Mullins keen on Aranleigh’s Festival chances

TONY MULLINS is relishing the prospect of saddling exciting youngster Aranleigh in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.

Having defeated the highly-regarded Mad Fish on debut, the five-year-old was quickly snapped up by the legendary JP McManus.

And while money continues to pour in for his vanquished rival ahead of the March 14 contest, Mullins sees no reason why his charge will not come out on top again.

“It’s hard to understand how people keep lorrying money onto Mad Fish as I thought we beat him well and we have definitely not disimproved,” he said.

“He’s on target for the bumper but he was supposed to work at Leopardstown after racing on Sunday and that was cancelled.

“I want to work him on grass if possible but it’s been a swamp over here so at the moment we are planning to work him at the Curragh on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, although the work will do us fine it might not tell us much.”

Although Aranleigh has not been seen since his five-length success in January, Mullins has been delighted with his preparation.

“Things have been perfect with him since Fairyhouse. Everything has gone exactly according to plan and he’s been perfect all through,” he added.

“He’s from the family of Gala’s Image and he won the (1987) Arkle so there is speed in him even though he is a full 17 hands.

“He’s a huge horse but he’s a delight to train – he doesn’t pull and seems to be perfect so far.”

Meanwhile, after finishing a close third in the totesport Trophy last time out, Mullins is likely to aim Pedrobob to bid for compensation in the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The nine-year-old also crossed the Irish Sea last November but failed to land the odds when sent off favourite for another Cheltenham handicap.

Although initially disappointed, Mullins now feels the slightly below-par run may have been a blessing in disguise.

“Pedrobob is on course for the County and we have provisionally booked Davy Russell to ride him but 10st could be a problem for him,” he explained.

“I think that (Cheltenham run) was the worst run of his life but it was his first time to travel and his first time in a handicap.

“On the day I was disappointed but looking back on it I don’t think it was that bad a run and he was only beaten a few lengths.

“He’s better in at the weights in England and because of that run he seems to be reasonably well treated – better than some of the other Irish horses anyway.”

Pedrobob was only just over two lengths off scooping a sizeable first prize at Newbury last month.

“You get disappointed when you get so close but the horse ran very well,” he continued.

“You would know he’d had a race at Newbury and he’s only really starting to fire again now but he is that type of horse.

“He’s a horse that can get a bit light after his races and we’re happy enough but he hasn’t yet done any fast work since.

“He’s won on hard ground, he’s won on heavy, and he’s also won on dead ground, so there are no worries there.”

Pedrobob can be backed at 16-1 with Paddy Power to land the final race of the 2007 Festival.

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