Yorkhill faces another schooling session after jumping blip
Willie Mullins plans to give Yorkhill another schooling session after the JLT Chase favourite raised eyebrows with a mixed round of jumping after racing at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Yorkhill, winner of both his chase starts, had jumped markedly left when scoring at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown – and that was again noticeable over the first two fences in this latest workout.
Last year’s Neptune Novices' Hurdle winner, a best-priced 7-4 for the JLT, tackled eight fences with stablemates Blazer (Paul Townend) and Arbre De Vie (Patrick Mullins), and Mullins said: “He did go to the left at the first couple of fences and Ruby [Walsh] said he was very big at the first fence down the back and got a fright.
“He was big again at the next but from there on Ruby said he was electric when the other two horses quickened up. He came to join them travelling very easily. I was quite happy with him but I’d imagine we’ll school him again before Cheltenham, where he’ll run in the JLT.”
Mullins added: “I was happy with Blazer and with Arbre De Vie. Although Blazer is in a couple of handicaps at the festival, he’s better treated in Ireland so I’m not sure whether he’ll travel. Arbre De Vie could go for the National Hunt Chase.”
Djakadam, who will bid to give Ireland’s champion trainer a first Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup win on Friday week, delighted connections when Walsh schooled him with Royal Caviar (Townend).
Mullins said: “He was very good and I couldn’t be happier with him. He hasn’t raced since Christmas but he runs well fresh and we’re hoping he’ll do that on the big day."
Royal Caviar is being aimed at the Racing Post Arkle Trophy but Bellshill's participation in the same schooling session ended when he fell at the first fence and his place in the RSA Chase, for which he was a top-priced 12-1 on Sunday, is uncertain.
Mullins said: “He was walking a bit gingerly when he came back, so we’ll see how he is in the morning and take it from there.”
Other Cheltenham contenders in action after racing included the Enda Bolger-trained pair On The Fringe (Foxhunter Chase) and Cantlow (Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase), who worked over two miles on the flat. The Andy Lynch-trained Zabana, who is in the Gold Cup and the Ryanair Chase, also worked on the flat.
Mouse Morris yesterday confirmed Alpha Des Obeaux a runner in the RSA Chase, for which the seven-year-old, who finished second to Thistlecrack in the Stayers Hurdle at the festival last year, is 7-1 joint-second favourite.
Alpha Des Obeaux, who is two from five over fences, has not run since being pulled up after breaking blood vessels at Leopardstown in December.
Morris said: "The RSA remains the plan for Alpha Des Obeaux and I'll probably have only two other runners at the meeting – Buckers Bridge in the Foxhunter and possibly First Lieutenant in the cross-country."
Also expecting to send a small team to the festival is Tony Martin, who said: "We haven't finalised plans but Long Call is an intended runner in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle and Buddy Bolero will go for the cross-country chase.
"Golden Spear and Tudor City are in the County Hurdle but are a long way down the weights. We might put them in the Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday and make decisions later in the week."