WKD Hurdle hottest race so far, says Mullins

Champion trainer Willie Mullins feels today’s WKD Hurdle at Down Royal is the hottest run so far this season.

Mullins runs Arctic Fire and Wicklow Brave and said: “They are two nice hurdlers and I expect we’ll know more about them after this,” he said.

“This is a very hot race, probably the hottest run under either code anywhere this season.

“You have five horses rated over 140 and even the mare (Little King Robin) with her allowances isn’t far off them.

“It will be tough as Tiger Roll has had a run, but it will give us an indication of where to go.”

Gordon Elliott’s Tiger Roll reversed Leopardstown form with Guitar Pete at the Cheltenham Festival and returned to Prestbury Park earlier this month when giving weight and a beating to Calipto.

Jockey Bryan Cooper knows both horses very well, having made his comeback from injury on Guitar Pete and having recently ridden Tiger Roll to victory.

Cooper will be on the latter in the Grade Two over two miles, won last year by subsequent Champion Hurdle hero Jezki.

“Tiger Roll did it well at Cheltenham as he was giving a lot of weight away,” said Cooper.

“The ground was slower than he’d want, to, and we always thought he’d improve on whatever he did, so you’d have to be pleased with what he did.

“Guitar Pete always runs a good race. We thought he was probably fitter than he was for a comeback but he never runs a bad race.

“He probably has a bit to find with Tiger Roll, but I’d also have a lot of respect for Willie Mullins’ two.

“With a run under our belts, though, I’d hope we’d take all the beating.”

Colin Bowe has decided to keep improving mare Little King Robin closer to home for the race.

The six-year-old held an engagement tomorrow at Wetherby, where she could have raced against her own sex, but Bowe has decided to find out just how good his stable star is by pitching her in against some of last season’s leading juveniles.

“The ground at Down Royal is still yielding so we thought we’d let her take her chance,” said the Co Wexford handler, whose inmate has won her last four starts over hurdles.

“She’s improving away and we should find out where we are at.

“If she was taking them on in a handicap she wouldn’t be that much better off at the weights.

“It’s not impossible for a mare to win it so we’ll give it a go and see where we stand with the rest of the season in mind.”

Meanwhile, Road To Riches is set to join fellow Gigginstown House Stud-owned runner First Lieutenant in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal tomorrow.

The Galway Plate hero, last seen pushing Sizing Europe all the way at Gowran Park, also has an entry in the Powers Irish Whiskey Chase on the same card, but trainer Noel Meade expects him to tests his powers at the highest level.

He said: “As far as I know, the Nicholson is the plan at the moment.”

First Lieutenant’s trainer Mouse Morris revealed his charge would sidestep the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and instead head north.


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