National winner Mullins booked for Reve De Sivola and Brain Power
David Mullins is a man in demand. Gigginstown like him, as does his uncle Willie, and now Nicky Henderson and Nick Williams have joined the fan club as the 20-year-old has been booked to ride Reve De Sivola and Brain Power at Ascot on Saturday.
Reve De Sivola is a three-time winner of the JLT Long Walk Hurdle, twice under Richard Johnson and most recently in the hands of Daryl Jacob in 2014, but Mullins will be on board for the first time on Saturday and the Grand National-winning rider is hugely excited about the prospect.
"It's brilliant news," Mullins told the Racing Post on Thursday. "Fair play to my agent, Ciaran [O'Toole], who has done a super job in getting me those rides. Reve De Sivola has farmed the race in recent years and obviously loves Ascot. He's been some servant over the years and I'm privileged to be getting the opportunity to ride him.
"To be riding a horse like Reve De Sivola in a Grade 1 on a big Saturday in England is just magic. I cannot wait."
Mullins has not sat on Reve De Sivola before but he has been aboard Brain Power, having finished third when partnering him in the Grade 1 Herald Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown festival last April.
"I like Brain Power. He gave me a lovely feel at Punchestown when I was third in the Grade 1 and I liked the way he got the job done at Sandown last time. He's getting the hang of things and maturing nicely. Hopefully, he will be suited by the race and I'm really looking forward to getting back on him," Mullins said.
After his British rides, Mullins will be back on home soil on Sunday, when he heads to Navan to ride Monalee for Henry de Bromhead in the Grade 2 Navan Novice Hurdle.
"We like him a lot," Mullins said. "That was a nice maiden hurdle he won at Punchestown and we think he's a lovely horse so it will be interesting to see how he gets on."
Geraghty switches to Modus
As well as Brain Power, Henderson will saddle Hargam and Consul De Thaix in the Grade 3 Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle, but it is another JP McManus-owned contender that has caught the eye of Barry Geraghty.
Before final declarations, Geraghty's name had appeared next to Consul De Thaix but the jockey will ride the Paul Nicholls-trained Modus instead.
"I had the choice between the pair and I hope I have chosen right," he said on Thursday. "I've plumped for Modus because he has the vital experience in hot handicap hurdles like this one."
When asked whether he was surprised by Geraghty's decision, Henderson replied: "Yes, a little bit. He must know something about Modus. Consul De Thaix ran a good race last time and is in good form, and Jerry [McGrath] knows him so he can stay on him."
The Tony Martin-trained Golden Spear was last night backed into 7-1 co-favouritism to join Meet The Legend and Jolly's Cracked It, who dead-heated with the returning Sternrubin 12 months ago, at the head of the market for the race formerly run as the Ladbroke.
In the JLT Long Walk Hurdle on the same card, World Hurdle fancy Unowhatimeanharry will face ten rivals, provisionally the biggest field for the race since 2008.
Noel Fehily has been booked to ride Lil Rockerfeller for the first time, while France will be represented by the Francois Nicolle-trained Alex De Larredya.
The ground at Ascot remained good to soft on Thursday and although drizzle is possible overnight, the forecast is for generally dry, mild weather for the two-day meeting, which starts on Friday.