Mister Policeman made a winning chase debut for Willie Mullins at Fairyhouse – but was made to work all the way to the line by lesser-fancied stablemate Feu Du Bresil.

Something of a talking horse at Mullins’ recent open morning, the Rich and Susannah Ricci-owned five-year-old had some decent types behind him when winning at Cork in April.

Sent off at 4-9 under Paul Townend for the Irish National Hunt Chase CLG Beginners Chase with Danny Mullins on Feu Du Bresil, the latter jumped better on the way round and held an advantage after the final fence.

It was to the favourite’s credit that he knuckled down and eventually got up to win by three-quarters of a length, although his Arkle odds with Paddy Power were lengthened to 12-1 from 8s.

“It was messy, we went very slow, he missed the second-last and Danny got away on me,” said Townend.

“I liked that when I gave him a flick at the back of the last that I was back on top and it was snug by the time I got to the line.

“His jumping can sharpen up and I’d say a faster pace will help his jumping.”

He added: “He probably rides a bit bigger than he looks. I thought going along we were only in schooling mode for the majority of the race. He’d be better at a faster pace when let jump.

“The runner-up ran to a good level in Punchestown and he’s unexposed. He’s improving away the whole time and I’d say he’s growing into himself. He’s a nice yardstick, but you’d be hoping to beat him at the same time.”

Gordon Elliott’s Better Days Ahead (2-9 favourite) atoned for a recent fall at Down Royal when barely coming out of a canter in the Sign Up To GavinLynchRacing.com Maiden Hurdle.

“Jack (Kennedy) said he would have done more at home and it was a nice school round for him,” said Elliott.

“It was a nice confidence booster after falling the last day. He jumped great there today.

“He’ll have to head for one of those good novice hurdles now, whether it’s this side of Christmas or not, I don’t know.

“Three miles won’t bother him or he could go back to Navan in a few weeks’ time for one of those novice hurdles there because he didn’t have a hard race there.

“He probably likes a bit of soft ground, the way he handled it there. Jack said when he gave him a squeeze after the second-last he picked up very quickly.”

Klassical Dream made a faultless start to his career over fences in the Download The BetVictor App Irish EBF Beginners Chase at Thurles.

The Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old has an impressive seven Grade One successes over hurdles on his CV, including three back-to-back wins in the Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown.

His chasing debut came over two miles and six furlongs at Thurles, where he was the 1-4 favourite under Paul Townend in a field of 11.

Making the running from the start, the gelding was foot perfect at every fence and made incredibly light work of the race to canter home nine and a half lengths ahead of his nearest rival with the rest of the field strung out behind him.

“We’d have been disappointed if we were beaten, but he was foot perfect everywhere. He was quick getting from A to B and behaved himself relatively well as well, so maybe he has grown up,” Townend said.

“I never had to interfere as he was lining up his fences from 10 strides away and I only had to encourage him and not fall off. He was good and clever and was able to sort himself out at fences as well, which was a nice thing to take from it.

“He achieved a lot over hurdles and was a high-class horse to be going chasing. He had done plenty schooling and has taken to it really well.

“He hasn’t a million miles on the clock either and has loads of fire in his belly.”

Klassical Dream’s ante-post odds for a range of chasing targets have now been trimmed with Betfair, who make him 10-1 from 20s for the National Hunt Chase, 14s from 25-1 for the Turners Novices’ Chase and 14-1 for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

Paul Townend is relishing the prospect of being reunited with Galopin Des Champs this weekend, when the Cheltenham Gold Cup hero bids for back-to-back victories in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old kicked off a tremendous campaign with victory in the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One last season before going on to lift the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown and the blue riband at Prestbury Park in March.

He suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Martin Brassil’s Fastorslow on his final start of the campaign in the Punchestown Gold Cup – and the pair are set to renew rivalry in the feature event on day two of the new-look Winter Festival in County Kildare.

“I’m looking forward to Galopin Des Champs, every day you get to get up on a Gold Cup winner is a brilliant day and they’re the type of horses we wall want,” said Townend.

