Mullins delighted with progress of Melbourne Cup hope, Max Dynamite

Champion trainer to launch third bid to win ‘the race that stops a nation’

 Frankie Dettori celebrates riding Max Dynamite to victory in  The  Lonsdale Cup at Yor in August. Photo:  Alan Crowhurst/Getty

Frankie Dettori celebrates riding Max Dynamite to victory in The Lonsdale Cup at Yor in August. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty

 

A day after the Curragh’s 2015 finish comes Punchestown’s first meeting of the new jumps campaign with the ‘changing-of-the-seasons’ theme reinforced by Willie Mullins having no runner at the home of Irish National Hunt racing. Instead he is flying home from Australia after checking out his Melbourne Cup hope, Max Dynamite.

Ireland’s dominant jumps trainer made a visit Down Under to inspect his hope for ‘the race that stops a nation’ and was delighted with what he found three weeks ahead of Australia’s most famous race.

This week

Frankie Dettori

“I know he has Breeders Cup commitments but he still should be able to make it here.”

It will be Mullins’s third attempt to win one of the world’s most famous flat races.

Holy Orders ran out of the money in 2003 but Simenon was a fine fourth to Fiorente in 2013 and Australian bookmakers rate Max Dynamite a fourth favourite despite the horse being labelled a “failed jumper” in one local report.

The Lonsdale Cup winner was bought by Mullins after a flat career in France that saw him finish eighth in the 2013 Prix Du Jockey Club and although Max Dynamite’s jumping career has failed to take off in comparison he did manage fourth in last March’s County Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Busy time

The Melbourne Cup favourite, Fame Game, is set to run in this Saturday’s Caulfield Cup, the first of series of major international contests in Melbourne which continue with the following week’s Cox Plate.

Aidan O’Brien’s Highland Reel is one of a trio of European hopefuls for a race won by Adelaide in 2014. Gailo Chop is the French hope for Australia’s top all-aged top middle distance race while Arod will represent Peter Chapple Hyam.

O’Brien has his own pair of Melbourne Cup hopes himself in Bondi Beach and Kingfisher and he will be represented by Shield at Punchestown today in a handicap chase.

Admittedly the €16,000 pot is small fry compared to Saturday’s QEII on British Champions Day at Ascot which will see O’Brien walk the track the day before to check out ground conditions for Gleneagles.

“If the ground is okay, he will run,” said a Ballydoyle statement. “If not, permission will be sought from Southwell racecourse to work Gleneagles there, before a possible tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”

Ground conditions for Punchestown’s card will be unseasonable with watering required to stop it getting too quick. But that shouldn’t bother Galway festival hero Modem in the three-runner conditions hurdle.

Old Supporter was in the midst of drama on his last start at Roscommon when Danny Mullins memorably helped Jody McGarvey back into the saddle after a bad mistake. Denis Cullen’s runner will have to jump better here but should relish the ground.

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