Every year I make lists. Lists of horses that look promising, lists of horses that produce fast times, horses who jump well, horses who travel strongly and horses who Iook like they need more time. Once we get to mid-June these lists start to be condensed into horses that have been sold, horses that have appeared on the HRI weekly update or who have now been registered in training by the BHA, horses who have appeared in the Jour de Galop updates or who are marked as “sortie en vue d’exportation” with France Galop. It’s not an easy task. With so many private sales going on and the different rules for registrations in different countries, the lack of information is some times startling. At the time of writing the most promising bumper horse that I have seen in France this season is Impose Toi, I know he has been sold because France Galop states that, but I can’t find him. It’s a needle in a haystack at times but there is one name that seems to be the starting point and is certainly the best “median” for an investigation. Willie Mullins.
Around 1 in 3 of the horses on my final list have his name next to them. He seems to recruit better horses every year and with so many connections in France, there don’t seem to be too many nice prospects that he isn’t linked with. It doesn’t always guarantee success. As with any young horse, they can change and develop at different times and for every Vauban or State Man, there are plenty who don’t make the grade. As I mentioned in the opening part, time is the key to French breds. Understanding how they have developed and how they have been schooled is so important and there is nobody better than Willie Mullins on that front. So here is the first of “Willies Horses” that will appear in this series.
MISTER POLICEMAN (Willie Mullins)
When I first read that he had been sold, I was sceptical. The form of his Fontainebleau win in March looked pretty average. It was a Class 4 contest and those in behind hadn’t set the world alight in their subsequent efforts, albeit that the 2nd placed Mon Vieux hasn’t run since. His debut effort had come 3 weeks earlier when he finished 4ht to Ivaldi, who we will come to later in this series and he clearly improved for the benefit of that run. He produced a final circuit time 7s quicker on his 2nd start in a race that was run at a similar early tempo and his jumping looked far more assured, especially in the home straight.
His page doesn’t overly enthuse. He is a son of Triple Threat out of a Pivotal mare who won a bumper in the French provinces at Savenay. There a couple of winners in the immediate family but nothing of any note and he really doesn’t leap off the page as a potential hurdling superstar, but there is something there that keeps me coming back to him. Having watched his win a couple of times he does have a presence about him and he travelled into it like a dream before kicking away with a devastating turn of foot. He ran from the back of the last flight to the line in 14.56s, easily the fastest finishing sectional of the day. It’s sometimes easy to get carried away with the visuals of the racing at Fontainebleau, where the figure of 8 configuration of the hurdles track often means that races don’t develop until the field turns into the home straight, so I am cautious, but that turn of foot has lured me in somewhat.
Sold in the Auctav March sale for €120,000, he was acquired by Pierre Boulard to be trained in Ireland by Mullins. He told Jour de Galop “We liked the way he won, he really accelerated after the last, it is the ultimate weapon in hurdles races. Certainly he has a flat pedigree, but he has an action that is designed for jumping. He looks good value for money”.
I’m yet to be entirely convinced that he is Grade 1 type, but given his turn of foot, sound jumping and strong traveling nature, there ought to be a big pot in him somewhere along the line. After just 2 starts there is a lot more improvement to come and if anyone can bring that out of him, it will be Mr Mullins Esq.