O’Sullivan now building special Bond with Fascile Mode

By Sports Desk December 02, 2023

Michael O’Sullivan will have a great chance of back-to-back victories in the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle when he partners Fascile Mode for Tom Mullins at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

The young starlet of the weighing room picked up his first Grade One when coolly steering Marine Nationale to win this event 12 months ago, before establishing himself as a leading rider when following up on Barry Connell’s stable star at the Cheltenham Festival.

O’Sullivan successfully linked up with Fascile Mode on the five-year-old’s hurdling bow at Punchestown and the exciting prospect’s experienced handler is delighted to have retained his services as he now steps up in grade.

“All the big yards have their big jockeys and one thing and another, but Michael is a very talented man and a talented jockey,” said Mullins.

“When he has the horse, he will win with it. He was very good on Marine Nationale last year and he’s a really good jockey – we’re very happy to have him.”

That 12-length Punchestown success was a welcome return to form for Fascile Mode, who impressed on his rules debut at Leopardstown last Christmas before failing to land a telling blow in some stiff assignments during the rest of his bumper season.

“We’re happy here and everything has gone very well since he won at Punchestown,” said Mullins.

“He has a season under his belt now and is stronger and has definitely improved as much as I hoped he would. He did it nicely at Punchestown and won well in the end.

“It was great to get back on track you know, he went to Cheltenham (for the Champion Bumper) and he got a kick at the start from another horse and it kind of stopped our season then and there.

“We got him back at Punchestown and we were thrilled and we have been thrilled ever since. We just hope we get a nice clean run on Sunday and see what happens.”

Encanto Bruno made a winning start to life in the care of Gavin Cromwell at Cheltenham in October and will seek to continue his progress, dropping back to the minimum two miles.

“We’re going back to two miles from two-and-a-half-miles at Cheltenham the last day, but he travelled very well at Cheltenham, so hopefully that won’t be a problem to him,” said Cromwell.

“The soft ground is probably as soft as he would want it, but he will hopefully cope with it fine and he seems in good nick.

“He’s like a lot of good horses and he doesn’t really show you much at home, he’s a really likeable, simple and straightforward horse. He clearly produces it on the track and they are the ones that you want.”

Disputing matters at the top of the market is Henry de Bromhead’s An Tobar, who was a taking course-and-distance scorer on debut, while Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins have traded blows in this race in recent history and between them are responsible for five of the eight declared runners.

Cullentra House stable jockey Jack Kennedy links up with Clonmel winner Farren Glory, with Elliott also saddling Gigginstown pair King Of Kingsfield and What’s Up Darling.

Hurricane Fly features among Mullins’ nine Royal Bond heroes and this time the Closutton master relies on the Rich Ricci-owned duo Bialystok and Horantzau D’airy.

Related items

  • British and Irish authorities announce anti-doping initiative British and Irish authorities announce anti-doping initiative

    Governing bodies in Britain and Ireland have pledged to pull together to enforce a “zero tolerance” policy on doping in horseracing.

    The British Horseracing Authority and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board will combine resources to formally continue stepping up levels of out of competition testing across both jurisdictions.

    To kick off the new anti-doping and medication control initiative, almost 250 samples were taken from more than 120 horses that are entered for the Cheltenham Festival in an operation across 14 training premises in Ireland.

    While any tests will be subject to individual IHRB or BHA protocols relating to the relevant region they are taken in, there will be a transparent exchange of any adverse results or findings that arise.

    All samples will be tested by LGC Laboratory, one of six laboratories worldwide which is recognised as a referenced laboratory by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.

    BHA director of equine regulation, safety and welfare James Given said: “The BHA welcomes the collaboration with the IHRB to demonstrate to stakeholders and the public that horses running from either side of the Irish sea in each other’s races do so under the same level of scrutiny.

    “Not only will our Medication Control and Anti-Doping (MCAD) team have access to more information about visiting horses, but there will be opportunities for our wider team to share ideas and best practice in other areas of our work.

