Mighty Potter bids to bounce back from an odds-on reverse at the Cheltenham Festival in the WilllowWarm Gold Cup at Fairyhouse.
The dual Grade One-winning hurdler was hugely impressive in winning his first three starts over fences including a top-level triumph in the Drinmore Novice Chase over this course and distance in December.
After following up at the Dublin Racing Festival, Mighty Potter was a 4-6 shot for last month’s Turners’ Novices’ Chase, but hung under pressure and passed the post in third behind Stage Star.
Connections believe they have a valid excuse for that reverse, though, and are hopeful he can show his true colours.
Joey Logan, racing manager for owners Caldwell Construction Ltd, said: “He lost a shoe in Cheltenham and was very sore after the race.
“He veered right coming up the straight and was still only beaten four lengths.
“He worked the other day and we’re very happy with him. He’s in great form and we think we have him back to his best.”
Willie Mullins has claimed this prize in each of the past four years, with his two subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup heroes Al Boum Photo (2018) and Galopin Des Champs (2022) on the roll of honour.
His chief hope this weekend appears to be Appreciate It, who was half a length behind Mighty Potter at Cheltenham, having previously placed third in the Irish Arkle.
“Appreciate It has been a little disappointing the last twice, but perhaps the way the race worked out in Cheltenham didn’t see him to his best,” said Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father.
“I’d imagine we’ll ride him a bit differently this time and we’re hoping on Sunday he’ll start to show what we think of him.”
Appreciate It, the chosen mount of Paul Townend, is joined by five stablemates in Adamantly Chosen (Brian Hayes), Authorized Art (Danny Mullins), Flame Bearer (Sean O’Keeffe), James Du Berlais (Daryl Jacob) and Sir Gerhard.
The latter disappointed in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham and while looking forward to being on board this weekend, Mullins junior admits to have concerns about the track.
He added: “Flame Bearer is starting to get the hang of things and won at this meeting last year as a novice hurdler, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run well.
“With Sir Gerhard, the last two years going right-handed in Punchestown he’s disappointed after Cheltenham, so that is probably a concern here.
“Having said that, it’s a Grade One over his distance and he has to take his chance and hopefully with that experience from Cheltenham under his belt he can fence better and run better.”