair Bellshill and Apairofbrowneyes are on track for Irish Grand National

Footpad won’t run at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival for Willie Mullins. Photo: Getty Images

Footpad won’t run at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival for Willie Mullins. Photo: Getty Images

 

Easter Sunday’s Ryanair Gold Cup remains a rare Grade One blank on Willie Mullins’s glittering CV and although Footpad will miss it the champion trainer is still set to attack the race in force.

Plans for Footpad to take his chance in the contest formerly known as the Powers Gold Cup have been shelved with the Arkle hero waiting instead for the Aintree festival.

“Connections (Simon Munir and Isaac Souede) are keen to go to Liverpool instead. They’re not often in England and they’re going to Liverpool so that’s that decision made,” Mullins said on Tuesday.

Footpad’s most likely Aintree options appears to be the Maghull Novices Chase over two miles and the Manifesto Novices Chase over two and a half.

It means a keenly anticipated clash between Footpad and his old rival Petit Mouchoir won’t happen this weekend. It also leaves Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud team in a strong position with the big-race sponsor also set to run the JLT heroine Shattered Love.

Both feature among a total of 15 entries left in the Easter Sunday highlight. Eight of them are trained by Mullins who lost out in the race last year when Yorkhill’s wayward performance handed victory to the O’Leary owned Road To Respect.

Trainer’s title

“It’s a race we’ve been a little unlucky in over the years,” said Mullins whose options this time include Al Boum Photo, whose second last fence fall in the RSA left Ruby Walsh on the injury sidelines, and the mare Asthuria.

Mullins has also famously never won the Boylesports Irish Grand National and Easter Monday’s €500,000 feature is especially important this year in the context of his struggle with Gordon Elliott for the trainer’s title.

Elliott has a €521,626 prizemoney lead at the moment and has predicted he could have up to a dozen runners in the National.

“I haven’t really looked at the race yet but hopefully we’ll be able to run a good few. Bellshill would look the top one of ours. Apairofbrowneyes will run too,” Mullins said.

Bellshill and Apairofbrowneyes are 9-1 joint-favourites with the National sponsor. Boylesports have the Elliott pair, Folsom Blue and Monbeg Notorious, next on their list as 12-1 chances.

The prospect of the wide-margin Cheltenham winner Laurina lining up in Sunday’s Grade One Irish Stallion Farms Mares Novice Hurdle will encourage many to Fairyhouse and she features among 14 left in the €100,000 contest after Tuesday’s forfeit stage.

Dan Skelton’s Momella and Emma Lavelle’s Woolstone One are two cross-channel trained possibles left in a race that also includes Elliott’s Lackaneen Leader.

Showers

Sunday’s third six-figure race is the Tattersalls Bumper which has 37 left in it. They include Jessica Harrington’s impressive Leopardstown winner, Sizing Pottsie.

“The ground here is currently soft to heavy with a mixture of sunshine and showers forecast for the remainder of the week,” reported the Fairyhouse manager, Peter Roe.

At total of 21 horses remain in Sunday’s Grade Two Easter Festival Novice Hurdle. Among them are the Elliott trained Cheltenham festival winner, Blow By Blow, and two of Mullins’s most high profile novices. the Ballymore third, Next Destination, and Getabird.

The latter started a 7-4 favourite for the Supreme at Cheltenham but ran too free and could eventually finish only eleventh behind Summerville Boy.

In other news Aidan O’Brien’s Mendelssohn is a general 5-2 second favourite for this Saturday’s UAE Derby at Meydan.

The Ballydoyle trainer also plans to run Seahenge and Threeandfourpence in the race as he plots a course towards the Kentucky Derby in May. Godolphin’s own Kentucky Derby hope, Gold Town, is a 6-4 favourite for Saturday’s race.

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