Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

A third Ryanair Chase is the ultimate goal for Allaho, who has been pencilled in to return in the Clonmel Oil Chase having been given a clean bill of health by Willie Mullins.

The dual Cheltenham Festival winner has not been seen since claiming Punchestown Gold Cup glory in the spring of 2022 with a rare spleen injury keeping him sidelined for the whole 2022-23 campaign.

However, the master of Closutton is happy with where he has the nine-year-old ahead of his slated November 9 return, with sights firmly fixed on a third victory at Prestbury Park in the spring.

Image:
Allaho ridden by Paul Townend on their way to winning the Ryanair Chase

“Allaho had a very unusual injury last year, I think it was around this time,” said Mullins. “He came back from the gallops and he displayed signs of colic and yet we couldn’t find any colic in him. All his vitals were all right but it transpired he had a bleed on his spleen which is very unusual, I’ve never heard of it before in a horse.

“He’s a huge horse, about the biggest in the yard, and one of the things with big horses is they can carry weight easier over longer trips but sometimes it makes it tricky carrying their own weight over their career.

“But he’s in great shape this year and I’m very happy with him and he’ll probably start off in the Clonmel Oil, I think he’s ready for that and hopefully he’ll be back for the Ryanair again if we can.

“People will maybe say the Gold Cup but I think the trip is too long for him. He’s good around Cheltenham over that Ryanair trip.”

Back-to-back Gold Cup charge for Galopin Des Champs

It is also set to be business as usual for Galopin Des Champs, whose quest for back-to-back victories in the Cheltenham Gold Cup will begin in Punchestown’s John Durkan Memorial Chase on November 26.

The seven-year-old was an emphatic 13-length winner of the race last season and Mullins has no issue with the race’s new place on the calendar as part of the Kildare track’s two-day Winter Festival.

Image:
Paul Townend celebrates winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Galopin Des Champs for trainer Willie Mullins

“I’m happy enough (with him) and I know the John Durkan is a week nearer the start of the season this year which is probably better and I assume we go there,” added Mullins.

“I imagine I will try to do what I did last year with him and keep the same routine. He will set off there and hopefully he will be all right and then Christmas at Leopardstown, then the Dublin Racing Festival and then on to Cheltenham and Punchestown.”

El Fabiolo aiming to continue Champion Chase dominance

With dual Champion Chase winner Energumene out of action, it could be left to El Fabiolo to try to continue Closutton’s dominance in the two-mile chase division.

First port of call for last year’s impressive Arkle winner is filling Energumene’s shoes in Cork’s Hilly Way Chase before connections plot a course to the Champion Chase in March.

Mullins said: “He’s our replacement at this stage of time for Energumene. I think he will start off in the Hilly Way, I think that is the place to go. Then plan a route to Cheltenham.”

Image:
El Fabiolo jumps to victory in the Sporting Life Arkle Novices’ Chase

Also set to start off over two miles is the gallant front-runner Dysart Dynamo, who could contest Naas’ Barberstown Castle Poplar Square Chase on November 12.

“Dysart Dynamo’s ability seems to be the fact that he can jump and gallop from the start and he probably needs nice ground to do that,” said Mullins.

“I think he is a Poplar Square chaser, start him off at Naas and we will take the two-mile route with him for the rest of the season I think.”

Image:
Dysart Dynamon ridden by Paul Townend

Blue Lord is another who could make his mark in the two-mile division this term, although he will join Allaho at Clonmel to start his campaign.

Mullins went on: “Blue Lord is another pencilled in for the Clonmel Oil Chase. He was very impressive at Leopardstown over two miles but we know he stays two and a half. I don’t want to go much further with him I think.

“So he will go down the two to two-and-a-half-mile route. Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase are the type of race we will look at and we will see where he puts himself after a couple of races. We will start off at the Clonmel Oil and then go back to that race at Christmas that he won last season.”

Sir Gerhard could return to hurdles

Sir Gerhard will return with chasing on the agenda, however, his handler is willing to make a mid-season switch to the smaller obstacles if things do not go to plan and he could feasibly become a Stayers’ Hurdle contender by the spring.

Mullins explained: “He won well the first day and I think he jumped poorly enough after that. He was just beaten in the WillowWarm Gold Cup at Fairyhouse, he jumped well I think that day and was just beaten.

Image:
Sir Gerhard and Paul Townend win the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham

“We were wondering did he not stay and his pedigree suggests he should stay much further than that. He is horse who I think if I can get his jumping right, then he should stay over fences.

“I’m not sure which trip, at one stage I thought he could be a Champion Hurdle horse when he won his maiden hurdle in Leopardstown and then we went out in trip with him because he didn’t jump well enough. We know he has the ability to jump well when he wants to.

“What we might do is if things don’t go well over fences in the early part of the season, I might switch him to be a staying hurdler. That’s the way I’m looking at him, but I would rather stay over fences if I can get his jumping right.”

Gold Cup entry for Monkfish

Also with a brief hurdling foray looming is Monkfish who seems to be over the worst of his injury worries, with his trainer even speculating a Gold Cup entry could be on the cards.

“I was very happy how he came out of the season with his two runs and he is in great shape on the gallops,” said Mullins.

“I imagine I will start him off over hurdles, just to get a run under his belt and then I would hope to go back chasing, that’s the plan anyhow.

Image:
Paul Townend celebrates on Monkfish

“So far so good and his health problems have been no problem this season. Who knows he may get a Gold Cup entry, if all goes well.”

However, one still very much on the road to recovery is Ferny Hollow, with Mullins envisaging a back-end return if the former Champion Bumper winner is to race this season.

“Ferny is making very slow progress, we were not very happy with him at all last spring and we decided to give him the summer off and reports are a lot better now given more time,” he explained.

“I’m hoping we just give him all the time that he wants, he is too good a horse to put by the wayside at this stage.

“I don’t think we’ll make a plan for him this season, if anything it will be the very end of the season, but I wouldn’t be putting him in any 10 to follow or anything like that.”

Meanwhile, all roads lead back to Aintree for last year’s Grand National third Gaillard Du Mesnil. “He looks the obvious horse to stay going for the Aintree Grand National,” said Mullins.

“I’m wondering which direction to go with him and I know I want to get a few more runs into him this year. Whether I start him off over hurdles or fences, the Aintree National will be the main target and I have no plan made for him at this stage. But he might have three or four runs before the big one.”

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The post Willie Mullins stable tour: Allaho in ‘great shape’ for third Ryanair tilt; El Fabiolo to return at Cork appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

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