Aintree auditions, long-range plans and a TV bombshell in our round-up
Performance of the week
Michael O'Leary is convinced Samcro is not the second coming, but there may be a few who would dispute that after the six-year-old's stroll in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday. Samcro will head to Cheltenham as the banker for many.
Disappointment of the week
Some saw Faugheen's second in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday as a step in the right direction after his tame display in the Ryanair Hurdle, but if 'The Machine' were in full working order he should be a class apart from Supasundae.
It will surely take a magical training performance from Willie Mullins if Faugheen has any chance of giving Buveur D'Air a race in the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Big-race trial of the week
Nothing unusual about a Randox Health Grand National contender having a run over hurdles before Aintree, but it's not every day a horse goes off 5-6 for a 16-runner handicap.
Then again, Total Recall, the Ladbrokes Trophy (old Hennessy) hero, was rated a whopping 31lb below his chase mark – so no wonder he was a comfortable winner!
His National odds were trimmed and it is easy to see him being a player in jump racing's most famous race in the spring.
Long-range target of the week
Sandown chairman Peter Jensen has promised to erect a plaque in the track's weighing room if Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, who won the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase on Saturday for the fourth year running with Terrefort, are successful again in 12 months' time, and the pair's racing manager Anthony Bromley took little time in suggesting Fixe Le Kap and Messire Des Obeaux as two possibles.
Bombshell of the week
At The Races has become synonymous with Irish racing, but the sensational news on Friday that Racing UK will screen action from Ireland from 2019 rocked the industry.
Leading owner JP McManus said he was saddened by the revelation, while top trainer Willie Mullins described himself as disappointed. Jockey-turned-trainer Robbie McNamara said the deal meant racing would no longer be a household sport, adding it was "baffling".
Quote of the week
"I love Tony Mullins dearly. But the brother of Willie Mullins complaining about somebody dominating jump racing – come on!"
Michael O'Leary muscles in on another award in a fascinating interview with Richard Forristal
Tweet of the week
Hats off to all those responsible for organising the great new Dublin festival. Two days of the best National Hunt racing ever seen in Ireland— Tony Mullins (@tonymullins84) February 3, 2018
Tony Mullins with something O'Leary (hopefully) agrees with!