RACING LEOPARDSTOWN 3-4 February Supasundae (red hat) reels in Faugheen en route to a 2 1 ⁄4-length victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle ‘Robbie Power was sure when he had Faugheen in his sights, he’d pick him up — it was some prep race’ JESSICA HARRINGTON ON SUPASUNDAE MIRACLE EDWULF SCORES UNLIKELY WIN THE Grade One Unibet Irish Gold Cup did not look the greatest race on paper. It contained a number of the usual suspects, including Outlander, Djakadam, the Irish National winner Our Duke — trying to get back to form after injury — and Killultagh Vic. On what was otherwise a big weekend for Willie Mullins, he had no luck in this race as Killultagh Vic was coming through to win the race when he fell at the last. That appeared to open it up for Outlander, however, it was the Joseph O’Brien-trained Edwulf — a 33/1 shot patiently ridden by crack amateur Derek O’Connor — who outstayed him up the run-in to win by a neck. After running in last year’s four-miler at Cheltenham, Edwulf suffered oxygen depletion, collapsed and was on the floor for over an hour. It is testament to Cheltenham’s vets that he is alive, let alone winning at the top level. “It didn’t look good at Cheltenham,” recalled O’Brien. “But the Cheltenham vets did a terrific job and encouraged us that he might recover. He was at Cheltenham for two weeks before he came home and I can’t stress enough the job the vets did. We started him off at Christmas, when he just got tired having been off so long.” Gold Cup-wise a more telling result may have been the victory of the Ladbroke Trophy winner Total Recall, who claimed the William Fry Hurdle — his first start since his win at Newbury in December. He will go for the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse, traditionally more of a National trial, before Mullins thinks about the Gold Cup. SUNDAE’S SUPER SCALP FAUGHEEN, meanwhile, was out to put himself back on track for the Champion Hurdle in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle and it was certainly better than his run at Christmas, when he pulled up. However, finishing two-and-a-quarter lengths second to Supasundae — a horse ostensibly having a warm-up for the Stayers’ Hurdle — was some way short of his best. “I’m disappointed,” said Willie Mullins. “It wasn’t half as bad as his run here in December. He had no spark and he’s going to have to improve a lot if he is to get back to anything like he was.” Supasundae, trained by Jessica Harrington for the late Alan and Ann Potts, won last season’s Coral Hurdle and will now go to the Stayers’, for which he is now joint-favourite with Sam Spinner. Though he clearly gets three miles, he is yet to win over it — having been narrowly beaten by Yanworth at Aintree and Apple’s Jade at Leopardstown at Christmas. “It was basically a sharpener for the Stayers’,” Harrington said. “I’ve never seen him jump so well and he was always travelling — I thought they might go too quick for him over two miles but they didn’t. Robbie Power was sure when he had Faugheen in his sights he would pick him up and he did. When he jumped the last he pricked his ears and galloped all the way to the line.” She added: “It was some prep. He’s only in the three-mile race at Cheltenham and that’s where he will go. He’s a much better horse on better ground and doesn’t like slogging around on heavy, which is why he is so much better in the spring.” Total Recall (Paul Townend, red) warms up for the Cheltenham Gold Cup with a winning run over hurdles Pictures by Getty Images 66 Horse & Hound 8 February 2018
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