“He takes on Fastorslow, which won’t be an easy task. He beat us here at the Festival, so we’ll have to try to get our own back on him.”

Galopin Des Champs and Fastorslow are two of nine horses in contention for the John Durkan, with Mullins also responsible for Appreciate It, Asterion Forlonge, Blue Lord and Stattler.

Gordon Elliott’s pair of Conflated and Farouk D’alene, and French Dynamite from Mouse Morris’ yard, complete the potential field.

Mullins and Elliott are the only two trainers represented in Saturday’s main event, the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle.

State Man provided Mullins with a ninth win in the last 10 years when successful 12 months ago and is in the mix once again alongside stablemates Impaire Et Passe, Ashroe Diamond and Echoes In Rain.

Townend, who will presumably be on the stable’s first string, added: “It’s the most exciting time of year – none of them have been beaten yet (this season)!

“It’s a joy to go into Willie’s and look at the board and see the names. There’s a lot of big names from last year and a lot of new horses there – we’re trying to find the next superstar at this time of year.”

The Elliott trio of Fils D’oudairies, Irish Point and Pied Piper are the other Morgiana hopefuls.

He is likely to run at least two of the three, and said: “Pied Piper will go for the Morgiana. He’s hard to place but we’ll have a go. He’s in good form and he’s had his good run on the Flat the last day.

“I’ll probably run Fils D’oudairies as well. On ratings he has a lot to find, but it could be only a three- or four-runner race.”

Allaho made the perfect return to action when making every yard of the running in the Clonmel Oil Chase.

The nine-year-old had not been seen in action since slamming Clan Des Obeaux over three miles in the Punchestown Gold Cup back in 2022.

However, he has made his name as a chaser over intermediate trips, winning the extended two-and-a-half-mile Ryanair at Cheltenham twice in succession in devastating style.

A problem with his spleen meant he missed the whole of last season and he was having his first outing for 561 days, but Paul Townend was clearly not worried about fitness on the 1-4 favourite.

Out early for one of Willie Mullins’ stable stars, he was a little sticky at one or two fences on the way around but was never really in any danger.

With French Dynamite pulled out because of the ground, stablemate Janadil was the only real opposition and while he did close up on the run to the second last, two safe leaps ensured there was to be no drama and Allaho won by nine lengths.

Betfair and Paddy Power left the winner unchanged at 4-1 to win a third Ryanairm while Coral are a far more generous 7-1 from 8s.

“He was a bit rusty early on and uncompetitive for the first couple of fences, but I wasn’t going revving him up. He certainly didn’t feel any smaller and is a big horse to try to organise, so you just let him do his thing,” said Townend.

“He is massive and I was chatting to Rachael (Blackmore) not that long ago – as she won the Ryanair (in 2021) on him – and he just covers so much ground. You think you are just lobbing along but he puts other horses under so much pressure.

“He took plenty of blows today and it is hard work with everything finishing tired. He was entitled to get tired having been off the track for so long, but it is job done and there is plenty to work on.

“It is brilliant to get him back and his engine looks to be there. It is job done and Willie can make a plan after this.”

Allegorie De Vassy began her season with a win in the T.A. Morris Memorial Irish EBF Mares Chase, although she was made to work hard by stable companion Instit.

Sent off the 8-11 favourite, Willie Mullins’ Allegorie De Vassy made a mistake and the first and jumped the second very big before settling into a rhythm.

In the meantime Danny Mullins had Instit travelling well in front and and the pair were out to repeat their victory over their better-fancied stable companion at Fairyhouse in April.

Paul Townend began to get serious on the market leader two from home and was all out with a narrow advantage at the last, which she met on a long stride to seal the deal.

She ended up winning by two and a quarter lengths with Henry de Bromhead’s Maskada, winner of the Grand Annual, a little disappointing in fourth.

Townend said: “She ended off last year poorly and couldn’t have started better this year. There’s plenty to work on and I thought the two mares (Allegorie De Vassy and Instit) ran well, and the two will come on for it.

