Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mullins Seeks Hurdle Double; MOSCROP ON SATURDAY

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mullins Seeks Hurdle Double; MOSCROP ON SATURDAY

Article excerpt

ONLY one horse has so far managed to win Ireland's biggest handicap hurdle and then follow it up with victory in the British counterpart at Newbury. That was Essex, who was sent over by Michael O'Brien to capture the 2005 totesport Trophy after landing the Pierse, now run as the MCR Hurdle, at Leopardstown the previous month.

Now Willie Mullins hopes to take the same route to a double triumph with Final Approach.

Ireland's champion trainer, who also runs Sweet My Lord, had aimed Final Approach at the Leopardstown prize and he duly obliged at the expense of stable companion Call The Police.

For the record, Essex was put up 13lb by the Irish Turf Club handicapper after Leopardstown, but a difference in the scale used by our official assessors meant he effectively had to race off a mark 21lb higher at Newbury.

In the case of Final Approach he is up 14lb, which is less of a concern given the discrepancies between the handicapping systems of the two countries and, while you can pick holes in the form of the MCR Hurdle, the Mullins' raider is an improving second-season hurdler at the right end of the handicap.

He travels well in his races and showed last time that the hustle and bustle of big fields doesn't bother him.

Having had only four runs in this sphere he is open to further progress.

Between them, Alan King and Nicky Henderson are responsible for seven of the 23 runners and sorting out the likely winner is hard enough without trying to unravel the multiple choice of the two top trainers.

Solix makes his British debut for Henderson under top weight.

He showed good form in France and, despite favourable reports about his homework, he seems to have a lot on his plate.

Soldatino,having his first run since winning the Triumph Hurdle, was very keen going to post and also took a strong hold during the race at Ascot and that found him out in the end.

Stamina may also have been an issue and, back in trip, he may be a very different proposition here.

For my money, anyway, he is the pick of the Henderson trio.

Alan King waited until the 48-hour declaration stage before deciding to let Walkon join his other three contestants. …

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