Impressive Killultagh Vic books Festival trip

Willie Mullins further strengthened his formidable hand for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham next month as Killultagh Vic produced a scintillating display at Naas yesterday.

Mullins has saddled eight previous winners of the Grade One contest and already had Graham Wylie-owned pair Black Hercules and Shaneshill disputing favouritism with most bookmakers for this year’s renewal.

Killultagh Vic (2-1) appeared to have his work cut out to follow up a recent course win as he faced Tony Martin’s 4-6 favourite Golantilla, making his first appearance since finishing third in last year’s Champion Bumper.

However, Killultagh Vic set a strong gallop under the trainer’s son, Patrick, and while Golantilla loomed up ominously in the straight, the Mullins runner showed thrilling acceleration to put the race to bed, coming home 16 lengths clear.

Pizarro (2002) and Hairy Molly (2006) both won the same Naas bumper before going on to Cheltenham Festival glory.

BetVictor were suitably impressed, installing Killultagh Vic into their Champion Bumper market at 7-1, with Black Hercules their 6-1 favourite and Shaneshill at 8s.

RaceBets offer a more generous 14-1.

Mullins said: “I got a text from Ruby (Walsh) coming down off the stands saying he’s another one for the boat. I think he’s right.

“He’s improving with every run and that was a terrific performance.

“After making the pace, which was pretty decent, he really quickened off it.

“He’s better than I thought he was.

“The horse that won on Saturday at Fairyhouse (Westhorpe) will have to go to Cheltenham as well, so it looks like we have four at the moment.”

Patrick Mullins, who again confirmed his intention to ride Black Hercules at Cheltenham, said of Killultagh Vic: “He picked up as well as anything I’ve ridden all year.”

Golantilla’s jockey, Robbie McNamara, was not too despondent.

He said: “He travelled really well for a mile and six (furlongs), but he just needed the run on that testing ground.

“He’ll improve a hell of a lot from that.”

Killultagh Vic starred in a double for the champion trainer, with Mozoltov surviving a first-fence howler before predictably proving a different class to his two opponents in the Woodlands Park 100 Club Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase.

The 2-13 favourite almost parted company with Bryan Cooper after he hit the first obstacle and he was wrong again at the last, but he still eased to a 35-length victory over fellow Gigginstown House Stud-owned runner Folsom Blue.

Mullins said: “I think he’s in the JLT (Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham). We’ll see how he comes out of this before we make any plans.

“He hasn’t been making those mistakes before, but I would put that down to him not having company in the race and being out on his own throughout.”

The Mullins-trained Twinlight (4-11) was strongly fancied to bounce back from a poor showing behind Captain Chris at Kempton in January, but it was a similarly flat display from the seven-year-old as he trailed home a well-beaten last of three.

Henry de Bromhead’s Days Hotel (4-1), last seen finishing fourth behind Sire De Grugy in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot, fenced well for Andrew Lynch and stayed on dourly in the testing conditions to score by five and a half lengths from Toner D’Oudairies.

De Bromhead said: “He’s really come to himself in the last few weeks.

“We’ll look at the Webster Cup at Navan and the Normans Grove in Fairyhouse.”

Katie T (5-1) got the better of odds-on favourite Shield in the Paddy Power Cash Card Maiden Hurdle in the hands of Adrian Heskin.

It was a first jumps winner in 10 years for multiple Group One-winning Flat trainer Kevin Prendergast.

Heskin said: “She quickened up well and has plenty of speed from her Flat days.”

Shield’s owner JP McManus and Tony McCoy enjoyed better luck in the Best Odds In Your Paddy Power Shop Handicap Hurdle as 7-4 favourite Getoutwhenyoucan secured his third successive win.

Winning trainer Charlie Swan said: “It helps having Tony, but I don’t know who gave him a harder ride from the last, me or him!

“It’s great that he’s won three in a row. We’ll probably look at running in a better class handicap now.”

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