Willie Mullins has a superb record in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle so it’s little surprise to see all three of his representatives among the top-five in the betting.
Mullins has struck twice from five runners in the contest in its six-year history, making the frame once in addition.
Of the three, the second named makes most appeal, with both stable vibes and his path to the festival this season suggesting they fancy him the right horse for the job.
Speaking in Racing Post Q and A, Patrick Mullins, the leading amateur jockey and son of Willie, couldn’t have been happier with McKinley’s handicap rating, saying:
“McKinley looks to have got a fantastic mark for a Grade 1 winner.”
Mullins Junior also described Roi Des Francs as “better than his mark”.
However, in a Racing Post live chat in the week before the festival he said that while the latter was well handicapped, McKinley was ‘Tony-Martin handicapped’.
News.ladbrokes.com readers are left to make their own conclusions about exactly what young Mullins meant by that, but it would seem to augur well as far his mark for the Martin Pipe is concerned.
After all, for all the form of his Navan win in January can be crabbed, he remains a Grade 1 winner as result of it, having downed stablemate Tell Us More in recording it.
Both previous winners of McKinley’s Cheltenham assignment to share his Closutton home had also taken in a novice hurdle at the same track in the season leading up to their victories in the race.
Neither of Mullins other 2015 representatives have visited Navan this term, suggesting that if any of them is following the well-trodden trail to glory in the ‘boy’s race’ then it’s the selection.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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