Total Recall’s Gold Cup fall not a factor as National beckons
Willie Mullins says son David will ride Pleasant Company in Grand National
Total Recall: “I’m very happy with the way he’s come out of Cheltenham. He’s been in good form since,” said Mullins. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Willie Mullins is happy the four-week gap Total Recall will have between his Cheltenham Gold Cup appearance and lining up as one of the favourites for Saturday’s Randox Aintree Grand National is enough to allow him show his best.
Total Recall is a 10-1 favourite in some lists to give the champion trainer a second National success 13 years after Hedgehunter in 2005.
Paul Townend will again team up with Total Recall who was still in contention for the Gold Cup last month until crashing out at the third last fence. Mullins also indicated on Tuesday that his nephew, David Mullins, will be on board another of his three-pronged National team, Pleasant Company.
“David rides Pleasant Company. I imagine Paul rides Total Recall and there’s nothing finalised yet about Children’s List,” he said.
David Mullins memorably won the National two years ago on Rule The World and Pleasant Company has National experience too having finished ninth to One For Arthur last year.
“He made quite a bad mistake but showed he was handling the track very well up to that point. Stamina shouldn’t be an issue: he’s won a Bobbyjo Chase so he should be fine,” the trainer said of Pleasant Company who has failed to fire in just two starts this season.
In contrast Total Recall is enjoying the best season of his career having been transferred to Mullins in the summer. Three wins in a row included the Munster National and the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy) before his Gold Cup mishap.
Mullins isn’t concerned about any potential impact from that effort, or that Total Recall is about to attempt racing’s most famous jumping test on the back of a fall.
“I’m very happy with the way he’s come out of Cheltenham. He’s been in good form since,” he said. “I don’t know what the statistics are like with that but I’m not worried he fell the last day. He’s generally a good jumper. And ground won’t be an issue.”
With Footpad absent, Mullins’s Liverpool team will consist of just two other runners. Polidam will be ridden by Daryl Jacob in Friday’s Topham over the big National fences and Min is set to line up in the Grade One JLT Melling Chase on the same day.
With soft ground conditions predicted for Saturday the mud-loving Irish contender Baie Des Iles has been back down to 20-1 to give jockey Katie Walsh a historic National success.
Walsh came closest to becoming the first woman to ride a National winner when third on Seabass in 2012 and is set for her sixth ride in the world’s most famous steeplechase.
Baie Des Iles is trained by Walsh’s husband, Ross O’Sullivan, and the jockey said: “She did a nice piece of work towards the end of last week and everything has gone smoothly with her.
“She has plenty of form on heavy ground but she has a good action and I think better ground wouldn’t be too much of an issue either. We’re counting down the day and I’m looking forward to riding in the race again, especially for Ross.”
Less than 90 minutes before the National ‘off’ time it will be classic considerations which will be the focus of attention at Leopardstown.
Both Europe’s champion two-year-olds in 2017, US Navy Flag and Gustav Klimt are among nine entries left in the Listed Ballylinch Stud 2,000 Guineas Trial.
The reputation of the Group Three PW McGrath Ballysax Stakes as a stepping stone to Group One success was boosted in the last couple of years when the subsequent dual-Derby hero Harzand and the Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling were both victorious in it.
Aidan O’Brien has seven of the dozen entries left in after Tuesday’s forfeit stage and they look to include some of Ballydoyle’s top Derby contenders.
The Pentagon is already a 10-1 second favourite behind his stable companion Saxon Warrior for the Derby in June.
Also in the Ballysax mix are the Beresford Stakes runner-up Delano Roosevelt, the impressive Zetland winner Kew Gardens and James Cook, a full brother to the Arc heroine Found.
Saturday’s other Group Three is the 1,000 Guineas Trial which last year saw a dramatic finish between the subsequent prolific Group One pair, Hydrangea and Winter.
Ballydoyle have half a dozen fillies left in the race this time while Jessica Harrington could give Alpha Centauri her first start of the year in the seven-furlong event.