Maestro Mullins working his magic with ‘interesting’ Warrior

One of the more interesting horses in training right now is Willie Mullins’ Clondaw Warrrior.

Maestro Mullins working his magic with ‘interesting’ Warrior

What makes him interesting is that he is undoubtedly massively progressive, but is also owned by a group called the Act D Wagg Syndicate, comprising five members who are of the female persuasion.

Two of the syndicate are the wives of jockeys, Gillian Walsh, wife of Ruby, and Aine Casey, wife of David.

Clondaw Warrior used to be trained by Shark Hanlon and won three bumpers and a maiden hurdle for him.

The last occasion he ran for Hanlon was in a handicap hurdle at Downpatrick in August of last year, finishing second to Magnetic Force.

He then disappeared off the radar, until popping up in 14 furlongs handicap at Tramore last month, now in Mullins’ care, getting into the contest as a reserve.

Clondaw Warrior was competing off a paltry mark of 52 and his chance was rather obvious, as long as he retained a fair amount of ability.

The market, through the morning, soon revealed that plenty clearly believed that was very much the case and he was a fair order, finally going off at 8-11 to beat 11 rivals.

In the ordinary course of events being an odds-on shot to win a handicap would be nothing short of ridiculous.

But the only thing that was ridiculous was how easily he won, hardly turning a hair to score unextended by eight lengths.

Mullins rarely turns out horses quickly, but knew that Clondaw Warrior was set to face a big hike in the weights, it was actually 22lbs, and so ran him again two days later at Roscommon.

In theory, Clondaw Warrior had 17lbs in hand and defeat seemed out of the question.

He left the stalls as a 2-9 shot and proceeded to be beaten half a length into second by Charlie Swan’s Grandma Dotty.

If he couldn’t win off a mark of 57 then what hope had he off his new rating of 74? The logical answer was none.

But you are dealing with the maestro Mullins here and he duly afforded his inmate a break of 21 days and brought him back at Galway last Monday evening.

Colin Keane was in the plate for this apprentice handicap and he produced the seven-year-old from way off the pace to breeze through late and score with loads in hand.

And so the handicapper then felt obliged, perfectly understandably, to have another go at Clondaw Warrior and slapped him with a further 13lbs rise in the weights.

He is now on 87, which is 35lbs higher than when winning at the first time of asking for Mullins at Tramore.

That means he will be able to get into the better flat handicaps and there’s also, of course, the option of heading back over jumps.

Clondaw Warrior was rated a modest 112 when last seen over flights, so what price will he be when told to run in a handicap hurdle again? As tight as a duck’s you know what, I’ll bet!

Isn’t Gordon Lord Byron an extraordinary horse and an absolute credit to his trainer, Tom Hogan?

At Haydock last Saturday, in a Group 1, he was only mugged late on and beaten three parts of a length into second by G Force.

Gordon Lord Byron really is one of the great rags-to-riches stories and it is hard to credit the distance he has travelled.

The first race he ever won was as a three-year-old, when taking a maiden at Dundalk in October of 2011. He was a 14-1 shot.

Hogan’s charge then went back to Dundalk the following month and landed a handicap at 7-1.

He was rated 78 then and is now on a mark of 116 and one of the best sprinters in these islands.

The Haydock contest was his 40th race in all and he has won ten times, seven on turf, and three on the all weather.

Remarkably, he is a three-time Group 1 winner, including at Rosehill in Australia.

Gordon Lord Byron has, quite simply, put Hogan on the map and no one would begrudge him another success at Leopardstown today.

Connections of a horse called War Of The Pennys - he is trained by Michael Cullen - are entitled to feel that the vagaries of racing have not been overly kind to them.

At Tramore last month, War Of the Pennys was disqualified in controversial circumstances and placed second after beating Meldrum Lad by a short head.

Then the handicapper, in his infinite wisdom, decided that a rise of just 1lb was appropriate for War Of The Pennys. And lo and behold what happened next? Well, the six-year-old went to Kilbeggan and, in a driving finish, got beaten a short head by Swiftmarc. Ah, this can be a cruel game indeed!

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