Mullins Set To Continue Flogas Domination
Saturday’s superb card at Leopardstown features four Grade 1 events, suggesting there should be Cheltenham Festival clues aplenty, including in the Flogas Novice Chase (2.30pm).
Win No.6 For Mullins?
This 2m5f event has attracted a bundle of talent, with Willie Mullins responsible for the majority of runners, including the 7yo, Roi Des Frances. Currently 6/1 for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham next month, where he was third over hurdles last March, he has improved upon that form over fences where he is 2-3 (both wins over 3m).
Roi Des Frances’ latest Grade 2 win at Naas (3m, soft/heavy) when coming over 1l clear of stablemate, Pont Alexandre, showcased his stamina to good effect, but that raises a slight concern for Saturday’s switch back in trip. What will be in his favour though is his age, as 7yo’s have an excellent record in the race.
Flogas Novice Chase Trends
Of the last 10 winners…
9 were Irish-bred
9 had a maximum of two runs at Leopardstown
7 were 7yo’s
W Mullins won it five times
Better Chance on Better Ground For Outlander
While 2m5f may prove sharp for Roi Des Frances, his stablemate Outlander won’t have any problems having won over 2m4f the last twice, including a Grade 2 at Limerick over Christmas (heavy). Currently 14/1 for the National Hunt Chase next month, Outlander didn’t enjoy the heavy ground that day, but should be better on the forecast drier ground on Saturday.
Another of the Mullins team could line-up in Black Hercules, a 7yo who recorded by far a career best when taking a Listed race at Warwick three weeks ago (3m, heavy).
Having won over 2m4f previously, conditions should be fine at the weekend, and it will be interesting to see who Mullins decides to let loose from his big guns.
Indeed, Mullins also has the likes of McKinley, a Grade 1 hurdles winner over 2m4f, who was off the mark over fences last time (2m), while stablemate, Measureofmydreams, was off the mark at the first attempt over fences last month (2m4f, heavy), and has more to come.
Zabana To Upset Odds?
As for possible rivals out to stop Willie Mullins winning this for a sixth time since 2008, then Andrew Lynch has the 7yo Zabana entered. Runner-up in a Grade 3 hurdle at Cheltenham in March, he won on his chase bow here over Christmas (2m3f, heavy) and is worth a look in the market beforehand.
Noel Meade has Monksland, who is worth each-way consideration having been a 2l runner-up in a Grade 1 novice chase at Fairyhouse in November (2m4f, soft/heavy).
Willie Mullins looks to hold all the cards, though it’s worth pointing out that three of his last four winners of this race never started as favourite. At this stage, Black Hercules gets the nod, having looked a classy individual when scoring in Britain last time, and victory here could see his odds for Cheltenham cut further.
*Prices correct at time of publication.