19 March 2024

Gaelic Warrior not ruled out of swift Fairyhouse return

19 March 2024

Brilliant Arkle winner Gaelic Warrior may be back out quickly for the WillowWarm Gold Cup at Fairyhouse on March 31.

Stablemate and subsequent dual Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs ran at both meetings as a novice, falling at the last when well clear in the Turners Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham before strolling to victory a month later.

The two races are closer together this season at just 19 days apart but trainer Willie Mullins has not completely ruled it out.

“We did it two years ago, we brought a horse back from Cheltenham to win this, so it can be done. I’ll see how Gaelic Warrior is,” said Mullins.

“He has a huge amount of ability. He won the three-mile novice hurdle at Punchestown that Galopin Des Champs won so I was never worried about his stamina, but the fact he can do this over a shorter trip is fantastic, it shows he has class.

“Ted Walsh always said a good Gold Cup winner could win a Champion Chase, as that is how you separate the ordinary Gold Cup winners from the very good ones, and this fellow has that type of ability, I think.”

Should Gaelic Warrior be given more time to recuperate, Blood Destiny is likely to try to give Mullins a sixth successive win in the race.

“I’m looking at Blood Destiny, he’s one that could go there. This race has been on my mind a while for him. We’d been trying him at two miles but a different way of riding him – we held him up in Navan – might suit for this race, I think,” he said.

“He has the speed when you need it so if Gaelic Warrior doesn’t come back for it, Blood Destiny could be a good substitute.”

Of his other entries in the Grade One, he added: “Facile Vega disappointed me at Cheltenham, I need to find out what is wrong with him.

“His home work suggests he has the ability I think he has. Indeed, his last three bits of work before Cheltenham, we thought he had a really good chance. Maybe we left our race at Closutton because his work was fantastic but he is taking a lot of working out.

“Fact To File had a hard enough race so I doubt he’d run, but Hercule Du Seuil worked well this morning.

“Il Etait Temps is a good, hardy horse and he could come back for it as well. If the ground came up nice and dry, I might let Sharjah take his chance and Tactical Move has the ability and is a nice type for that race.”

The other Grade One event at the Easter meeting is the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Honeysuckle Mares Novice Hurdle in which Jade De Grugy may attempt to atone for her Cheltenham defeat at the hands of Golden Ace.

“Jade De Grugy could run. I think you could say all the three Irish horses in her race were all marking one another. No one wanted to commit but then it was great to see Jeremy Scott winning, he had a great fan club there and it added a bit of atmosphere to the day,” said Mullins.

“Sometimes I don’t like coming back with a mare so soon as Cheltenham takes a lot out of them. Laurina managed to win both races, though.

“We have A Penny A Hundred with a chance, Cuta Des As with a chance but Fun Fun Fun could be the one as she didn’t go to Cheltenham.

“This is a Grade One and while it’s lovely to win in Cheltenham, I like to win Grade Ones, especially with mares, so it’s more important to go to Fairyhouse. We certainly did a lot of thinking this year regarding what we were keeping back for this, Cheltenham is only a Grade Two.

“If Jade De Grugy doesn’t make it back, I’d say Fun Fun Fun could be the one.”

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