Saldier lands Morgiana for Mullins

Saturday 16 November 2019 14:57, UK

Winning owner Rich Ricci (left) with jockey Paul Townend and trainer Willie Mullins in the parade ring after Faugheen wins the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle
Image: Winning owner Rich Ricci (left) with jockey Paul Townend and trainer Willie Mullins

Willie Mullins won a 10th Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown as Saldier emerged best of his three runners.

Stablemate Klassical Dream was the leading two-mile novice last term and after winning at Cheltenham and Punchestown in the spring, he was sent off the 2-5 favourite on his return.

In contrast, Saldier (7-1) was having his first run since he fell when seemingly travelling better than subsequent ill-fated Champion Hurdle winner Espoir D'Allen last November.

He suffered a broken nose and was given plenty of time to heal - making his return from 371 days on the sidelines here.

Everything seemed to be going to plan for Klassical Dream as he tracked Petit Mouchoir into the straight, with Saldier coming under pressure.

However, when Paul Townend pressed the button on Klassical Dream, there was little response and Saldier swept by to win by a length and a half.

Petit Mouchoir battled back for second, with Klassical Dream a further length back in third. Mullins' other runner, Sharjah, was fourth.

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Mullins said: "We've always liked Saldier, but it was just whether he would come back from his injury.

"His nose was in bits, but we decided not to have it operated and let nature take its course. We had the same trouble with Briar Hill, but operating on him didn't work.

"His run in the Fishery Lane (behind Espoir D'Allen) showed us he could be Grade One material.

"He quickened up well at the last and won like a nice horse. Hopefully they will all improve.

"Klassical Dream threw himself at the first hurdle and then he was just too keen. I think he'll improve from that, and a stronger gallop will help them all too.

"Patrick (Mullins) was never happy on Sharjah. I'd imagine he wanted the run badly and he'd want better ground.

"It has been a lucky race for us, not always with the first string, but they are all there doing their best and that's what happens."

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