Sicilian cut for Bumper bid after Leopardstown gallop

WILLIE Mullins’ Sicilian Secret came in for plenty of support following a stylish piece of work after racing at Leopardstown yesterday and is now 4-1 favourite with William Hill and Cashmans for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

A whole host of equine stars headed to the south Dublin track to complete their final preparations ahead of the Cheltenham Festival, and it was Mullins who dominated proceedings with 18 individuals stretching their legs.

The champion trainer worked eight bumper horses in total with the Patrick Mullins-ridden Sicilian Secret – a recent winner at the circuit – getting the better of Ruby Walsh aboard the ridden-along Quel Esprit.

Meath All Star (Paul Townend) finished strongly behind the pair with Not For Converting (David Casey) bringing up the rear.

Mullins also worked Gagewell Flyer (Walsh) who was pushed out to finish upsides Casey and the strong-travelling Cranky Corner, with Cadspeed and Glenlo Abbey in behind.

Last year’s Ballymore Properties’ Hurdle winner Fiveforthree led a handful of his stablemates in Mullins’ first gallop with Walsh content to coast past the line on Kempes, who was cut to 8-1 from 10s with Cashmans for the Supreme Novices’.

Last of Mullins’ horses onto the track were his chasers with RSA favourite Cooldine (Walsh), Golden Silver (Townend), Jayo (Casey), Scotsirish (Patrick Mullins), Taipan’s Way (Barry Geraghty) and J’y Vole (John Cullen) all in attendance.

The six did a circuit of the track jumping several fences, with Cooldine brushing through the final obstacle to finish just behind the Arkle-bound Golden Silver with Champion Chase and Ryanair-entered Scotsirish bustled up to come between the pair.

Mullins said: “Ruby was happy with Kempes but said he needed it.

“Ruby blamed himself for Cooldine missing the last but the horse righted himself and in the main jumped well.

“I didn’t bring Quinola des Obeaux as he has done plenty at home and Cousin Vinny worked very well yesterday morning as did Mikael D’Haguenet.

“Both are in the picture but there is no decision about which races they run in.”

Sublimity, winner of the 2007 Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle, stretched well clear of stablemate Kong in the hands of jockey Philip Carberry, with fellow Champion Hurdle contenders Hardy Eustace and Won In The Dark both doing a circuit with one other.

JCB Triumph Hurdle entry Ebadiyan blew away the cobwebs in company with a stablemate, while Davy Russell enjoyed a solo spin on Made In Taipan ahead of their date in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.

Classic-winning Flat jockey Seamus Heffernan rode a piece of work on James Leavy’s Abroad and will partner the five-year-old should he make the cut for the bumper.

Noel Meade supplied a strong contingent including his Champion Hurdle hope Jered, who has been off the track since finishing third behind Hardy Eustace in November.

Meade said: “I was very happy with him and was delighted with his work on the good ground.

“I would have loved to run him at Christmas but we decided he wouldn’t run on soft ground. The ground ended up not being too bad but he wasn’t ready to run.

“He could have done with another start under his belt against top-class opposition but is on course to join Harchibald and Muirhead in the race.

“You haven’t seen Harchibald for a while but I am very happy with him and he is in great shape.”

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