Willie Mullins had a fantastic Dublin Racing Festival which is no surprise given the firepower that he has. He is also no stranger to British shores and we will see so many horses from Closutton line up at Cheltenham in a few week’s time.
Nonetheless, it has to be very interesting that he sends just one horse across to Newbury Racecourse on Saturday. This horse runs in the valuable Betfair Hurdle, a race that the Irish has failed to win since Essex won the race back in 2005.
Emmet Mullins has the current favourite for the race in the form of Filey Bay but sporting the very same JP McManus silks, Willie Mullins’ Icare Allen might give him plenty to think about with Jonjo O’Neill junior in the plate.
Twice a winner over hurdles for this yard, he finished a respectable fourth behind Vauban in the Triumph at the Cheltenham Festival last March and he had no other than Il Etait Temps behind him on the day, one of the favourites for this year’s Supreme.
Taking all of that into account, Icare Allen could remain very well handicapped from a mark of just 146 and he arrives here off the back of a solid third to Merlin Giant at Fairyhouse in December. That was possibly just a prep run for this race and you can be sure we will see a better performance now.
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