WILLIE Mullins looks set to be multi-handed in his bid to extend his record as the most successful trainer in the Goffs Thyestes Chase, which takes place at Gowran Park next Thursday.
The champion trainer has eight wins in all in the iconic three-mile, one-furlong contest and has seven of the 27 entries in the race and the current favourite with last year’s runner-up Franco De Port.
Just touched off by Longhouse Poet 12 months ago, the Bruton Street-owned eight-year-old is 4lb higher in the weights, meaning he’ll have to shoulder top-weight, but he probably ran his best race since that effort when a reasonably close fifth to Conflated in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, gave an update on both: “Franco De Port was very good in the Savills Chase. He has more weight this year so it’s a very big ask but he obviously ran very well in the race last season so we’re definitely considering it. He has the option of going for the Irish Gold Cup back at Leopardstown so we’ll see nearer the time.
“We have Carefully Selected in there as well. He ran a cracker in the Paddy Power (11th). He is an unexposed horse horse but I suppose the worry for him would be the mythical ‘bounce’ factor - the second run back after a long break which could be a concern.
“He appears to have come out of Leopardstown in great form and he definitely has the scope to be better than his mark.
“We’re looking forward to the day. Personally I think it’s the best stand-alone day in the calendar. It has always been a big local race, my grandfather and grandmother always had a big respect for the race and that’s carried through.”
Elsewhere on the Gowran Park card, lots of people will be excited by the prospect of Sir Gerhard making his chasing debut in the two-mile beginners chase. Last year’s Ballymore Novice Hurdle winner has been kept back from making his debut so far this season but could yet come into the reckoning for Cheltenham Grade 1 novice chase targets.
“Sir Gerhard is in great form,” Mullins reported. “We’re very happy with him at home and he has been working well. Willie has all the bases covered with him so we’ll just take it day by day with him. He has lots of options going forward.”
The Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle is also shaping up to be a good race with Hatton’s Grace Hurdle winner Teahupoo a possible for what would be his first try at three miles. Cheltenham winner Delta Work is also entered.