'Utterly unique' - Willie Mullins hails Wicklow Brave as most versatile horse
Willie Mullins has hailed Wicklow Brave as the most versatile horse he or anyone else has ever trained and says he is in rude health after his stylish six-length victory in a Grade 3 novice chase at Galway last Thursday.
The ten-year-old is now being aimed at the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in December, with a stop at Tipperary in October along the way, which his trainer believes will suit him nicely.
"Wicklow Brave is in great form since Galway and I couldn't be any happier with him," said Mullins. "He's a funny character. He tells me what to do rather than the other way around. He has his own regime and he only does what he wants."
The trainer added: "He is definitely the most versatile horse I have trained and I wouldn't imagine there has ever been one so versatile anywhere. To win three bumpers, six races on the Flat, five hurdles and two chases is remarkable really. He even has a Leger in there. It's amazing. He's utterly unique."
The champion trainer added: "We are keen to try and win a Grade 1 over fences with him so he will be aimed at the Drinmore in December at Fairyhouse. Before that, I would imagine you will see him next in the Grade 3 Like A Butterfly Novice Chase at Tipperary on Super Sunday [October 6]. That would seem the logical place to go."
What makes Wicklow Brave so versatile?
Grade 3 County Handicap Hurdle, Cheltenham, 2015
Group 1 Irish St Leger, Curragh, 2016
Grade 1 Champion Hurdle, Punchestown, 2017
Grade 3 Brewery Novice Chase, 2019
Wicklow Brave has already broken through the €1 million barrier in prize-money. He has 16 wins from 57 starts on his CV and has finished second on eight other occasions. He has run in two Melbourne Cups, won an Irish St Leger and also landed the 2015 County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
If he goes on to win the Drinmore at Fairyhouse, he will become the only horse to win a Group 1 on the Flat, a Grade 1 over hurdles and a Grade 1 over fences. You wouldn't put it past him, would you? With Wicklow Brave it seems anything is possible.
Why I love Wicklow Brave
The only horse to have come close to matching my fondness for Highland Reel, a seven-time winner at the top level is Wicklow Brave.
Wind the clock back to March 2014 and a 20-year-old novice from Kent was learning the ropes about racing, chancing his arm on the Willie Mullins-trained youngster in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Fingers were burned that day, but it was in the following years when Wicklow Brave's career really caught the imagination. Switching from hurdles to Flat in 2016, he battled memorably to deny Order Of St George in the Irish St Leger and cause a major upset.
With a Classic victory under his belt he then showed equal tenacity to repel the likes of My Tent Or Yours in the Grade 1 Punchestown Champion Hurdle while I was in attendance, a mere seven months later. Remarkable. The inspirational display gave me a fresh impetus striding into legendary Dublin nightclub Copper Face Jacks later that evening.
The versatile ten-year-old still relishes a battle and a Galway Grade 3 chase victory last week cements his status among my all-time favourites.
If there were a silk dressing gown in the colours of owners Wicklow Bloodstock I would not hesitate to put my money where my mouth is, and pay homage to the old warrior while making my morning porridge.
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