“On the whole, she’s a very good jumper, but for whatever reason she just gave the first a good clout and got careful for a fence or two. She was big after that for a couple but warmed up and when I needed her down the straight, she came through.

“She was beaten by a very good mare at Cheltenham (Impervious) and that probably left a mark for the rest of the season. She’s back now and we’re delighted with her.”

Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy tuned up for what they hope will be a fruitful two days at Down Royal with a double.

Farren Glory, thought good enough to make his hurdling debut in a Grade Two at Fairyhouse last April, put that experience to good use when making all the running in the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle.

He beat fellow 13-8 joint-favourite Irish Panther by almost 10 lengths.

Kennedy said: “He jumped a bit big at a couple but I’m very happy with him overall. He was keen but I think he’ll settle in behind a couple of horses.

“He did plenty with me the whole way around but still picked up well and galloped to the line. He is a lovely horse and I was impressed with him.”

Stuzzikini (9-2) then cruised to success in the Clonmel Oil Service Station Handicap Hurdle, beating Kim Muir winner Angels Dawn by 31 lengths.

“To be honest, I was always happy. I got there plenty soon on him as he can pull up in front but there was nothing to bring me along any further,” said Kennedy.

“I thought he loved that ground and hopefully he can keep going the right way.”

Jumps fans are served up a midweek treat in Ireland on Thursday as one of the sport’s superstars makes his long-awaited return in the Clonmel Oil Chase.

Willie Mullins has landed seven of the last 10 editions of the Grade Two feature at Powerstown Park, with Champagne Fever (2014), Kemboy (2018) and Douvan (2019) among those on the roll of honour.

This year the champion trainer saddles two of the of declared runners, with Janidil joined by his long-absent and esteemed stablemate Allaho.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding was spectacular in winning back-to-back renewals of the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, pummelling his rivals by 12 and 14 lengths respectively, before successfully stepping up to three miles with a 14-length demolition job in the 2022 Punchestown Gold Cup.

He has not been seen in competitive action since the latter of those triumphs 19 months ago, but will nevertheless be a short price to dispatch of his three rivals in the hands of Paul Townend.

“Allaho has been fantastic for us, winning a couple of Ryanairs, a Punchestown Gold Cup and a John Durkan. It’s great to see him back and hopefully he can show us that he’s back to his best,” said Cheveley Park Stud director Richard Thompson.

“He’s nine turning 10 in January, he’s been one of the stalwarts from the bunch of jumps horses we bought and hopefully we’ll still have some good days with him.

“He’s been off the track since April 2022, a good year and a half, so it will be fascinating to see him back and we’ll see how he gets on.

“Before he got injured last season we hoped he might be a three-time winner of the Ryanair and hopefully still can be.”

The biggest threat to the Mullins pair is French Dynamite, who bids to provide Mouse Morris with another big-race win following Gentlemansgame’s victory in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby on Saturday.

Morris said: “He’ll probably take the run and it would be hard to think we’ll beat Allaho, but it’s a good place to start and it will put him right for wherever we want to go afterwards.”

John Ryan’s outsider Grange Walk completes the quartet.

Willie Mullins was not ruling out a future bid for Lexus Melbourne Cup glory after watching his favourite Vauban disappoint in the Flemington highlight.

The Irish handler rated Vauban and stablemate Absurde as his best ever chance in the two-mile contest, but while the latter horse performed with credit in seventh, Vauban trailed home 14th in the hands of Ryan Moore.

The five-year-old, who is a multiple Grade One winner over hurdles, carried plenty of confidence into the race having registered a wide-margin win over Absurde at Royal Ascot before following up in a Group Three at Naas in August.

Ryan Moore appeared to have a good position on Vauban but he faded in the straight to be beaten over 13 lengths by winner Without A Fight.

“I thought Vauban was a little disappointing all round. He was beaten too far out for my liking,” Mullins told www.racing.com.

“When I saw him six furlongs out with Ryan having to give him a little niggle, I thought, ‘that’s too far out for him to be niggling him’. He just flattened out and ran very disappointing.

“But there we are. That’s the nature of this game.”

