Mullins’ Hills On The Rise
Deloitte Novice Hurdle
Saturday’s Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle over 2m2f at Leopardstown (1.55pm) shows what a strong hand Willie Mullins has with his novice hurdlers this season – at the five-day stage he was responsible for 13 of the 21 entries.
Mullins’ Hills On The Rise
Of the Mullins battalion, both Bellshill (15/8) and Yorkhill (2/1) head to Leopardstown with strong chances – the former making it 3-3 over hurdles courtesy of a comprehensive 5l in Grade 1 company at Naas a month ago (2m4f, heavy). It was a performance that smacked of class, and one that saw him cut into 3/1 for next month’s Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham – a price that could be even shorter if successful on Saturday.
The step back to 2m2f shouldn’t be an issue for Bellshill, who shows plenty of speed in his races, while the trip should also be fine for his stablemate, Yorkhill. A maiden winner over 2m4f, prior to landing a Grade 1 at Sandown last month (2m, heavy), Yorkhill will enjoy coming to Leopardstown having jumped to his left in both of those victories at right-handed tracks.
The fact Willie Mullins also won this race three times bodes well for both Bellshill and Yorkhill’s chances,
…though it’s possible Gordon Elliott could ruin the party with Tombstone (2/1).
Tombstone To Shoot Down Big Guns?
A maiden winner over this trip on his hurdles debut in November, Tombstone was only touched off 3/4l by another of the Mullins team entered on Saturday in Long Dog (9/1), up into Grade 1 level at Leopardstown over Christmas (2m, heavy). Petit Mouchoir (6/1) was almost 1l behind in third.
Tombstone wasn’t suited by the step back to 2m that day, however, and the fact he was blocked before finishing to good effect suggests Saturday’s return to 2m2f will suit. That outing in Grade 1 company last time out has also proven a good omen in this race down the years…
Deloitte Novice Hurdle Trends
Of the last 10 winners…
10 had a maximum of one run at Leopardstown
9 returned 8/1 or shorter
9 ran in a Grade 1 or Grade 2 last time
8 were Irish-bred
N Meade & W Mullins won it three times apiece
Island The Value?
With the majority of Deloitte winners having returned at 8/1 or shorter, there is reason to believe Coney Island (8/1) could give the market leaders something to think about. Edward Harty’s runner was a 9l maiden winner here on Boxing Day and may need to show serious improvement in such hot company, but Harty would not be pitching him in if he wasn’t good enough.
Supasundae was also a wide margin winner of his maiden here over Christmas when beating Silver Concorde 13l, and Henry De Bromhead’s 6yo could rate the each-way value at 12/1.
With so much talent on show, Saturday’s renewal wouldn’t be out of place at the Cheltenham Festival. Willie Mullins’ decision on who to run and jockey placements could prove a tip in itself, but Yorkhill can only improve for going left-handed here and gets the vote.
*Prices correct at time of publication