Total Recall in control for Westerner
The Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall (8g Westerner-Augest Weekend, by Dr Massini) looked a potential Gold Cup candidate after battling to a brilliant victory in the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury on Saturday.
The Westerner gelding, bred by John Connolly, became the first Irish-trained horse since Bright Highway in 1980 to land Newbury’s famous showpiece event, formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup.
Always travelling well in mid-division, Paul Townend delivered his charge three out and looked set to go right away in the three and a quarter-mile handicap chase, eventually seeing off a determined rival in Whisper.
"I think a lot of the credit must go to Sandra Hughes, who used her father's methods and progressed very slowly with this horse. Sandra retired and we have just got the benefit of it,” said Mullins.
"I thought Paul was fantastic, he was very cool. I thought he was beaten going to the last but he switched sides and got a different run on the other side. He has always been a good jockey and I am lucky to have him.”
Total Recall is now a 20/1 chance with Ladbrokes for the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup and looking to the future, Mullins said: "We will look at more handicaps and he will be entered in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Gold Cup will have closed before he runs again so he will have an entry."
The eight-year-old justified 9/2 favouritism for the 20-runner event and Townend added: “It was a big step up from the race at Limerick and we didn't know how quickly he was improving. You need a lot of luck in a big handicap and it's hard to be confident but I knew that I had a willing partner under me and was going to give it my best shot.
"I got a great run around and a great ride off Total Recall. He winged the last ditch and landed me there. We missed the second last a bit but I knew, when I got stuck into him, he was going to pull out. Thankfully, he did before the line.”