Moore said: “Obviously a disappointing run from him. Maybe he didn’t fire today, the winner was very good, and we didn’t get home today unfortunately.”

Ebor winner Absurde was well supported before the start and posted a fine effort for jockey Zac Purton, hitting the front with two furlongs to run before fading in the closing stages.

Mullins said “I thought Absurde ran a cracker. He was in a position to win at one stage coming up the straight but didn’t see it out.”

Purton added: “He travelled nicely, he presented at the right time, he just didn’t run through the line. Anyway, he ran well, but not what we wanted.”

Vauban has not won over hurdles since the 2022 Punchestown Festival but placed three times at the highest level last term, while Absurde has won one of his two runs over obstacles and Mullins will take stock before deciding on a return to the National Hunt sphere.

He said: “We will bring them back, see how they are. They are dual-purpose horses. If either of them had won they wouldn’t have jumped a hurdle again.”

Mullins has won virtually every major prize in jumps racing but his multiple Australian raids have ended in disappointment, with Max Dynamite his best performer having finished second in 2015 and third in 2017 in the colours of Vauban’s owners Susannah and Rich Ricci.

Despite leaving empty handed again, Mullins would be eager to run if the right candidate comes along.

“It’s a great prize, it’s a great day, great occasion,” he said.

“If we get one good enough, we will try again.”

Willie Mullins-trained duo Vauban and Absurde have fared well in the Lexus Melbourne Cup draw, being allotted stalls three and eight respectively.

Vauban is a firm favourite to win the race that stops a nation at Flemington on Tuesday after this season adding some impressive Flat form to his high-class hurdling exploits.

The five-year-old romped home by seven and a half lengths in the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot before winning the Group Three Ballyroan Stakes at Naas.

Absurde was runner-up to his stablemate at Ascot and has since claimed victory in the Ebor at York.

Mullins finished second in Australia’s biggest race back in 2015 with Max Dynamite and believes he has the ammunition to go one better this time.

Ryan Moore is set to partner Vauban and Mullins said: “I think he’s as good as Max Dynamite and maybe better, we’ll find out that on Tuesday.

“It’s our strongest chance ever, it probably will be my strongest chance ever.

“We wouldn’t want to forget Absurde either, he did it very well with Frankie (Dettori) in the Ebor, Frankie gave him a terrific ride there.

“He has quarantined very well, and I think he’s in great shape.”

Zac Purton has been booked to ride Absurde and Mullins feels he has improved since clashing with Vauban at the Royal meeting.

“I think it’s going to be a different race and I think Absurde is going to be a different horse as well,” added the Irish trainer on racing.com.

“He’s learned to settle a good bit more and now that he’s got a nice draw, I think he’ll be able to put him where he wants him and that’ll make a huge difference.

“There was probably 20 lengths between them passing the winning post the first time around at Royal Ascot, there won’t be that here, I hope.”

Joseph O’Brien has already sent down two previous winners in Rekindling and Twilight Payment and this time relies on Okita Soushi.

He was also a Royal Ascot scorer in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes but struggled in the Caulfield Cup last time out and is an outsider here after being drawn out wide in stall 20.

Defending champion Gold Trip will line up alongside Vauban in stall two, former William Haggas inmate Soulcombe is in four and Caulfield Cup hero Without A Fight, previously trained by Simon and Ed Crisford, has drawn 16.

Melbourne Cup favourite Vauban posted an impressive workout as he enjoyed a first look at Flemington.

Willie Mullins’ charge heads the market for next Tuesday’s feature after recording a seven-and-a-half-length win in the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot in June before booking his ticket to Australia with a cosy victory in the Ballyroan Stakes in August.

A three-times Grade One winner over hurdles, Vauban worked in company with stablemate and fellow Cup contender Absurde at Flemington, pulling away from the Ebor victor in comfortable fashion.

Mullins’ assistant David Casey has been overseeing the pair’s preparations for the Group One handicap and he is more than satisfied with Vauban heading into the two-mile race.

“Everything seems good, we’re having a ball,” Casey told www.racing.com.

