By Michael O’Leary
In the only race meeting to have taken place in Europe, and indeed one of the few sporting events to have happened throughout the world on Saturday, the Mullins cousins David and Emmet combined to win the feature event in Thurles, the Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Steeplechase with Zero Ten.
Returning a strongly fancied 2nd favorite at 3/1, Zero Ten was positioned prominently throughout, and turning into the home straight, he started to assert himself with race favorite Sizing Pottsie going in pursuit of the leader.
However, Jessica Harrington’s charge came to grief at the penultimate fence bringing down the Gordon Elliott trained Dallas Des Pictons , and that left the Willie Mullins (Uncle of David and Emmet) trained Cut the Mustard – with Paul Townend on board – as Zero Ten’s nearest rival.
The winner had a length to spare approaching the final fence, and appeared to be going best of all when Cut the Mustard crashed out.
As a result his task was made easier, and he strolled home to a convincing 14-length success from the Pat Fahy trained Dunvegan.
A talented gelding who has had his share of injury problems, Zero Ten won for the 6th time under National Hunt rules having won twice previously at the last two Galway Summer Festivals, while also winning the Connolly’s Red Mills Auction Race at last years Punchestown Festival.
It’s been a very profitable last 8 months for Emmet who trains alongside his Uncle Willie in Closutton as apart from Zero Ten, Fujimoto Flyer tasted big race success in Auteuil in France while also winning at the Killarney Festival in August, while Rocket Lad was a well backed winner of the concluding Bumper, the final race of last Summer’s Galway Festival.
For David who won the Aintree Grand National aboard Rule the World back in 2016, it was a most cherised victory, as it was in Thurles back in late October where he suffered a very serious injury following a nasty fall that ruled him out for 4 months up until just a month ago.
The Thurles Racemeeting took centre stage as it was shown live on ITV4 and Virgin Media Two, with Horse Racing in the UK suspended until late April at the earliest which includes the postponement of this years Grand National meeting.