Sunday, 2 July 2017

Champion Hurdle contender Wicklow Brave bids to establish Irish Leger claims.

Willie Mullins' brilliant dual purposer Wicklow Brave faces a strong field of seven as he bids to add the Curragh Cup to his CV.

Aiming for the Irish St Leger, he hopes to return to his best in the Group Two contest for Cheltenham-legend Mullins.

The eight-year-old has been a superstar for Mullins, with victories including the Irish St Leger, Irish Champion Hurdle and County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Following his Punchestown success he ventured to the USA to contest the Belmont Gold Cup, where he finished fourth.

He’s been installed as a short price favourite to take the Group Two prize, and Mullins is confident of a bold show.

"He ran a great race in the Belmont Cup on his last run," said Mullins, who saddled

"We were delighted, hopefully he can build on that.

"He drops down in trip a little but I don't think that should bother him too much, in fact it may be a bit better for him.

"He needs to handle the stalls better than he did at Belmont, and he does give some weight."

"I'm looking forward to running him."

Wicklow Brave beat the likes of Order Of St George, Arctic Fire, and quirky Supreme winner Labaik last season.

Although the Irish St Leger remains the principal target, he will be aimed at the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham where he finished eighth in 2017.

However he needed the run that day, making his first start since a midfield effort in the Melbourne Cup.

After his encouraging performance in Ireland, he’s a 20-1 chance to win at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.

"I'd love to take him back to the Irish St Leger," added Mullins.

"This is a good test for him, and we're taking it one step at a time."

"Hopefully he can run well today, and we can go forward from there."

Belgravia may be his biggest debut, after a promising fourth at Royal Ascot last week.

Ireland’s leading jumps trainer takes on Ireland’s leading flat trainer, as Aidan O’Brien fields two in the race.

Ryan Moore takes the ride of the well-bred Belgravia, who was last seen finishing fourth at Royal Ascot a week ago.

The full-brother to former Derby winner Ruler Of The World was beaten just over two lengths in the Queens Vase.

O’Brien’s other runner Wisconsin finished unplaced at Ascot.

Forgotten Rules has failed to live up promise since losing his unbeaten record when third in the Ascot Gold Cup.

He hasn’t tasted victory since 2015, but has run well in listed contests over this trip.

Elsewhere Rekindling steps up in trip after only defeating two rivals in the Derby, Stellar Mass runs for Jim Bolger and Elidor represents Mick Channon. 

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