Mullins Lands Unibet Morgiana Hurdle With Surprise Package
Willie Mullins made it eight wins on the bounce in today’s Grade 1 Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown but not in the order that many expected as Sharjah shocked his odds on stablemate Faugheen.
The defections of Supasundae and Samcro owing to the ground left this race at the mercy of the champion trainer and Faugheen was a 2/5 shot to follow up last year’s victory in this race.
However, the front runner had an answer to the Paul Townend-ridden Sharjah in the straight and the Galway Hurdle hero pressed on to score by seven and a half lengths. There was a further ten lengths back to Tombstone.
“The other two (Faugheen and Tomstone) took each other on up front and maybe galloped each other into the ground, luckily we had one in behind to take advantage,” said Mullins.
“There were no hurdles down the back to get a breather and the two horses up front were at it the whole time. Paul (Townend) told me that he thought he’d win leaving the backstraight which is a long way out for someone to say that.
“Sharjah done a lot for the season and after his run at Down Royal I was wondering should we give him a break but after that I’d say that we will head on to Christmas with him,” added Mullins.
In terms of the Morgiana absentees Supasundae is likely to head to next month’s Hatton’s Grace Hurdle while Gordon Elliott is weighing up options for Samcro.
“He’s in the Hatton’s Grace but we have Apple’s Jade for that and it’s probably more likely that he will head for the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle in a couple of weeks,” reported Elliott.
“I’ve got to speak to Michael and Eddie (O’Leary) but that’s the way we are leaning. It’s disappointing he didn’t get to run today and I’m especially disappointed for everyone who came to see him and Punchestown who made such a great effort with the ground all week.”
There was further joy for Willie Mullins and Sharjah’s owner Susannah Ricci earlier on the card as Some Neck came through late on deny Blow By Blow in the Grade 2 Liam and Valerie Brennan Memorial Florida Pearl Novice Chase.
“David rides him well. That’s twice he’s come from off the pace with him. I imagine we were a little fortuitous as the Gigginstown horses took each other on plenty early enough and it’s worked in our favour today,” declared Mullins.
The card concluded with another quality display from Gordon Elliott’s Malone Road who made it two wins from as many starts by trouncing chief rival Mt Leinster in the Gray Construction (Pro-Am) INH Flat Race.
Afterwards Elliott confirmed that Malone Road would be heading straight for the bumper at Cheltenham in March.