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Black Hercules: We are very happy with him

Willie Mullins has often elected to use point-to-pointing and hunter chases as an option for some of his former stars at the end of their racing careers, with the likes of On His Own, Prince De Beauchene, Quel Esprit and Marasonnien all enjoying success for the Closutton operator in this sphere in the latter years of their competitive careers.

This season will once again feature a number of star names, with Black Hercules chief amongst them. Now a ten-year-old, the Heron Island gelding, who enjoyed Cheltenham Festival success in the 2016 JLT Novices’ Chase, is nearing in on his open debut, and holds an entry at Tinahely on Sunday.. 

“We are very happy with him. He obviously hasn’t ran for a long time, he is very fragile. We are just minding him and hopefully we won’t have to train him as hard to be a hunter chaser which might help him to stay in one piece,” said Patrick Mullins, in whose colours Black Hercules won a four-year-old maiden at Dromahane at the start of his career.

“Graham Wylie has given him to me as I sold him to Graham originally after he won in Dromahane. A group of my friends from school, there is about 20 of us, have syndicated him, and it would be great if we could have a bit of fun with him and have a few nice days out with him.

“If at all possible, I will ride him, but if I can’t ride him because of track commitments, we’ll probably get Richie Deegan to sit on him.

“It looks unlikely at the moment that he will run in Tinahely, because I think that I am going to be in Cork on Sunday, so it just depends on where I am going to be riding on the track. If he doesn’t run at Tinahely on Sunday, he will go to Boulta the week after.”

The Mullins team of hunter chasers for this season also includes well-known names such as Urano and Le Mercury.

The latter is a new recruit to the yard having joined them from Paul Nicholls, where he was last seen finishing twelfth in the 2017 Aintree Grand National that was won by One For Arthur. The former dual Grade 2 winner will now carry the colours of Patrick's mother Jackie.

“Le Mercury will follow a similar path. We will try run him in a point-to-point and try have him ready for the nice hunter chases in the spring.

“He is another horse that is very fragile and hard to train,” added Mullins.

Now an 11-year-old, Urano returned from three years on the sidelines when finishing fifth to Better B Quick at Tinahely last month.

“He hadn’t ran in a long time before he ran at Tinahely, so he was entitled to get tired. He will wait until Aubrey McMahon is back from injury. Aubrey got a fall and pulled some ligaments on his knee. I think he could run again next month when Aubrey is back in the saddle,” said Mullins of the former Listed Chase winner.

Billaway is the Mullins’ most recent hunter chase winner following his success at Downpatrick in March and he is also nearing in on a return to action.

“He won a hunter chase for us last year and we will have him out as well soon and we have a great team of hunter chasers this year.”

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