Mullins gives Smashing Betfair Hurdle chance

Willie Mullins plans to run Smashing in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday.

The €130,000 French recruit is unbeaten in two starts for Ireland’s champion trainer, following up an impressive Fairyhouse success with a similarly dominant display at Limerick on St Stephen’s Day.

The five-year-old is set to travel to Britain for this weekend’s valuable handicap, with Andrew Lynch, retained rider for owners Ann and Alan Potts, due to take the ride.

Mullins said: “We were happy with how he worked this morning and he is an intended runner at Newbury on Saturday. Hopefully the conditions should be fine for him.”

Somersby will head straight for the Betvictor Queen Mother Champion Chase after trainer Mick Channon decided to skip Saturday’s Betfair Cash Out Chase at Newbury.

The 10-year-old unshipped Dominic Elsworth early on in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot won by Sire De Grugy, but he also picked up a knock when running loose.

Back in full training now, Channon felt there was no point asking him to race on heavy ground this weekend.

“He will go straight to Cheltenham now I would have thought and go for the big race, the Queen Mother. We’ve got to wait for some ground,” said Channon.

Meanwhile, Kim Bailey feels it could be worth trying to take advantage of the current heavy conditions with Harry Topper in the Denman Chase at Newbury this weekend.

While he also has options at Kelso and Haydock next week, Bailey could be tempted by the £50,000 contest this weekend.

“I have made a surprise entry for Harry Topper at Newbury on Saturday in the Denman Chase,” he wrote on his blog. “Harry Topper has his ground and seems to have come out of his recent Cheltenham race in fine form, so I thought it was worthwhile looking at the race as he still has his preferred soft ground.

“We do have other opportunities next week in the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase at Kelso next Thursday and the Grand National Trial at Haydock next Saturday.”

Venetia Williams has entered Katenko but his participation is far from certain.

Having been struck down with colic last season after emerging as a lively outsider for the Gold Cup, the soft-ground lover was a close fourth in the Peter Marsh Chase last time out.

Paul Nicholls has three of the nine possible runners in Saturday’s Star Sports Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick.

Nicholls can choose from Dodging Bullets, also entered at Newbury, Mr Mole and the five-year-old Valco De Touzaine.

Alan King has has a couple of options with Balder Succes and Raya Star in the mix for the Grade Two.

No trainer is in better form than Venetia Williams and she has entered the smart Brick Red, while Jonjo O’Neill may run Festive Affair.


Lifestyle

Keep chomping on those carrots so your eyes will be in perfect working order for that prolonged annual gaze through the keyhole as Home of the Year returns for a sixth series next week.Home of the Year offers a good excuse for a bit of good-natured interiors voyeurism

They differ from the more prevalent oranges we eat because their flesh, and often the skin, is crimson or deep red in colour.Michelle Darmody: The best time of year to buy blood oranges

The annual Members Exhibition now underway at the Lavit Gallery in Cork features 92 works from 72 artists.The exhibition runs until March 7.Under the hammer: Your guide to upcoming auctions

There’s an oriental theme at the James Adam ‘At Home’ auction in Dublin, says Des O’SullivanAuctions: Sale full of eastern promise

More From The Irish Examiner