Bacardys battles bravely to consolidate title lead for Mullins
Thirty-five minutes after Wicklow Brave’s victory in the Betdaq Champion Hurdle had turned the trainers' title race on its head, Willie Mullins extended his lead when 10-1 shot Bacardys got up to short-head Finian’s Oscar.
The British raider started 13-8 favourite for the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle but just failed to repel Bacardys, completing a huge Grade 1 double for the trainer’s son Patrick.
The winning rider performed a Frankie Dettori-style dismount from Bacardys, who was scoring his second Grade 1 win of the season following his victory under the same rider in the Deloitte Hurdle at Leopardstown in February.
Mullins, champion amateur for the past nine seasons but likely to surrender the title to Jamie Codd when the campaign ends on Saturday despite completing a treble on the day aboard Montalbano in the novice hurdle, said: “It didn’t quite go to plan out there but Bacardys battled really well for me to get up. It’s a pity the amateur title isn’t decided on prize-money!
"I wasn't sure coming to the last but I knew I was making a bit of ground. I had no stride at the last but I had to just sit, which wasn't ideal.
"I actually thought I was too far back and kind of lost my position out the back and he wasn't jumping slick enough, so I just took a chance on letting him be in his comfort zone and come with one run. It's amazing the difference a day makes."
The winning trainer said of the Shanakiel Racing Syndicate-owned six-year-old: “Bacardys just wasn’t travelling but Patrick got him balanced and got him running again.
"We know Patrick’s style, and the way he was angling at the last I thought he still had a chance, although Finian’s Oscar was still a few lengths clear. Our fellow met the last right and went to line really well.
“Bacardys was badly hampered by a faller in the Neptune at Cheltenham. He was bought as a chasing prospect and that’s what he’ll be doing next season.
The trainer added: “Patrick knows how lucky he is to be in the position he’s in and he has shown huge commitment in appreciation of the position he’s in.
"But he wouldn't be allowed to ride them if he wasn't good enough – I wouldn't let him ride them if he wasn't. He is good enough. He's able to think out a race and change plans mid-race. He's been around long enough and is very good.”
Mullins said of Let’s Dance, who finished fourth, one place behind Death Duty: “Ruby [Walsh] said she didn’t jump with her usual fluency and maybe it was one race too much for her at the end of a busy season.”
Finian’s Oscar was meeting with the first defeat of his career and jockey Robbie Power reported: “We were probably in front a bit too soon. He was a bit slow at the last and lost a bit of momentum, which probably made the difference at the finish.”