Cooldine can ride Mullins' wave of success

The more horses tell us about themselves, the harder they become to predict. Denman, who tops the bill on the second day of the Punchestown Festival, was once viewed as the epitome of hardiness in body and soul. Since his success in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup, however, a variety of physical and mental frailties has been proposed to account for a record of only one win in six starts. Admittedly, these defeats include excellent seconds in both subsequent Gold Cups, but his connections nowadays increasingly acknowledge that he has a mind of his own.

He arrives for the Guinness Gold Cup miles clear on the ratings, and is perfectly capable of finishing the race the same way. At the same time, the memory of his fall at Aintree last spring will make him an unnerving proposition at short odds – regardless of all this talk about his latent quirks. He was flat to the boards in similar conditions that day, and it would be no surprise to see Cooldine, only fifth at Cheltenham, prove a tougher opponent today.

In fading uncharacteristically on the hill, Cooldine may not have been quite on top of his game after a campaign restricted to just two previous starts. Certainly, he retains every right to retrieve the promise of his brilliant performance in the RSA Chase last year, and his trainer began this meeting yesterday in the sort of form that was at once familiar and astonishing.

Willie Mullins saddled no fewer than a dozen winners last year, and promptly won all three of the Grade One prizes on the opening card this time round – through Blackstairmountain, Golden Silver and Kempes. The first two were ridden by Paul Townend, seizing the opportunity to confirm his coming of age as deputy, in the Mullins yard, to the injured Ruby Walsh.

Golden Silver beat the inevitable Forpadydeplasterer – second, unbelievably, for the fifth time in five starts this term – in the Boylesports Champion Chase, with Sizing Europe back in third. Having proved himself the best novice over two miles at Cheltenham, he acquitted himself honourably in open company for the first time, jumping well in front. But his trainer, Henry de Bromhead, was vexed by the lack of pace, feeling that Sizing Europe had been ill-suited by making his own running. (Twist Magic had refused to start.) This experience will doubtless pay off next season, but Golden Silver – himself well down the field at Cheltenham, behind Big Zeb – emerged in his slipstream turning in, still tanking. He saw off Forpadydeplasterer by two and a half lengths, in the process disproving that he needs softer going.

"I was a bit worried about the ground," Mullins admitted. "But we changed our tactics and it seems to have worked. He's a horse with a lot of ability, more than he shows at home, and we're just getting the hang of him."

Blackstairmountain had earlier shown in the Evening Herald Champions Novice Hurdle just why his trainer had been so disappointed with his own, midfield finish at Cheltenham. Turned over since in bad ground at Fairyhouse, this time he was always cruising under Townend and, having asserted approaching the last, idled conspicuously as he held his stablemate Flat Out by two and a half lengths. General Miller, favourite after beating Menorah at Aintree, was clearly off his game 11 days later – predictable enough, you might say, but for the fact that Blackstairmountain could easily have left this prize behind at Fairyhouse.

"The ground was horrible that day and he had a really hard race," Mullins acknowledged. "He didn't work particularly well during the week, but we said we'd take a chance – there would be no point having him right next week. He loves this ground and it has made a huge difference to him. He has had an easy season, so might have a couple of runs on the Flat before we put him out. We will stick to hurdling next season."

Kempes, pulled up at the same Fairyhouse meeting last time, was another to relish the better conditions in the Growise Champion Novice Chase. He was always going smoothly under Tony McCoy before closing out the race decisively from China Rock.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Kajima (5.15 Epsom) Clearly considered better than his rating, heavily backed on his return; strong finish then suggests extra furlong could make the difference.

Next best

Hevelius (2.55 Epsom) Only a couple of pounds higher than when unlucky at Newmarket last autumn.

One to watch

Cityscape (R Charlton) Disappeared after finishing lame in the 2,000 Guineas last year but his comeback at Newbury last Saturday, weaving through into fourth, confirmed his calibre.

Where the money's going

Coral have cut Rumoush to 8-1 from 10-1 for the Stan James 1,000 Guineas.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Events Consultant

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen for an ex...

Recruitment Genius: Injection Moulding Supervisor

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Busy moulding company requires ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Advisor - £35,000 OTE

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Advisor is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor / Contact Centre Advisor

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As the UK's leading accident an...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003