Mullins saddles first five-timer of his career

Willie Mullins saddled the first five-timer (at cumulative odds of 952/1) of his illustrious training career at Punchestown yesterday.

As well as taking the featured Grade 2 Tied Cottage Chase with Golden Silver, the champion trainer was also successful with Some Target, Gagewell Flyer, Raptor and Celtic Folklore, providing Paul Townend with the first four-timer of his career, before Mullins’ son Patrick rounded off a day described by the trainer as “fantastic” in the bumper.

Mullins won five of the six races run, following the cancellation yesterday morning of the cross-country event due to ground conditions.

Mullins notched his second Grade 2 success on the card when Gagewell Flyer and Paul Townend made every yard of the running to complete a hurdling hat-trick in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle.

Dropping back to two miles, the seven-year-old Deploy gelding dictated the pace, jumping well, and looked set for a clear-cut success when forging clear of Tornado Shay and Joe Smooth approaching the final flight.

At this stage, the winner’s stable-companion, French import Earlson emerged from the pack and, on the run-in, stayed on stoutly to get within a neck of the 13/8 favourite, the Mullins pair pulling ten lengths clear of the third, Tornado Shay.

“I’m delighted with both horses,” stated Mullins, “Gagewell Flyer dropped back to two miles to get more experience of jumping in a faster race. Paul was delighted with his jumping and he’ll go straight to Cheltenham now, for the Neptune Investemnts Novice Hurdle.”

Sandwiched between the two Grade 2 wins, Mullins and Townend captured the Association of Irish Racehorse Owners Grand National Trial with novice Some Target, which gained his first win over fences at the expense of Noble Concorde, which he beat by two lengths.

The placings remained unchanged after a Stewards Enquiry, sparked by interference caused by the winner on the run-in. Townend was cautioned by the Stewards concerning his future riding.

Discussing Some Target’s improved form, Mullins explained: “The longer trip and drier ground made the difference. I didn’t think he was well-handicapped and felt he faced a tough task in his first handicap. But going a slower pace definitely suited his jumping. I think I entered him for the novice races at Cheltenham and, at this stage, the four-miler (National Hunt Chase) would look his likely target.”

Mullins’ latest French recruit to make an impression is six-year-old Raptor which made a successful Irish debut, under Townend, in the Mianach Venture Capital Maiden Hurdle.

Having tracked the leaders, Raptor, in the colours of New York-based Aidan Devaney, asserted on the approach to the final flight before beating Westmeath (not helped by jumping left throughout) by three lengths.

Mullins explained: “I saw this horse in the parade-ring at Auteuil and he struck me as a beautiful horse. And, when I was chatting to his owner and trainer, Jacqui (Mullins’ wife) rang me, told me she was watching on TV and was impressed by the grey.

“He was bought as a staying chaser and, on this evidence, deserves an entry in the Albert Bartlett (three-mile novice) at Cheltenham. he was only getting going at the end of two and a half miles today. He’s an out and out galloper and should make a smashing chaser next season.”

Raptor’s win ended Townend’s winning run. But, after Kerb Appeal finished third for the Mullins/Townend partnership in the Pertemps Qualifier, Celtic Folklore rounded off Mullins’ great day when making all in the bumper.

Ridden by the trainer’s son Patrick the Luso gelding, pulled up in his only point-to-point start, galloped his rivals into the ground staying on strongly to beat Battle Bound by six lengths.

Mullins who worked his intended Hennessy and Moriarty runners, Cooldine, Kempes, Mikael D’Haguenet and Quel Esprit after racing, said: “He’s a real galloper and seemed to enjoy himself in front. Going for a winners’ bumper would be too hard on him so he’ll go jumping straight away. It’s been a fantastic day. I came here thinking Gagewell Flyer would probably win and hoping all the others would run well. Everything has worked out well and Paul more than played his part. He had a great day too.”

The only race to evade Mullins’ grasp was the Pertemps Qualifier, in which Square Sphere continued the phenomenal run being enjoyed by County Cork handler Robert Tyner.

The eight-year-old Oscar mare proved too strong for consistent but luckless Rivage d’Or and Mullins’ Kerb Appeal, prompting the trainer’s wife Mary to explain: “The mare has been in great form and enjoyed herself out there, although we were a bit worried the ground was a bit too fast for her.

“She was nicely-rated and, when the weights went up, she got in nicely. This should put her right for a mares beginners chase at Thurles in a couple of weeks.”

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