Tom Mullins aims to upset Heartbreak City at Leopardstown

That’s A Wrap going for four-in-row, while Un De Sceaux odds-on to defend Ascot Crown

Heartbreak City might look a handicap 'snip' for Sunday's big hurdles prize at Leopardstown but Tom Mullins reckons his big hope, That's A Wrap, could still have something in hand of the handicapper himself.

The Co Kilkenny-based trainer has illustrious family footsteps to follow in the €100,000 Handicap Hurdle.

Mullins’s legendary father, Paddy, won the prestigious handicap back-to-back with Redundant Pal in 1989-90 when it was known as the Ladbroke, while his brother Willie has also scored twice with Adamant Approach (2002) and Abbey Lane in 2013.

This time the ante-post betting is dominated by Tony Martin’s Melbourne Cup runner-up and Ebor winner Heartbreak City, who is a 5/2 favourite with the sponsors to successfully translate his sparkling flat form back over flights off an official hurdles rating of just 125.


In contrast, That’s A Wrap is regarded long-term as a steeplechaser and is rated 2lbs higher than the favourite. He is also going to Leopardstown seeking four-in-a-row after winning at the track over Christmas in a tight finish.

Nevertheless the JP McManus-owned runner is a clear 8/1 second favourite and Mullins rates him his best chance from a potential team of four runners.

Few pounds up his sleeve

"He would be the pick of them, definitely," said the trainer who labelled Ruby Walsh a "genius" after the champion jockey overcome a less than clear run to dramatically win on That's A Wrap by half a length at the Christmas festival.

“Things didn’t work out for Ruby the last day and he still managed to win. So maybe he still has a few pounds up his sleeve,” added Mullins. “He’s a very good horse creeping up the handicap but has a nice weight. He is definitely a chaser for next season and whether that will allow him win a top handicap hurdle like this I don’t know. But I do love the horse.”

Heartbreak City will make his return to action on Sunday after his gallant effort at Flemington in November when just beaten by Almandin. It will be his first start over hurdles since he won at the Galway festival in July.

Willie Mullins has the 8/1 favourite for Sunday's big handicap chase at Leopardstown in the shape of Haymount, although the complexion of both big prizes at the Foxrock track will become clearer after Tuesday's five-stage.

Prior to that, Ireland's champion trainer has his sights firmly on Saturday's Grade One feature at Ascot where Un De Sceaux is already odds-on to make it back-to-back victories in the Berkshire Community Foundation Clarence House Chase.

Eight entries

Last year’s winner is joined by Henry De Bromhead’s Special Tiara in a strong Irish representation among eight entries for the two-mile heat.

The 2014 winner Sire De Grugy was runner-up to Un De Sceaux a year ago and filled the same spot behind the Mullins star in Sandown’s Tingle Creek last month.

Un De Sceaux was immediately made an odds-on favourite, with Sire De Grugy’s stable companion Ar Mad next best at 2/1. Special Tiara is rated a general 10/1 shot.

Boylesports will continue its sponsorship of RTE's racing coverage in 2017. The organisation began its sponsorship in 2014 and the deal involves television, radio, online and mobile. RTE will televise 24 meetings live this year.

In other news, Gordon Elliott has 12 of the 40 entries left in the €100,000 Goffs Thyestes Chase at Gowran later this month. They include the topweight Roi De Francs. The Crafty Butcher is one of half a dozen possibles for Willie Mullins.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column