Nicky Henderson must once again face the might of Willie Mullins as he bids to win the Together For Racing International Cesarewitch for a third time at Newmarket.
It is 13 years since the master of Seven Barrows last claimed Saturday’s prestigious staying handicap, with the popular veteran Caracciola, having previously struck gold with Landing Light in 2003.
Since then Mullins has not only overtaken Henderson as the most successful trainer in the history of the Cheltenham Festival, but he has also landed the last three runnings of the Cesarewitch – and he fires a six-pronged assault this time as he seeks to make it four in a row.
“Willie runs six, does he? Tell him he ought to work out which one (he wants to run)!,” Henderson quipped.
While Mullins possesses a formidable hand, Henderson is happy with his sole contender.
Buzz has not run on the Flat since his days with Hughie Morrison more than two years ago, but he has since won three times over hurdles and was last seen filling the runner-up spot behind Abacadabras in the Grade One Aintree Hurdle in April.
Henderson said: “He’s got the right profile for the race and he’s in good form.
“He proved he stays very well over hurdles. This is a lot further than he’s ever been before on the Flat, but we upped him to two-and-a-half at Aintree, and he stayed that very well.
“He’s had a summer break, and this is his first run back. But he is quite a busy horse, so I hope he’s ready.”
Henderson’s one concern is the drying ground at Headquarters, adding: “I would very much like some juice in the ground.
“We discussed it (running in the Cesarewitch) through the summer, and we were just praying the ground came to rescue us – which it did a bit – but I don’t like the way it’s drying out.”
The shortest-priced Mullins-trained runner is M C Muldoon, who was touched off by Reshoun in the Ascot Stakes earlier in the year and has since won over hurdles at Galway.
“M C Muldoon ran a great race at Royal Ascot. He has been coming along all the time,” said Mullins.
“I think he is getting stronger all the time and getting better at racing. It has taken a while for the penny to drop, but I think it will hopefully reflect well in the Cesarewitch.”
Also in the Mullins team, Burning Victory has won her last two starts on the Flat in France – while last year’s Cesarewitch heroine Great White Shark is back to defend her crown.
Whiskey Sour, Foveros and Micro Manage complete the Closutton sextet.
Mullins added: “It has been a nice preparation for Burning Victory, taking in the races in France. I think a bit of rain would help her. It is good to soft at the moment, which is fine. As long as it is safe ground it will be fine.
“Great White Shark is up against it off her new rating, and not having run since Cheltenham. We thought she had a good chance last year, but it is very hard to predict you are going to win a race like the Cesarewitch in the manner that she did.
“Whiskey Sour is a lighter-framed horse and is easier to get ready than some. He is not as big a unit as Great White Shark so he is easier to get in shape from a lay-off, and that is the plus side to him.
“I’ve not used (jockey) Ray (Dawson) much before. He can do the weight on Foveros and he is riding well at the moment, so hopefully things can go well for him.
“I’m hoping that Micro Manage has still got plenty of improvement in him, because he does some tremendous work at home. I just need to get him to do that on the racetrack.”
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