Willie Mullins reports Killultagh Vic none the worse the morning after his remarkable victory at Leopardstown.
A winner over hurdles at both Cheltenham and Punchestown last spring, the seven-year-old made a flying start to his career over fences at Fairyhouse last month and was a warm order stepped up to Grade Two level on Sunday.
Everything appeared to be going according to plan until he sprawled on landing after jumping the final fence, but having seemingly lost all chance, he somehow regained his momentum to get back up for a most unlikely victory under an inspired Ruby Walsh.
Mullins tweeted: “I’m happy to report that #KillultaghVic seems absolutely fine after his little speed wobble @LeopardstownRC.”
Killultagh Vic has a number of potential options at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, with Mullins on Sunday identifying the JLT Novices’ Chase as his most likely target.
Weighing-room colleague Richard Johnson felt Killultagh Vic’s improbable triumph neatly symbolised the glorious unpredictability of National Hunt racing.
He said: “It was just a great effort from both horse and rider.
“We all know how good a horseman Ruby is. He’ll be the first to admit that when a horse makes a mistake and stays straight that it’s easier to stay on, but he did brilliantly well to keep him going and get up near the line.
“The horse should also take massive credit. Not only did he manage to stay on his feet, but to quicken the way he did after such a bad mistake is very hard indeed.
“This is what we all love about jump racing, you just never know what’s going to happen.
“It’s great for racing when you see something like that, it gets the sport more publicity.”
Mullins, meanwhile, has confirmed his formidable trio of Faugheen, Nichols Canyon and Arctic Fire on course for the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.
The unbeaten record of last year’s Champion Hurdle hero Faugheen went up in smoke when he suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Nichols Canyon in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November, but he showed his true colours when successfully defending his Christmas Hurdle crown at Kempton.
Nichols Canyon also struck gold last month with a determined display in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown.
But Arctic Fire, runner-up to legendary former stable companion Hurricane Fly in last season’s Irish Champion Hurdle before chasing home Faugheen at Cheltenham, is on a recovery mission after disappointing on his first start over three miles at Leopardstown over Christmas.
“They all appear good at the moment,” said Mullins, who won the Grade One for the last five years with Hurricane Fly.
“Hopefully they all stay that way and we’ll see them all on Sunday.”
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