Punchestown a possible port of call for Mrs Milner

Mrs Milner could bid for Grade One glory at Punchestown and make up for an unlucky run at Cheltenham.

The seven-year-old, trained by Paul Nolan, was creeping into contention when she was badly hampered when two horses came down at the second last.

Though she finished with a flourish, her winning chance had gone and she had to settle for third place behind Marie’s Rock in the Grade One Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.

“She was very unlucky. She was very badly hampered at the second last. I thought she was coming with a lovely run and she stays. There’s no reason to say she wouldn’t have been fighting out the finish,” said Nolan.

“I think she’d have given it a very good go and it was just very unfortunate the two she was tracking, one fell and brought down the other. It was a miracle she didn’t get brought down.”

Nolan is likely to keep her to own sex in the Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival next month.

“I don’t like to run them too soon. We’ve been patient with her this year, that was only her third run, so we’ll aim for Punchestown now and hopefully she’ll have plenty of time to recover,” said the County Wexford handler.

“I can’t see the point of taking on Flooring Porter. We’ll try to keep her to her own sex if we can.”

Nolan was delighted with the run of HMS Seahorse to finish fourth in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle after being compromised by the false start.

“He ran a cracker of a race. The false start didn’t help. He was pushed wide all the way,” he said.

“He came out of the race well, so there’s no reason why we won’t rock on with him. We’ll take a look at the Flat as well. He’s still a maiden on the Flat. He’ll handle better ground as well, so we’ll use him as a dual-purpose horse. We’ll take a look at Punchestown as well.

The big disappointment of the meeting for Nolan was his only other runner of the week, Joyeux Machin. He expected a big run in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper as the five-year-old had showed plenty of promise in his two runs under rules.

After finishing six lengths runner-up to the subsequent Bumper winner Facile Vega on his rules debut at Leopardstown in December, Joyeux Machin comfortably defeated 14 rivals at Navan.

“I was very confident he was going to run a cracker of a race. We had no excuses and I couldn’t see him out of the first five but he was beat after a furlong,” said Nolan.

“He had won on soft ground in Navan but Cheltenham was as close as unraceable as you’d get. I’ll just draw a line through it.

“We’ll give them all a week off and then see how they are and make plans from there. So far the horses have come out of it fine.”

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