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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Mullins and Elliott make up the numbers in red-hot handicap

Takeoff: Air Horse One (grey) picks up just behind Divine Spear at the last but stays on strongly to win
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5.35 Punchestown
Ballymore Handicap Hurdle | 2m4f | RTE2/ATR

With €100,000 worth of prize-money up for grabs, this handicap could well have a big say in the trainers' title race and both Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott have gone gung-ho in an attempt to scoop the lucrative pot.

The powerful pair have twelve of the 25 runners between them, Mullins having the upper hand in numbers with eight. Victory for either trainer could decide the destination of the championship.

British-based horses have been mopping up in handicaps this week, however, and Harry Fry is hoping Air Horse One can improve on his County Hurdle effort at the Cheltenham Festival.

JP McManus has a very strong hand and his Scoir Mear, so unlucky when flying home to take fifth in the Coral Cup, is sure to be popular with punters. The Rebecca Curtis-trained Geordie Des Champs also makes the trip over from Britain and will run in the same silks.

What they say 

Gordon Elliott, trainer of Milsean, Automated, Carrig Cathal and Sire Du Berlais
They're all in good nick. Automated travels well in his races and will be hoping to pounce late. Carrig Cathal is a tough, consistent sort, while hopefully we have not seen the best of Sire Du Berlais yet.

Harry Fry, trainer of Air Horse One
He ran well in the County Hurdle and although he's stepping back up to two and a half miles he won over two miles three in soft ground at Ascot. He has been running well all season and if he's in the same sort of form he should run a big race.

Jessica Harrington, trainer of Oscar Sam and Modem
It was unfortunate to see Oscar Sam brought down so early the other day, but he's none the worse for it and seems in good form. It will be interesting to see how Modem gets on over this longer trip.

Ruby Walsh, rider of Bonbon Au Miel
Bonbon Au Miel is a relatively unexposed horse and had a great run on his comeback behind Hidden Cyclone at Leopardstown. He didn’t run to the same standard when winning at Cork, but a lot of horses do that. I think he’s in great form, has a reasonable mark and should run a good race.

Tom Mullins, trainer of Scoir Mear
Things did not go his way at Cheltenham and he could be considered a bit unlucky. This has been the plan since then and hopefully everything's in place for a big run. He's in good form but the one thing I'd say is the two and a half miles is probably as short as he wants.

Liz Doyle, trainer of Derulo
The ground will suit and I think upping him slightly in trip from his win at Downpatrick will suit too. He's fresh and well and JJ's [Slevin] claim is a bonus. It's a very competitive race but I'm hoping we're going there with a decent chance.

Click here for Willie Mullins' views

Things did not go his way at Cheltenham and he could be considered a bit unlucky. This has been the plan since then
E.W. Terms
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