Mullins admits fly in ointment after Hurricane suffers cough

Former Champion Hurdle favourite may miss intended Christmas Leopardstown run

Although Ireland's champion trainer Willie Mullins is, like his British counterpart Paul Nicholls, well clear of his rivals on the prize-money table, his progress through the season so far has not been so overtly high-profile. But 75 winners at a strike rate of 27 per cent and earnings of nearly £1m is hardly serving his owners badly and Mullins has plenty ready to prime for the glittering prizes yet to come.

He had news yesterday of some of his stars of last term, and not all of it positive. Some of the residents of Closutton stables, near Bagenalstown in Co Carlow, have been a bit chesty lately, including the Champion Hurdle candidate Hurricane Fly. The five-year-old had been ante-post favourite for the Cheltenham crown until he was beaten into third by Solwhit on his return and now is not certain to meet his reputation-redeeming engagement at Leopardstown a fortnight today.

"He's basically in great form," said Mullins, "but he gave a cough or two during the week. He had one bit of work last week but none this week as I thought he was a bit under the weather. I want to get him to Leopardstown but I'm minding him rather than trying desperately to get him there."

Mullins' best staying chaser, Cooldine, will definitely stay at home for his festive fun, heading for the Co Dublin track. The seven-year-old has not run since taking the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and his reappearance will be in the Lexus Chase rather than crossing swords with Kauto Star in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

There is another race against time for Mullins to get Mikael D'Haguenet, who won all six of his novice hurdles last season, ready for his eagerly awaited debut over fences at the Leopardstown meeting after some minor setbacks. The five-year-old's victories last term included the longer of the two Grade One novice contests at Cheltenham, and at Cork yesterday his stablemate Quel Esprit galloped to 8-1 clear favouritism for next year's edition. The grey swept away from his rivals for a three-length success in the Grade Three three-miler.

Mullins also took the Hilly Way Chase at Cork with Golden Silver, a third consecutive success for the yard after Our Ben and Scotsirish in the Grade Two two-mile contest, but at Navan had to settle for runner-up spots with the chasing debutant Cousin Vinny and novice hurdler Rhyl Accord, both short-priced favourites.

Cousin Vinny, winner of the Cheltenham Bumper the season before last, jumped well and lost little in defeat behind the more experienced Roberto Goldback. Rhyl Accord was left flat-footed by Shinrock Paddy for the day's feature, the Barbara & Sandra Kelly Memorial Novices' Hurdle. The five-year-old, who scored by 15 lengths and has the same Cheltenham target as Quel Esprit, provided a second Grade One prize in a week for trainer Paul Nolan and rider Alain Cawley, after Joncol at Punchestown.

Roberto Godback, trained by Jessica Harrington, has the RSA Chase as his long-term target, but although the former top-class staying hurdler Mighty Man, who made a successful bow over fences at Hereford yesterday, was also mentioned in betting dispatches for the race, he may end up back over smaller obstacles in the spring. Mighty Man's career has been constantly compromised by leg trouble, but at his best he was one of the best, with two Liverpool Hurdles to his credit. His innate talent was just as obvious over fences as he put in a fast, accurate round yesterday. "My only worry was the ground," said his trainer, Henry Daly, "as he doesn't like it soft. He'll run in another novice chase and then we'll make a plan. But I should think we'll end up back at the Liverpool Hurdle."

Early yesterday Britain's raiders at the Flat year's last hurrah in Hong Kong were out of luck. Spanish Moon, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, did best, caught in the last strides by the French challenger Daryakana in the Vase, and later Luca Cumani's Presvis took third behind another French raider, Vison D'Etat, in the Cup.

Both the Sprint and the Mile went to local heroes; the former was won by Sacred Kingdom and the latter by Good Ba Ba, who became the first horse to take the prestigous international contest three times.

Turf account: Sue Montgomery

*NAP

Westlin' Winds (1.05 Plumpton)

Easy winner of his first hurdle race on ground similarly testing to today's and, lightly raced on the Flat, is likely to be open to improvement. Can set up an across-the-codes double for the Charlie Egerton stable.



*NEXT BEST

Tamarind Hill (2.50 Wolverhampton)

Did well to finish a close second last time, after being chopped for room and forced wide, and is favourably weighted to go one better.



*ONE TO WATCH

Compensation must surely await Kilcrea Asla (T R George), who was travelling conspicuously well when he came down five fences from home at Doncaster on Saturday.



*WHERE THE MONEY'S GOING

Possol is down to 25-1 in the early Grand National market after continuing his progress towards Aintree with a handicap-guarding success over hurdles at Doncaster.



*Chris McGrath's Nap

El Dancer (1.35 Plumpton).

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
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

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model of a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution