Following a spell in the wilderness, dual Cheltenham Festival scorer Yorkhill recorded a long overdue success on the final day of the Galway Festival.
Trained by Willie Mullins, the nine-year-old had looked to have the world at his feet after landing the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2016 and the JLT Novices’ Chase 12 months later.
He was talked off as a potential Queen Mother Champion Chase type , or even a Cheltenham Gold Cup prospect, after the latter which earned him a career high rating of 164. However, the wheels then came off in no uncertain fashion and the Graham Wylie owned gelding turned into an enigmatic and unpredictable beast.
Yorkhill would pull ferociously in his races and often gave away huge amounts of ground when jumping violently to his left. The combination of both proved his downfall and numerous occasions and had many questioning as to whether he had fallen out of love with the game and totally lost the plot. That certainly appeared to be the case in my eyes, but Mullins is a master who would not chuck in the towel.
He persevered with Yorkhill and following an unseat early doors in the Galway Plate his patience was rewarded four days later when the son of Presenting landed the seven-runner Watch Racing TV Now Chase by three lengths from his stable companion Some Neck. The fact that he was racing right-handed was never going to be in his favour, and Yorkhill once again showed his tendency to jump to the left.
But it was nowhere near as severe as it had been in the past and jockey Paul Townend made good use of use of a loose horse to caress him into the race travelling sweetly. Victory was never in doubt after Yokrhill cruised to the front travelling strongly after the last and he only had to be pushed out on the mammoth run-in to score comfortably.
Kerry National the Target
A delighted, and somewhat relieved Mullins – who saddled a total of 10 winners at the seven day extravaganza in Ballybrit – now has a crack at the Kery National in mind for Yorkhill.
Speaking to Racing TV, he said: “It’s good to get him back winning.We’ll probably go for the Kerry National and get him going left-handed.
“The week worked out better than expected, as I didn’t think we had the same firepower this year. A lot of things went our way which didn’t always happen and we managed to have a decent spread of jockeys riding winners for us which is always good.”
That race does look the ideal type of contest for Yorkhill as he doesn’t look capable of cutting any mustard in Grade 1s any more. Indeed, he can be backed at 100/1 for the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup. The big question, however, is whether he can now build in that confidence boosting success.
Consistency is a thing no longer associated with Yorkhill. When he is good, he is very, very good. When he is bad, he is horrid. It will be fascinating to see how he gets on in the Kerry National as he is undoubtedly on a handy mark at present. Would I back him with my own hard earned to get the job done? Probably not given his overall profile.
Classy Hurdler Agrapart Among Shergar Cup Stayers Entries
Agrapart is a fascinating entry in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers at Ascot on Saturday, August 10.
Trained by Nick Williams, this eight-year-old is a very smart hurdler who the Betfair Hurdle in 2016. He is also a dual Grade 2 scorer at Cheltenham having landed the Relkeel Hurdle in 2017 and the Cleeve Hurdle 12 months later.
Agrapart is currently rated 150 over the obstacles having been 161 at his peak. He is able to race off flat mark of just 80 having been raised just 3lb for landing en eight-runner affair over this course and distance when last seen in action back in May.
It makes the son of Martaline potentially very well-treated from a handicapping perspective and he can currently be backed at a top priced 12/1 with bet365 for the 2m contest. That could be each-way value, especially if the forecast rain arrives and provides Agrapart with the soft ground that he relishes.
His stable are not averse to landing a gamble, so it will be fascinating to see if the money comes for Agrapart prior to the off at 1.40pm.