Mullins lucky break as Alelchi benefits from Outlander departure
Willie Mullins' Alelchi Inois benefited from a huge slice of luck to come up trumps in the prestigious Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase on Thursday.
Gordon Elliott’s Outlander looked a likely winner approaching the last fence when holding a three length advantage over a ridden-along Alelchi Inois, but the leader failed to take off properly and ploughed through the birch in the hands of Bryan Cooper, who was unscathed after the fall.
Outlander, who was formerly trained by Mullins and was one of 60 horses removed by owner Michael O'Leary in September after a disagreement over training fees, left the way open for his ex-Closutton inmate, Alelchi Inois to plug on up the short run-in under Ruby Walsh to score by five lengths from Clarcam in second.
"That was probably a bit fortunate but we will take it," Mullins said.
"He was probably jumping a bit slow for that type of contest but he jumped safe and it paid off in the end. We might go up in trip with him now. The rain hadn't had a chance to soak into the ground and being the first chase on the track today, everything just played into his hands."
Alelchi Inois was last seen making the frame in the lucrative Grade 1 Gran Premio Merano in Italy back in September and a return to Italy is on the cards for the Luke McMahon-owned gelding.
Before then, the son of Night Tango could be kept busy in cross-country races – a sphere in which his owners enjoyed great success with Uncle Junior.
Mullins said: "That was nearly our last race for him as he likes nice ground and we are half thinking of going the cross-country chase route with him now – Patrick [Mullins] will be happy to hear that.
"On those cross-country tracks, you usually get better ground. Italy is not off our agenda either with him as there is good prize-money to be won and it's a race that we have yet to win.
"A tilt at the Aintree Grand National could also be a plan for him next year because after his run in Italy, we were happy enough that he would stay and Ruby [Walsh] said that he would get further."
Boylesports have introduced Alelchi Inois into their Aintree Grand National betting at 33-1.
Unlucky last-fence faller Outlander was shortened into 16-1 from 25-1 with Paddy Power for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham next March.