Willie Mullins’ charge had little to beat, in an uncompetitive five-runner affair, and went off at odds of 1-5.
He eventually got the job done, cosily enough in the end, but it was a performance which offered few answers and raised plenty of questions.
His jumping technique was rather unsatisfactory. A constant desire to go left at his fences, often well left, isn’t anywhere near good enough for a horse with pretensions to be top class.
He is potentially top class, no doubt about it, and clearly possesses a terrific engine. But he is loaded with kinks and his jumping is surely best described as erratic.
Look at what he did at the second last. Yorkhill, at least to my eyes, just launched himself at the obstacle and seemed to have no idea what he was doing. The fact he arrived safely and comfortably at the other side was almost illogical.
In the end, Yorkhill had a length and a quarter to spare over the unreliable Jett and the bare form is of little account.
It was a puzzling performance from a horse who is, I gather, regarded in the Mullins camp as superior to stable companion, the unlucky Min, who has taken particularly well to fences.
But, maybe, we shouldn’t be overly surprised, considering that Yorkhill has had issues for a while now.
His huge reputation is based on a length and three parts defeat of Yanworth, currently second favourite for the Champion Hurdle, in the Neptune Investment Management Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival in March.
He got the ride of the meeting from Ruby Walsh then, who somehow managed to get him switched off towards the back, before powering Yorkhill into the lead heading to the final flight.
The seven-year-old ran twice last season after that, firstly giving Paul Townend a torrid time, but still managing to land a modest enough Grade 1 at Aintree.
Walsh was back in the saddle for another Grade 1 at the Punchestown festival in late April, but even he could not work the oracle on this occasion.
Going off at 4-9, Yorkhill behaved like a mule, jumping left throughout and literally giving up over the final half mile in finishing a poor fourth of six behind Don’t Touch It.
In the wake of Sunday’s effort some bookmakers were moved to shorten Yorkhill’s price for Cheltenham’s JLT Novices’ Chase, Paddy Power leading the way.
On Sunday morning, the firm were going 7-4 and that had shortened to 6-5 on Monday. Aren’t they the bravest of the brave? Yorkhill was 6-4 with Paddy Power yesterday.
Anyway, we can be certain of one thing, that Mullins will do right by the horse on the lead-in to Cheltenham. The question he is now faced with is does he give him another race? On what we saw at Leopardstown, here’s one who wouldn’t have a euro on Yorkhill right now.
week there was no great problem getting evens Thistlecrack for the Gold Cup, if you were of a mind to come out and play.
Such a price was available, even after some high-profile defections from the race of late, Don Cossack, Coneygree and Valseur Lido.
But, of course, as far as punters are concerned, and indeed the layers as well, their absence makes little or no difference.
The reason is simple, there is hardly a punter out there who would have backed any of the three in any case.
Rightly or wrongly both Don Cossack and Coneygree, winners of the Gold Cup for the last two years, were perceived as crocks, while, on all known evidence, Valseur Lido wasn’t capable of winning if he started the day before.
So, unless you are looking at the contest from a purely cosmetic point of view, the shape of the Gold Cup hasn’t really changed at all.
And on the subject of the Gold Cup, here’s hoping that Henry de Bromhead runs Gigginstown’s Sub Lieutenant in this, rather than the Ryanair Chase. I’ve read that the two miles and five Ryanair is the plan, but surely the real prize should be the target!
Sub Lieutenant was done for speed, admittedly the absence of the final fence was no help, over two and a half miles by Sizing John at Thurles nine days ago.
Look back at his previous outing, in the two-and-a-half-mile John Durkan at Punchestown, and watch the way he runs to the line, after making most of the running.
He is a great jumper and travels beautifully. I believe, however, Sub Lieutenant won’t have the speed for the Ryanair, especially on a decent surface, and, as a half-brother to a Gold Cup winner, Lord Windermere, is at least worthy of serious consideration.
O’Brien recently called for a second all-weather track, to go with Dundalk, to be built in Ireland. O’Brien said if it wasn’t on then Dundalk should be given more fixtures.
Well, wouldn’t that make you smile? Imagine, if we hear over the next two years or so about plans for another all-weather, while the National Hunt brigade continue to suffer long breaks between race meetings in the winter.
We know the entries for Dundalk are strong and you can make a case for additional meetings to be held there.
But, as someone who loves his flat racing, do we really have to suffer more of this stuff? What has been on offer at Dundalk over the last few months has been dreadful, six awful handicaps on the card for instance last night week.
Dundalk is fodder for the betting offices and most self-respecting punters, you suspect, will have little truck with it!
Mind you, we have to accept there is a mug around every corner!