“The horse has been very relaxed, taken it all in, done everything we’ve asked, great to get a morning like this morning to come to Flemington and see something different.

“It’s all just a good experience for him for race day.”

Vauban is a best-priced 3-1 with bet365, with Absurde a general 14-1 chance for the Melbourne Cup.

A third Ryanair Chase is the ultimate goal for Allaho, who has been been pencilled in to return in the Clonmel Oil Chase having been given a clean bill of health by Willie Mullins.

The dual Cheltenham Festival winner has not been seen since claiming Punchestown Gold Cup glory in the spring of 2022 with a rare spleen injury keeping him sidelined for the whole 2022-23 campaign.

However, the master of Closutton is happy with where he has the nine-year-old ahead of his slated November 9 return, with sights firmly fixed on a third victory at Prestbury Park in the spring.

“Allaho had a very unusual injury last year, I think it was around this time,” said Mullins.

“He came back from the gallops and he displayed signs of colic and yet we couldn’t find any colic in him. All his vitals were all right but it transpired he had a bleed on his spleen which is very unusual, I’ve never heard of it before in a horse.

“He’s a huge horse, about the biggest in the yard, and one of the things with big horses is they can carry weight easier over longer trips but sometimes it makes it tricky carrying their own weight over their career.

“But he’s in great shape this year and I’m very happy with him and he’ll probably start off in the Clonmel Oil, I think he’s ready for that and hopefully he’ll be back for the Ryanair again if we can.

“People will maybe say the Gold Cup but I think the trip is too long for him. He’s good around Cheltenham over that Ryanair trip.”

It is also set to be business as usual for Galopin Des Champs, whose quest for back-to-back victories in the Cheltenham Gold Cup will begin in Punchestown’s John Durkan Memorial Chase on November 26.

The seven-year-old was an emphatic 13-length winner of the race last season and Mullins has no issue with the race’s new place on the calendar as part of the Kildare track’s two-day Winter Festival.

“I’m happy enough (with him) and I know the John Durkan is a week nearer the start of the season this year which is probably better and I assume we go there,” added Mullins.

“I imagine I will try to do what I did last year with him and keep the same routine. He will set off there and hopefully he will be all right and then Christmas at Leopardstown, then the Dublin Racing Festival and then on to Cheltenham and Punchestown.”

With dual Champion Chase winner Energumene out of action, it could be left to El Fabiolo to try to continue Closutton’s dominance in the two-mile chase division.

First port of call for last year’s impressive Arkle winner is filling Energumene’s shoes in Cork’s Hilly Way Chase before connections plot a course to the Champion Chase in March.

Mullins said: “He’s our replacement at this stage of time for Energumene.

“I think he will start off in the Hilly Way, I think that is the place to go. Then plan a route to Cheltenham.”

Also set to start off over two miles is the gallant front-runner Dysart Dynamo, who could contest Naas’ Barberstown Castle Poplar Square Chase on November 12.

“Dysart Dynamo’s ability seems to be the fact that he can jump and gallop from the start and he probably needs nice ground to do that,” said Mullins.

“I think he is a Poplar Square chaser, start him off at Naas and we will take the two-mile route with him for the rest of the season I think.”

Blue Lord is another who could make his mark in the two-mile division this term, although he will join Allaho at Clonmel to start his campaign.

Mullins went on went on: “Blue Lord is another pencilled in for the Clonmel Oil Chase. He was very impressive at Leopardstown over two miles but we know he stays two and a half. I don’t want to go much further with him I think.

“So he will go down the two to two-and-a-half-mile route. Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase are the type of race we will look at and we will see where he puts himself after a couple of races. We will start off at the Clonmel Oil and then go back to that race at Christmas that he won last season.”

Sir Gerhard will return with chasing on the agenda, however, his handler is willing to make a mid-season switch to the smaller obstacles if things do not go to plan and he could feasibly become a Stayers’ Hurdle contender by the spring.

Mullins explained: “He won well the first day and I think he jumped poorly enough after that. He was just beaten in the WillowWarm Gold Cup at Fairyhouse, he jumped well I think that day and was just beaten.

