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Forgotten Willie Mullins’ horse makes startling return after 1,459 days off track

, Forgotten Willie Mullins’ horse makes startling return after 1,459 days off track

ALL eyes were on the winner of Roscommon’s big race on Tuesday night – but punters also noticed a potential diamond in the rough.

Because a Willie Mullins-trained horse – who had been off the track for an incredible 1,459 DAYS – caught plenty of eyes in third place behind the exciting Espionage.

Punters reckon Willie Mullins could be celebrating some big wins with his horse Jackfinbar

Jackfinbar, now an eight-year-old, was making his debut for the top jumps trainer in the Listed Lenebane Stakes.

The horse was previously trained by Harry Dunlop in Lambourn but was transferred to Mullins’ Closutton yard after Dunlop quit the training ranks at the end of the 2022 Flat season.

The gelding has low mileage for his age and was a Group 3 winner in France in 2018, and before this week he hadn’t been seen since finishing last of five in the Coral Marathon at Sandown four years ago.

So Mullins, who is also capable of firing in big winners on the Flat as he showed with Vauban at Royal Ascot, will have been very encouraged by this performance.

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Aidan O’Brien’s talented and beautifully-bred three-year-old Espionage didn’t have to engage top gear to win the race under Ryan Moore.

But Jackfinbar, whose rating of 97 will no doubt shoot up after this effort, finished the race strongly from off the pace having been denied a clear run in the straight.

The performance probably deserves upgrading given his tough trip through the race, and given he was conceding the younger horses almost a stone in weight.

Now that Mullins knows the horse still retains lots of ability it opens plenty of doors for the rest of the season.

The obvious target, given the horse’s abundant stamina, would be the £500,000 Ebor Handicap at York on August 26, and he was introduced into the betting at 20-1 with Sky Bet on Wednesday morning.

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Mullins won’t be in a rush to run him again given his long lay-off, so the seven-week break between now and the Ebor Festival is ideal.

And we know that the legendary trainer has come agonisingly close in the past to winning the Melbourne Cup – when Max Dynamite was beaten half a length into second under Frankie Dettori in 2015.

Vauban has already been earmarked for that race in November, but don’t be surprised if Jackfinbar joins him on the plane Down Under, for all he will probably need to run a big race at York next month to earn his place in the line-up.

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