    “Like the IHRB, this is aligned with our aims around international collaboration, the response to racecourse accidents and the overall improvement of equine safety and welfare.”

    IHRB chief veterinary officer Dr Lynn Hillyer commented: “The IHRB Strategy 2024-2027 commits us to close engagement with international horseracing bodies and benchmarking ourselves against best international practice.

    “This new venture shows stakeholders and the racing public that we collaborate as professionals across both sides of the Irish Sea, sharing best practice and resources and demonstrating equally stringent regulatory processes and standards to the extent that our anti-doping and medication control programmes are interoperable.

    “We are delighted to be collaborating with our BHA colleagues in this way and see it as a positive step forward that reinforces the point that there is no room for anything other than the highest standards of integrity and welfare in either jurisdiction.”

  • I Am Maximus has taken Fairyhouse exertions in his stride I Am Maximus has taken Fairyhouse exertions in his stride

    Connections are hoping I Am Maximus’ own brand of jumping is not his Achilles heel when he goes for Randox Grand National glory at Aintree.

    The reigning Irish Grand National champion put himself in the picture to follow in the footsteps of Rhyme ‘N’ Reason, Bobbyjo and Numbersixvalverde by also adding the Liverpool version with a dominant display in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse.

    That 14-length victory over last year’s Aintree runner-up Vanillier saw Willie Mullins’ eight-year-old made the general 10-1 joint-favourite for the world’s most famous steeplechase where he will attempt to give his handler a second victory in the race 19 years on from the success of Hedgehunter.

    With his stamina assured, it appears the major question I Am Maximus will have to answer when tackling the famous spruce on Merseyside surrounds his jumping.

    “He did well (in the Bobbyjo) and he’s got his own technique of jumping,” said owner JP McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry.

    “He seems to like Fairyhouse and he did it nicely. I believe he has come out of the race fine.

    “He has his own way of getting round so it will be interesting to see how that goes at Aintree, but he’s in good form and the plan will be to go there with him.

    “I don’t think stamina will be any problem to him and jumping could be his biggest problem. He will need a bit of luck but they all do round there.”

    McManus has won the Grand National with both Don’t Push It (2010) and Minella Times (2021) and I Am Maximus is one of five potential National runners in the famous green and gold silks alongside Closutton stablemates Capodanno and Janidil, Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies and Gavin Cromwell’s Limerick Lace.

  • The Gatekeeper knocking on the door for Lincoln honours The Gatekeeper knocking on the door for Lincoln honours

    Charlie Johnston is preparing Qipco Champions Day winner The Gatekeeper and his stablemate Dutch Decoy for the Pertemps Network Lincoln at Doncaster.

    The Gatekeeper carried the Middleham Park Racing colours to four victories last season, also scoring at Newcastle, Newmarket and Goodwood, as well as finishing a close second in the lucrative Golden Mile at the latter venue in high summer.

    He rounded off his campaign with a surprise success in the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot in October and will soon bid to add the season’s first major handicap to his CV, with Dutch Decoy another likely for his yard in the March 23 highlight.

    “The Gatekeeper and Dutch Decoy both did their first proper piece of work together on Thursday and they’re our two with the Lincoln as their target,” said Middleham-based Johnston.

    “The Gatekeeper will definitely run, Dutch Decoy was a little bit later coming back in and he’ll need everything to go smoothly for the next three weeks to make it, but at the moment the plan is to get them both there.

    “The Gatekeeper had an unbelievable year really when you consider he’d been off for 625 days before he came back. He actually won at Newcastle on this weekend last year as his comeback and rounded off the year with a career-best on Champions Day.

    “He’s gone up to 100 now, so life is going to be more difficult for him this year, but he was a real top-class handicapper last year and I’ve go no concerns about him going to Doncaster first time out.

    “We learnt as last year went on he actually quite likes a bit of dig in the ground, which it would seem fairly certain we’ll get for the Lincoln at this stage, so I’m looking forward to running him.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.