“We were wondering did he not stay and his pedigree suggests he should stay much further than that. He is horse who I think if I can get his jumping right, then he should stay over fences.

“I’m not sure which trip, at one stage I thought he could be a Champion Hurdle horse when he won his maiden hurdle in Leopardstown and then we went out in trip with him because he didn’t jump well enough. We know he has the ability to jump well when he wants to.

“What we might do is if things don’t go well over fences in the early part of the season, I might switch him to be a staying hurdler. That’s the way I’m looking at him, but I would rather stay over fences if I can get his jumping right.”

Also with a brief hurdling foray looming is Monkfish who seems to be over the worst of his injury worries, with his trainer even speculating a Gold Cup entry could be on the cards.

“I was very happy how he came out of the season with his two runs and he is in great shape on the gallops,” said Mullins.

“I imagine I will start him off over hurdles, just to get a run under his belt and then I would hope to go back chasing, that’s the plan anyhow.

“So far so good and his health problems have been no problem this season. Who knows he may get a Gold Cup entry, if all goes well.”

However, one still very much on the road to recovery is Ferny Hollow, with Mullins envisaging a back-end return if the former Champion Bumper winner is to race this season.

“Ferny is making very slow progress, we were not very happy with him at all last spring and we decided to give him the summer off and reports are a lot better now given more time,” he explained.

“I’m hoping we just give him all the time that he wants, he is too good a horse to put by the wayside at this stage.

“I don’t think we’ll make a plan for him this season, if anything it will be the very end of the season, but I wouldn’t be putting him in any 10 to follow or anything like that.”

Meanwhile, all roads lead back to Aintree for last year’s Grand National third Gaillard Du Mesnil.

“He looks the obvious horse to stay going for the Aintree Grand National,” said Mullins.

“I’m wondering which direction to go with him and I know I want to get a few more runs into him this year.

“Whether I start him off over hurdles or fences, the Aintree National will be the main target and I have no plan made for him at this stage. But he might have three or four runs before the big one.”

Connections of Impaire Et Passe are keen to have a crack at the Champion Hurdle despite the imposing figure of Constitution Hill standing in their way.

Trained by Willie Mullins and owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, Impaire Et Passe looked imperious in winning all four outings last term.

While his six-and-a-half-length victory over stablemate Gaelic Warrior in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle last season was impressive, he is a best-priced 13-2 for the Champion Hurdle, with current title-holder Constitution Hill the general 4-9 favourite after his connections ruled out a chasing switch.

“Impaire Et Passe is staying hurdling. Connections are keen to have a crack at the Champion Hurdle,” said Mullins.

“I’m not sure if that decision was made before the Constitution Hill one or not, but I think he has a fair crack at the Champion Hurdle.

“He won the Ballymore, the only reason he ran in that was because we had Facile Vega in the Supreme, so that is the route he will go down.

“If he improves any little bit – he’ll probably have to improve a fair bit to beat Constitution Hill – but I think he can and that is the decision we’ve made. I think he might start in the Hatton’s Grace.”

Second to Constitution Hill last season was Mullins’ State Man. He won all his other four outings at Grade One level but has nine lengths to find with Nicky Henderson’s supreme talent.

“I think when you can win four Grade Ones in Ireland – every horse is only one gallop away from an injury – it’s all to play for. Constitution Hill has to get there and so do we, so we just felt that he could earn his keep easier over hurdles, that was the main reason (for staying over hurdles),” said Mullins.

“The obvious race is the Morgiana. It’s hard to see him beating Constitution Hill, but I’m hoping he’ll improve.

“The two of them will get entries in both the Morgiana and Hatton’s Grace, the two could run in either, it will depend on who is ready first. Whoever runs in the Morgiana, we might let the other go for the Hatton’s Grace.”

Some bookmakers have Mullins’ Triumph Hurdle winner Lossiemouth in the Champion Hurdle betting but she is likely to stick to her own sex.

“Lossiemouth could go for the Champion Hurdle or the Mares’ Hurdle but it will more than likely be the Mares’ Hurdle,” said Mullins.

