Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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WILLIE Mullins appears to have a strong hand in the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday where he is set to be represented by Cabaret Queen and Yorkhill.
Mullins’ duo is amongst 24 entries for the Grade 3 three miles and two-furlong Ladbrokes Trophy (previously known as the Hennessy Gold Cup) which the trainer attempts to win for the second time in three years after the victory of Total Recall in 2017.
Cabaret Queen has raced twice for Mullins since joining his yard in the summer, finishing second on her debut before racing prominently throughout to win the valuable JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National by 13 lengths at Limerick last month.
The manner of victory did not escape the attention of the handicapper who has put the seven-year-old up 16lbs. Mullins believes his charge may still be progressing.
“When fillies start to improve they usually keep improving,” Mullins said.
“Cabaret Queen got a huge penalty for winning the Munster National, however she is still in with a light enough weight. She gallops, jumps and stays so we are going there with a good bit of hope.
“She appeared to really like Irish style fences, though whether they were any different from what she’d been jumping I don’t know. She was spectacular and gained a huge amount of ground in the air and seemed to do it effortlessly. It was probably a combination of the extra trip and our style of fences.”
Mullins, who confirmed stable jockey Paul Townend was likely to ride Cabaret Queen, admitted he was taken aback by the manner of her win at Limerick.
“It totally surprised me,” he said. “We had just won the Irish Cesarewitch at the time so I rushed off the presentation stand up to the big screen to watch the race. I had forgotten her colours and I was trying to find her. I only picked up the race with a mile to run and I could see something going effortlessly in front, not realising it was our own filly.
“When the commentary came through it was as big a surprise to me as it was to anyone else that she was doing it so effortlessly in front.
“I am hoping there is scope for a bit more improvement. It’s a big prize and getting into it with a weight like that you have to hope there is. When fillies start to improve they usually keep improving.”
Yorkhill captured the JLT Novices’ Chase at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival but had not won for over two years, until scoring at Galway in August. He takes his chance having dropped 12lb in the handicap since his peak.
Mullins added: “Yorkhill seems to go well left-handed. I know he won in Galway right-handed but at least that has given him a bit of confidence. He has come down about 10lb or maybe more from his top rating.
“I think left-handed should be a big advantage to him. I think he is in better form and that drop in the weights will be a help.”
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