Navan: Mullins dominates Graded races
Willie Mullins completed a clean sweep of the three Graded races on the card at Navan, with Twinlight’s Fortria Chase win the highlight of a wonderful day for the Closutton trainer. The 7yo Twinlight had struggled towards the end of last season but as he had done last season at Naas, Mullins charge was brilliant in winning on his seasonal reappearance in today’s Grade 2 contest.
Despite jumping to his right at times, Twinlight still travelled well turning for home under Ruby Walsh. He made a blunder at the second last but was foot perfect at the final fence and had enough in the locker to pull clear of 3/1 joint favourite Days Hotel and score by 7 1/2 lengths.
Of the winner Mullins said: “That was a nice surprise as I thought the ground might be a bit too dry.
“Ruby gave him a super ride and kept filling him up with air. He jumped great. The Hilly Way at Cork looks the next place. We’ll run in whatever we can over two miles as that’s his optimum trip.”
Earlier on the card, the sometimes frustrating Zaidpour, put in a dogged front running performance to capture the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle again under the brilliant Walsh. The three time Grade 1 winner, last seen flopping in France, set a decent pace from the off and was always in command, eventually running out a 2 1/2 length winner from the staying on Noble Endeavor.
“He is a horse who has won over three miles, whereas the others were more two, two-and-a-half-milers so they were always going to be ridden for speed,” Walsh said on At The Races.
“It’s often the best thing to do to keep it simple in those circumstances and I just wanted to try and keep the situation covered from the front.
“It wasn’t quite soft enough for him down the back but he enjoyed himself and quickened up well when he had to. He’s a horse that usually pays his way.”
The 4yo McKinley had earlier given Mullins his first victory of the afternoon in the Grade 3 Novice Hurdle. A winner of his last two starts over timber last season, the Gigginstown charge returned with a poor effort at Listowel last time but was much improved here, taking control of the race before the last under Bryan Cooper and staying on to score by 2 3/4 lengths.
By Kevin Walsh 9/11/14
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