“I haven’t decided where I will start her yet as she had a busy enough season last season, she’s only four. We’d probably like to run her at Christmas, Dublin Festival and Cheltenham so whether she runs before Christmas, I’ve not decided and might just keep her fresh.”

Dual Champion Chase hero Energumene is likely to be out for the season, trainer Willie Mullins has revealed.

The nine-year-old, who has won 10 of his 12 appearances over fences, first tasted success at the Cheltenham Festival in 2022 and defended his Champion Chase title in imperious style earlier this year, registering a 10-length victory in the two-mile chasing feature.

He followed that up by also winning Punchestown’s version of the Champion Chase for the second year running and was widely expected to dominate the two-mile division once again over the winter.

However, Energumene – who is owned by Brighton and Hove Albion supremo Tony Bloom – is set for a spell on the sidelines having suffered an injury setback and is unlikely to get the chance to make it a hat-trick of Cheltenham Festival victories in the spring.

“Unfortunately Energumene has a hind leg injury and he will probably be out of action for the season,” Mullins told the Sporting Life.

Energumene’s absence opens up a vacancy at the top of the two-mile chasing division with Closutton stablemate and Arkle hero El Fabiolo installed as Paddy Power’s new even-money favourite for the Champion Chase next March.

Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon, second to El Fabiolo at Prestbury Park in the Arkle earlier in the year before winning at both Aintree and Sandown’s Celebration Chase, is next best at 5-1.

Ante-post favourite Vauban has been given a weight of 55 kilograms for the Lexus Melbourne Cup.

Willie Mullins’ charge, who won the 2022 Triumph Hurdle, heads the market for the November 7 contest after winning each of his two starts on the level this term – chalking up a seven-and-a-half-length verdict in the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot before landing the Group Three Ballyroan Stakes in fine style last time.

The five-year-old’s weight, which equates to around 8st 9lb, has him 3.5kg behind last year’s winner and top weight Gold Trip.

Mullins has a second string to his bow in Absurde, who is guaranteed a start in the Group One contest after winning the Ebor under a fine Frankie Dettori ride at York last month.

He finished second to Vauban at Ascot and has been given 53kg for the Flemington showpiece, while Aidan O’Brien’s Broome, winner of the Dubai Gold Cup back in March, has 56.5kg.

O’Brien also has St Leger fourth Tower Of London on 50.5kg, with son Joseph – already a dual winner of the race with Rekindling (2017) and Twilight Payment (2020) – having Valiant King (50kg) and Okita Soushi (51.5kg) in the field.

The William Haggas-trained Desert King, who finished a gallant third for the King and Queen in Saturday’s St Leger, has been given 51.5kg.

Fellow Newmarket-trained runner West Wind Blows is on 54kg for Simon and Ed Crisford, with the four-year-old already in Australia ahead of a possible run in the Turnbull Stakes on October 7.

Dermot Weld, who broke new ground when sending Vintage Crop to become the first northern hemisphere-trained winner of the race in 1993 before adding another victory nine years later with Media Puzzle, has Harbour Wind in contention this year but his weight of 50kg leaves him well down the field, which has a limit of 24 runners.

Other familiar names in the field include ex-Haggas runners Alenquer (56.5kg) and Soulcombe (53.5kg), last year’s second Emissary (52kg) plus Francesco Guardi (54kg) and El Bodegon (55.5kg), who were both previously trained by James Ferguson, and last year’s Irish Oaks victor Magical Lagoon (51kg).

Racing Victoria’s head of handicapping David Hegan said: “Gold Trip is the standout performer among the entries for both Cups (Melbourne and Caulfield) and the natural topweight with Broome the only Group One winner among an international contingent that boasts an assortment of rapidly emerging stayers.

“We have effectively lifted Gold Trip 2kg from his true weight last year, which is less than the penalty afforded other Melbourne Cup winners in recent times, however we are mindful that it is 48 years since a horse has carried 58.5kg to victory in either Cup so a significant challenge awaits.”

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