Sharjah shows why Patrick Mullins made such a bold statement six months ago
Prior to the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown in January, Patrick Mullins said: "No horse should ever be odds-on to beat Sharjah in any race. I don't care how good people think he is."
The horse Mullins was referring to was last season's Neptune Hurdle hero Samcro, who went on to win the aforementioned Grade 1 by five and a half lengths without Jack Kennedy having to move many muscles. Sharjah was more than 14 lengths behind him in seventh.
The ten-time champion amateur is not usually prone to hyperbole so for him to make such a bold statement about Sharjah was very strange indeed.
It took more than six months for us to see where he was coming from, but winning Ireland's richest hurdle race off top-weight made the statement look less bonkers than it did at the time, that's for sure.
"I've always loved him and that helps make up for what happened over Christmas," said a mud-splattered Mullins, referring to his unfortunate last-hurdle fall when having the Grade 1
Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at his mercy at Leoaprdstown's Christmas festival.
"Everything was so straightforward, unlike when I won yesterday [on Diamond Hill]. He was absolutely magic. All I could think of was to not get there too soon and not deck him at the last, like I did at Leopardstown.
"I think it has just taken him time to get over that fall and to get his confidence back. He's always had loads of ability."
Revealing how Sharjah came to be ridden by one of his biggest fans, the jockey's trainer, and father, Willie said: "I asked him yesterday morning did he want to ride in the Galway Hurdle and then told him if he did the only one he could ride was Sharjah, so that was that."
Patrick's mother Jackie also heaped praise on her son, saying: "He is very focussed. He loves it but it is hard work."
The hard work is paying off, Patrick. And so is your faith in Sharjah.
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