Patrick Mullins is relishing the opportunity to get back on board Cheltenham hero Facile Vega on day two of the Punchestown Festival.
A son of Walk In The Park out of the brilliant racemare Quevega, the five-year-old has so far lived up to his regal breeding with three dominant victories.
Quevega famously won the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on six occasions and Facile Vega got his name on the winner’s board in the Cotswolds when powering up the hill in the Champion Bumper last month.
The five-year-old will be a warm order to stretch his unbeaten record to four in the Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion I.N.H. Flat Race.
“All our good horses go to Punchestown, so this has been the plan,” said his rider.
“The Champion Bumper at Punchestown is worth more than the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham so it would be madness not to go for it
“He has come out of the race bucking and squealing and David Porter is very happy with him. Better ground shouldn’t inconvenience him and obviously his dam used to go from Cheltenham to Punchestown, so hopefully it won’t be any problem for him.”
Facile Vega is joined by two stablemates who finished behind him at Cheltenham in Madmansgame and Redemption Day, while Mullins also saddles Seabank Bistro and Viva Devito.
The obvious threat is Gordon Elliott’s Cheltenham runner-up American Mike.
Mullins junior added: “Redemption Day didn’t handle the ground in Cheltenham. He’s a small, slight, quick horse who just got bogged down. I’d forgive him that run.
“Seabank Bistro might not be as effective on good ground. He’s a bigger, heavier type of horse, but it’s only a guess as he’s never run on good ground.
“We have an armada of good bumper horses. It’s a good crop going into next year.”
The first of three Grade Ones on the afternoon is the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle, which stages a rematch between stable companions The Nice Guy and Minella Cocooner.
The Mullins-trained pair finished first and second respectively in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham and are two of four runners for the champion trainer along with Bronn and Ramillies.
Elliott sends both Minella Crooner and Hollow Games, while Henry de Bromhead runs Journey With Me, who fell at the final flight when booked for a place in the Ballymore at Cheltenham last month.
Elliott said: “It was disappointing that Minella Crooner missed Cheltenham but it was just a minor issue and he didn’t miss much time, he just ran out of time before Cheltenham.
“He’s in good nick and it’s good to have him going there on Wednesday. Hopefully he runs his race.”