David Bridgwater has come in for the notable chance ride on Mr Mulligan in the Rehearsal Chase at Chepstow on Saturday, but coaxing the flamboyant jumper over the foxy Welsh fences may be the least of his problems.
The Rehearsal has established a notorious reputation in recent years, and even better horses than Mr Mulligan, the winner of five of his six races last season, have been dramatically humbled. Jodami in 1993 and Master Oats last year were both badly beaten when carrying the sash of reigning Gold Cup winners, and it remains the contention of the former's trainer, Peter Beaumont, that his horse was doped and that Master Oats showed such similarity in symptoms that he probably was too. The thorns in the fences will not be the only needles that Bridgwater and his weighing- room confederates may have to keep an eye out for at the weekend.
Bridgwater's call comes because Richard Johnson, Mr Mulligan's regular partner, is recuperating with a broken collar-bone. Mick Fitzgerald and Norman Williamson were initially approached for the ride, but both are travelling instead to Sandown's Tingle Creek meeting. "The problem is there is only one good race at Chepstow and two or three at Sandown," Noel Chance, the chestnut's trainer, said. "But David is happy to ride him. He will come down on Thursday and get to know the horse.
"I suspect it will be a test with the rain falling in Wales, but I would rather soft ground for Mr Mulligan anyway. If he runs well then he will go for the King George."
Mark Dwyer has also ridden Mr Mulligan before but the Irishman is in no state to resume the partnership after breaking his arm at Kelso on Monday. Dwyer was recovering in hospital in Melrose yesterday following In Good Faith's fall in the novice hurdle, a collapse that drove his jockey into the turf like a tent peg.
Dwyer, who will remain in hospital for two days, endured four hours of surgery and then reported over the telephone to his wife, Jane, at their Malton home. The details listed here are not appropropriare for someone about to embark on an extravagant lunch.
"They have inserted a plate and wired the arm up," Mrs Dwyer said. "He was highly drugged up last night but he is a lot brighter today. I think he is pretty comfortable.
"They [the rider's medical team] are slightly concerned about infection setting in. Apparently the bone came through the skin and they had to remove part of Kelso racecourse from the wound. Because of that they were wary of operating and they are now giving him intravenous antibiotics."
If anything, the pain may have increased yesterday afternoon when Alabang, whose primary education has been in the hands of Dwyer, won a novice hurdle at Newcastle ridden by Peter Niven. "I feel sorry for Mark because he's done the schooling and everything on this horse," Maurice Camacho, the winning trainer, said.
Dwyer's fellow Irishman Tony McCoy will occupy the saddle of the William Hill Handicap Hurdle favourite Teinein at Sandown on Saturday. About 20 runners are expected to go to post, with as many as four of them coming from Ireland.Reuse content