The Young Master came off second best to Saphir Du Rheu at Carlisle on Sunday, but Neil Mulholland will be far from downbeat, especially after notching up an impressive winner at Wetherby 24 hours earlier.
Southfield Royale looks a novice chaser with a bright future, having romped to a comfortable victory in the three mile novice chase. Only his second effort over fences, he clearly appreciated the step up in trip. Often jumping slightly out to his left, he was nevertheless accurate at his obstacles and is clearly a horse capable of making a big impact this winter.
Mulholland will still be hopeful that The Young Master can win his fair share of races. His current handicap mark looks a workable one, and it would be no surprise to see him land a decent handicap in the coming months.
The trainer has a number of useful chasers in his care, none more so than Grand National hopeful The Druids Nephew. The eight-year-old was slightly disappointing over hurdles at the weekend, but prior to that had fallen in the Aintree showpiece back in April, when holding every chance late into the race. He’s likely to head for the Hennessy later this month, having finished seventh in last year’s renewal.
The young trainer is building quite a team at his Conkwell Grange Stables, based just east of Bath. Very much a journeyman jockey, he rode for numerous trainers, gathering a wealth of experience along the way. Mulholland turned to training in 2008, and started putting all those years of experience in to practice. Last season yielded 63 winners, a cracking total for a yard progressing at a rate on knots.
With more than 80 horses in training, the yard continues to develop, and a few new additions have already made an impact. Fox Norton is one in particular who must be exciting his new trainer. Formerly with Nick Williams, the youngster was a promising juvenile hurdler, but always had the look of a chaser. Two from two over fences, his last run at Market Rasen gives hope to an exciting season ahead. He gave a stone and a beating to Phillip Hobbs’ Golden Doyen, who himself looks a novice chaser with a bright future.
Along with an army of chasers, Mulholland may well have a hurdler worth following. Shantou Village was a stunning winner of a novice hurdle at Carlisle during October. Back in March the five-year-old was an impressive winner of a bumper at Wetherby. He looks a talented recruit and has the potential to take high order this winter.
Currently one of the best young trainers around, I’d expect another exciting campaign from the man from Bath.