One of the most exciting horses in training currently is returning to the track this Saturday in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
Willie Mullins’ Klassical Dream was a perfect four from four last year, landing two domestic Grade Ones either side of romping home in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
He’s currently the ante post favourite for the Champion Hurdle in March, best priced 7/2. Here’s an in-depth rundown on the conditions, his rivals, and more importantly whether he’ll win or not.
Punchestown forms part of a fantastic day’s racing on Saturday, with live coverage of Cheltenham and Lingfield on ITV. We have a guide to the November Meeting from Cheltenham. Be sure to make use of that and all our tips and analysis over the three day meet.
Klassical Dream faces just four rivals for the €59,000 prize. The Morgiana has become the personal piggy bank for the Mullins’ yard in recent years, with the stable winning the race every year since 2011. In that time, Mullins has saddled seventeen of the thirty five runners. It’s a similar situation this year with two of his four rivals coming from the same yard.
The main danger appears to be Sharjah. The six-year-old is officially rated three-pounds higher than his better fancied stablemate and beat the odds-on Faugheen in this race last year, posting an RPR of 168. He followed that victory with another Grade One at Fairyhouse before being brought down in the Champion Hurdle.
Both those victories came on a sound surface though. His six worst performances on RPRs over obstacles have come on soft or heavy ground. If he brings his A-game, he’d take the world of beating.
That seems a little unlikely under these conditions however, and whilst Mullins won it 2015 with Nichols Canyon and last year with his second string, everything is likely to revolve around Klassical Dream starting his season off with a win.
Seemingly the Mullins third string, but he’s a Grade One winner in his own right. He was very progressive as a four-year-old in the 2017-18 season, culminating in a cosy win in the Four-Year-Old Hurdle over course and distance.
He was raced just once last season. Sent off 13/8 favourite for a Grade Three at Naas in November, he was travelling slightly better than eventual winner Espoir D’Allen when taking a heavy fall at the last.
That form obviously looks all the stronger now. Furthermore, he’ll relish the testing conditions with him a winner of both starts on heavy ground. A clear personal best is required, however he’s far from exposed and does go well fresh.
Henry De Bromhead’s grey is now a fair way below his best. A dual Grade One winner in the 2016-17 season before placing in the Champion Hurdle, he’s winless in his last nine starts.
He was far from disgraced behind Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle here in May, beaten little more than four-lengths.
The eight-year-old was a long way below that level in a Grade Three at Tipperary on his return from a summer break however, finished a tame fourth behind Davids Charm. He needs to step markedly forward from that effort to threaten here.
A fairly useful handicapper a few seasons ago, he returned to his original trainer Ed Delany last summer after racing twice for Gordon Elliott.
The gelding was last of ten in a Bellewstown handicap in July 2018 before finishing third when a short-priced favourite over fences at Roscommon. Absent for 466 days, he should come up a long way short of the Champion Hurdle favourite.
Klassical Dream was peerless in the Novice Hurdle division, winning all four starts for Mullins. Those came on a variety of ground, with his three Grade Ones coming on good, soft and yielding.
His most destructive performance came at Cheltenham on soft ground. He beat the UK and Ireland’s most promising novice hurdles with bundles to spare, having a very classy field strung out behind him.
Whilst he’s good enough to win Grade Ones on quick ground, soft and heavy are his preferred conditions. With showers forecast for Punchestown, with the ground already soft to heavy, he’s going to get his ground.
Winning his maiden after a 391 day lay off last season, there should be no worry about the near-seven month absence. The Mullins’ yard comes alive at this time of year, and enjoyed big race success last weekend in the Lismullen Hurdle.
Already the favourite for the Champion Hurdle in March, Klassical Dream returns to the track with a huge reputation. There’s every reason for that after his performance in the Supreme, where he absolutely bolted up.
His whole season is going to be mapped out by the Mullins stable for success in March, with this, the Ryanair Hurdle at Christmas and February’s Irish Champion Hurdle the likely stepping stones.
He has a shade to find with Sharjah if they both turn up at their current best. That looks unlikely for two reasons; his rival isn’t at his best on heavy ground, and Klassical Dream will still have bags of improvement left within him.
Saldier looks the likely forecast option and should land a few nice pots before the season is out. He’s similarly unexposed and likes to get his toe in so won’t be inconvenienced by the ground. The other two have mountains to climb judged on more recent evidence.
Ultimately, Klassical Dream should win. No odds-on shot is good value but the forecast SP is far from excessively short. I won’t be rushing to back him on the day, nor for the Champion Hurdle at this moment in time. 7/2 on the day could well be great value but a lot can happen between now and March, and he’s unlikely to shorter dramatically by winning on Saturday.