Danny Mullins took full advantage as Paul Townend chose the wrong Willie Mullins runner in the Markaye Contracts Ltd Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle at Thurles.
Five O'Clock jumps strongly to secure the Grade 3 Markaye Contracts Ltd Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle in strong style for @WillieMullinsNH, who lands a double.— Thurles Racecourse (@thurlesraces) February 20, 2020
The Grade 3 has thrown up plenty of smart types down the years, with the likes of Hidden Cyclone and Sub Lieutenant winning, while subsequent Grade 1 winners Road To Respect and Notebook have also taken part.
Townend preferred the claims of Drury to Five O’Clock, but that proved the incorrect call as Drury failed to figure in the finish, crossing the line in fifth.
Mouse Morris’ French Dynamite, winner of three of his four previous races to date, tried to make all and still held a small advantage jumping the second-last before he gave way.
Mullins brought Five O’Clock (7/1) widest of all and he swept by Front View and Assemble to win by six lengths.
“I was surprised Paul didn’t ride him. I think Paul was disappointed he didn’t win better the last day, but to me it was over the wrong trip and on a tight track and he didn’t get to show himself off. For once it wasn’t my decision!” said the champion trainer.
“He is a horse I think a lot of – he wasn’t impressive the last day because it was over the wrong trip and it was on the inside track at Limerick. Really he wants a galloping track and trip, and we’ll look for that type of race over two-mile-five-plus.
“He is an out-and-out three-mile chaser down the line and we’ll see how he comes out of it, but we might be looking at races nearer home than Cheltenham.”
Townend did earlier ride the mare Salsaretta (1/5 favourite) to an easy victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Chase.
“We’ll try to keep her to that type of trip and that type of ground,” said Mullins. “We will look at the Grade 2 mares’ novice chase at Limerick on March 15th, although we have Elimay for that race too so we’ll see. That is probably where we’ll aim for.”