National a big target for red-hot Mullins

 

The trainer whose domination of Irish jump racing is surely exceeding all precedent – at least in matching quantity with quality – yesterday laid down two fresh markers to measure the restless limits of his dominion. Willie Mullins not only set a new record for the fastest 100 in an Irish season, but also accounted for no fewer than a dozen of the 82 entries published for the John Smith's Grand National.

These include The Midnight Club, who started favourite last year and shaped as though he might have finished much closer than sixth with a smoother journey round. Brought down early when reappearing over hurdles at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting, he rallied well over an inadequate distance when restored to fences at Tramore on New Year's Day and takes another quiet step on the road back to Aintree in a similar affair at Clonmel this afternoon.

Ruby Walsh takes the mount, but starts the day in London with an appeal against the three-day suspension for careless riding that so aggrieved him at Cheltenham on Saturday. His fine record over the National fences would almost guarantee favouritism for his chosen ride at Aintree on 14 April.

His other main patron, Paul Nicholls, has made just two National entries – Neptune Collonges and Niche Market – but Mullins is certain to give Walsh plenty to think about in the meantime. For now perhaps his most tempting option is On His Own, so impressive at Gowran last week on his second start since joining Mullins from Howard Johnson.

After Mullins, Dessie Hughes has the biggest entry with five – the pair contributing to an overall Irish tally of 31. Ballabriggs, last year's winner, shares 16-1 favouritism in Betfred's book with Junior and Synchronised, and is expected to warm up at Kelso once again on 3 March.

With a huge purse of £975,000, the National could easily prove decisive in the trainers' championship and Nicky Henderson, like Nicholls craving a first success in the race, has three interesting candidates in Burton Port, Quantitativeeasing and Shakalakaboomboom.

Mullins meanwhile reached his landmark – beating his own record, set two years ago, by 12 days – when Soll landed short odds in a novice chase at Down Royal. As such a big, bold animal, it is not impossible that Soll might himself make an Aintree horse some day. In the shorter term, Mullins hopes he can join his formidable Cheltenham Festival team, in the National Hunt Chase over four miles. Noting that Soll still looked green yesterday, he would like to give him another start in the meantime but may decide to keep him fresh.

"I'm delighted to make 100," Mullins added. "We have such a quality of horse at the minute. We'll just keep our fingers crossed that we can keep them healthy."

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's nap

Night Rose (3.15 Wincanton)

Looked poised to break her duck when falling two out last time. That was a further step forward and another can earn compensation.

 

Next best

Webberys Dream (3.45 Wincanton)

Dropped in trip today, having shown plenty of dash to win over 2m 5f at this track last time.

 

One to watch

That'lldoboy (Paul Nicholls)

Still on the bridle when falling three out at Cheltenham on Saturday.

 

Where the money's going

Zarkandar, very well treated in the valuable Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday week, is now down to 3-1 from 7-2 with William Hill.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
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

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Teaching Assistant to work with Autistic students

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: KS2 Teacher needed in Peterborough a...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain