Bryan Keane/INPHO Willie Mullins.
# Leopardstown
Mullins waits on Appreciate It decision and Nicholls planning dual assault
Appreciate It is second favourite for the Champion Hurdle behind last year’s winner Honeysuckle.

WILLIE MULLINS WILL wait until later in the week before deciding whether to allow Appreciate It to take on Honeysuckle in the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle.

Not seen since winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, Appreciate It was due to pursue a career over fences this term before injury prompted a change of tack.

The eight-year-old is second-favourite for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham behind last year’s winner Honeysuckle, who will first bid to complete her hat-trick in the Irish equivalent at Leopardstown.

Whether Appreciate It makes his comeback in Sunday’s feature remains to be seen, with the Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran Park mooted as a potential alternative.

Speaking at Punchestown on Monday, Mullins said: “We’ve no decision made yet. He worked well the other week and he’ll work again this week, then we’ll see where we go.

“It’s all up in the air at the moment. I chatted to the owner (Michael Masterson) there after Kilcruit won and he’s happy to let him work and see where we are.”

Whether Appreciate It turns up or not, Mullins will again be well represented across Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival.

Chacun Pour Soi will bid to bounce back from Tingle Creek disappointment by securing a third successive win in Sunday’s Ladbrokes Dublin Chase, while defending champion Kemboy will lead what is likely to be a strong Mullins team in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup on Saturday.

“Chacun looks good and he’ll work tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get him there,” Mullins added.

“Most of them will go in the Irish Gold Cup – Kemboy will go, Melon will go and Asterion Forlonge could go. We’ll let them take their chances.”

Chief among the champion trainer’s most exciting novice prospects is Galopin Des Champs, who made a huge impression on his fencing debut at Leopardstown over Christmas and is due to return for Sunday’s Ladbrokes Novice Chase.

On his novice chasing team, Mullins added: “They may as well go and get experience because we are lacking in experience. We’ll work them all over the next couple of days and we’ll see what is well enough to run.”

Track officials at Leopardstown have been pouring on the water amid criticism of conditions at previous Festivals.

Mullins admits concerns remain, saying: “You’d have to be worried. They say they’ve put 160 millilitres of water on it. It’s great to hear that’s being done.”

Paul Nicholls and Bryony Frost will team up with Frodon and Greaneteen at the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend.

bryony-frost-and-paul-nicholls-celebrate-winning-with-frodon Dan Sheridan / INPHO Bryony Frost and Paul Nicholls celebrate winning with Frodon. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Nicholls, who has decided not to run dual King George and Punchestown Gold Cup winner Clan Des Obeaux in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup, believes the guaranteed better ground at Leopardstown will be suitable for both of his Grade One winners.

Frodon could take on previous winner Kemboy, while Greaneteen is set for a mouthwatering clash with Chacun Pour Soi.

“Clan is not going, he is going to wait for the Denman Chase. Frodon is going to go and Greaneteen will run in the two-mile chase, so two of them are going out there,” Nicholls told Betfair.

While Frodon has made the running in plenty of races in past, Nicholls does not think he needs to make all, especially after a battle for the early lead with Minella Indo in the King George at Kempton took its toll.

“Everyone knows the way he runs, but he doesn’t have to. He won’t be getting in a fight like he has been of late – it was ridiculous what happened last time,” said Nicholls.

“Bryony can ride him how she feels. It’s a big, galloping track which is more suitable for him and it will be better ground. We’ll see what happens on the day.

“If you’re making it you’ve got to go a sensible pace, not too quick like the two of them did at Kempton over the first half-mile.”

Greaneteen looked very good in the Tingle Creek, in which Chacun Pour Soi disappointed, but proved no match for Shishkin at Kempton over Christmas.

“He was good in the Tingle Creek and then we probably ran him back too quick at Kempton, but we didn’t think Shishkin was going to turn up and then he did but we decided to have a go,” said the champion trainer.

“He ran OK, the ground went a bit soft and he will like the better ground and he’ll like the track.

“We’ve two nice chances and it’s nice to have runners at the Dublin Racing Festival. Bryony will ride both and it’s exciting.”

Nicholls also had news on smart juvenile Iceo, who was well beaten at Cheltenham on Saturday behind Pied Piper.

“I’d say he’s a proper National Hunt horse, not a Flat horse, and I don’t think we’ll even bother entering him for the Triumph,” he said.

“He obviously wants soft ground and he’s got to learn to settle in those better races, he was a bit keen. He’ll be going for races like the Victor Ludorum at Haydock where he’ll get some soft ground.

“He’s a chaser of the future, so we’ll bear that in mind – we found that out on Saturday and the Triumph won’t be his race.”

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