Rule The World’s stamina could bring win for Morris in Kerry
Line-up for Kerry National includes five horses from Michael O’Leary and Willie Mullins
Rule the World’s ability to act on soft should be a major plus in Guinness Kerry National. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
It is 40 years since Mouse Morris won the Guinness Kerry National as a jockey and Rule The World can bridge the long gap in Listowel’s festival showpiece for the popular Co Tipperary- based trainer.
A field of 18 are due to line up for the €175,000 prize, a field which indicates accusations of exclusivity can hardly be confined just to the top echelons of the flat racing sphere.
Rule The World is one of five runners for Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud. Champion trainer Willie Mullins has also declared five and JP McManus has to content himself with a “mere” four.
Last year’s winner Your Busy leads the remainder against National Hunt racing’s big guns but they will all have to tackle very testing conditions which were only judged fit for racing after an inspection yesterday.
Despite a dry weather outlook, conditions will continue to be monitored and although having to carry joint-topweight, Rule The World’s proven stamina and ability to act on soft should be a major plus.
The fact top claimer David Mullins takes 3lbs off, in a race where just a stone covers the field, is another plus, especially since his sole ride on the horse yielded a fine second in April’s Irish National.
The Paparrazi Kid wound up second in the plate and is Ruby Walsh’s pick from the Mullins team while Paul Townend is on board Urano.
But Morris, winner in 1975 on Black Mac, who beat then Aintree Grand National title-holder L’Escargot, is heavily represented too, with four runners, although Rule The World looks the number one.
A Morris victory, less than four months after the tragic death of his son, Christopher, would be hugely popular and would light up this disrupted festival.
Mullins has Laviniad in the Listed flat feature but in the conditions Stuccodor could survive best, although Mullins and Stuccodor’s jockey Pat Smullen can combine successfully in the opener with Laws of Spin.
Veteran jockey David Casey will be expected to end his riding career with a winner when the long odds-on favourite Long Dog lines up in the four-runner novice hurdle.
Prior to it Casey will also be on board the topweight Alelchi Inois in the Kerry National but Ruby Walsh has stepped aside to allow his 39-year-old friend and colleague team up with Long Dog.
Casey’s extensive big-race CV includes back-to-back victories in the French Champion Hurdle with Nobody Told Me and Rule Supreme (2003-04) as well as Cheltenham Festival win on Rule Supreme in the 2004 RSA and Fadoudal Du Cochet in the 2002 Grand Annual.
Casey is quitting the saddle to become an assistant to Willie Mullins with whom he first tasted big-race success on Mystical City in the 1996 Galway Hurdle.