Kemboy to lead three-pronged Willie Mullins challenge for Irish Gold Cup

Delta Work to take his chance in Irish Gold Cup for Elliott, but it is unclear if Envoi Allen will takes up Dublin Racing Festival options

Ruby Walsh on Kemboy.  Willie Mullins is bidding for  an 11th win in the  Irish Gold Cup, the feature event of the  Dublin Racing Festival

Ruby Walsh on Kemboy. Willie Mullins is bidding for an 11th win in the Irish Gold Cup, the feature event of the Dublin Racing Festival

 

Kemboy will lead a three-pronged Willie Mullins challenge into this Sunday’s Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup as the champion trainer bids for an 11th win in the Dublin Racing Festival’s feature event.

It’s 21 years since Mullins first landed the €250,000 highlight with Florida Pearl. That horse won it three more times, and last season’s winner Bellshill brought up a superb 10th success in the Grade One event his trainer has dominated like no other.

“Kemboy, Bellshill and Cadmium for the Gold Cup,” Mullins indicted at Naas on Sunday, where he secured a 15-1 four-timer on the card.

The festival’s other feature is Saturday’s PCI Irish Champion Hurdle for which final declarations will be made on Thursday, although Mullins nominated his trio of Klassical Dream, Sharjah and Aramon as likely runners.

He also did not rule out another trio of star Grade One performers – Chacun Pour Soi, Cilaos Emery and Min – lining up for Saturday’s Ladbrokes Dublin Chase. “They’re all fit and well, and I hope they remain like that!” he said.

Mullins’s great rival Gordon Elliott was not committing himself to many firm running plans ahead of this weekend’s showpiece festival at Leopardstown where eight Grade One races and over €2 million in prizemoney will be up for grabs.

Elliott is on the verge of beating Mullins to the €3 million prizemoney mark in this season’s trainers championship, although the weekend action could play a significant role in the title’s ultimate destination.

Delta Work will take his chance in the Irish Gold Cup – a race Elliott has yet to win – but whether or not the unbeaten novice star Envoi Allen takes up any of his Dublin Racing Festival options is unclear.

Envoi Allen is entered for both novice events as well as the Irish Champion Hurdle, a race that would mean him leaving the novice ranks for a first time.

“No decision. He’s entered in everything and we’ll see what the story is,” Elliott said at Naas, where he saddled Battle Of Wills to win the opener. “We’ll work them all on Tuesday morning and see what happens.”

Booked his ticket

Leopardstown’s action will serve as a final Cheltenham preparation for many of Ireland’s leading horses, although Carefully Selected booked his ticket for the Cotswolds on Sunday.

The need to qualify Carefully Selected for Cheltenham’s National Hunt Chase meant a quick two-week turnaround since winning at Punchestown, and Mullins’s 4-6 favourite duly won the Grade Three novice event.

It wasn’t without incident though, particularly with a bad error at the third last. Spyglass Hill’s spill at the next fence didn’t hinder Carefully Selected’s recovery, and ultimately he won by four lengths. Bookmakers left him unchanged as a 4-1 favourite for the Cheltenham marathon.

“He makes hard work of it. That’s twice he’d been taken out of a race with what appeared race-ending mistakes but has come back.

“He stays all day and his jumping is generally safe. He doesn’t look the fastest but I think he has more speed than he looks, at least over that sort of trip,” Mullins said.

Carefully Selected’s market rival Ronald Pump never figured, and was afterwards found to have an overreach.

Three in a row

Mullins’s The Big Getaway was an easy maiden hurdle winner at 2-5, and is likely to be targeted at Cheltenham’s Ballymore Hurdle.

The OLBG Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham could include Stormy Ireland, who made it three in a row by landing the Limestone Lad Hurdle.

“She was rated 148 coming into this race so she’s good enough to be entered and run in the Mares at Cheltenham,” Mullins said after Stormy Ireland led home here stable companion Franco De Port.

Billaway was the longest-priced Mullins winner at 9-2 when splitting the JP McManus pair Edwulf and Staker Wallace on the run to the last and quickening up to take the hunters chase by eight lengths. “He looks a Foxhunters type,” the trainer said.

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