Source: RPWeekender via Twitter
After the action of Cheltenham Festival, the eyes of the National Hunt will turn to the Grand National at Aintree in April. There are a number of horses competing at the Festival that will also be going for the triumph at the prestigious meet. However, one of those that has been kept away from the fray is Total Recall, who will be vying for the crown.
Willie Mullins’ charge is the leading candidate for the National given his form over the course of the season. Mullins has enjoyed success at Cheltenham Festival 2018, and a winner at Aintree would cap an impressive season. The trainer has only triumphed once in the meet, which came in 2005 when Ruby Walsh rode Hedgehunter to victory.
Total Recall has the ability to end Mullins’ drought at the event due to his form since passing into the hands of the trainer. The Irish horse was under the charge of Sandra Hughes before his move, which last season saw him put in underwhelming performances. At the Leopardstown Handicap Chase he finished 11th, struggling to find rhythm on the course. He fared slightly better in a Novice Handicap Chase in Naas, although was still off the pace in fifth.
Despite the bay gelding’s issues, Mullins had little problem finding his form for the start of the current campaign. A switch from two mile to three-mile races brought out the best in the Irish horse, which saw him considered the favourite for the Munster National Handicap Chase. With Ruby Walsh riding, he was able to come through a talented field with a surge down the stretch to claim the victory at Limerick, finishing seven lengths ahead of his nearest rival.
Total Recall gave his strongest indication that he was a horse to be reckoned with for the National at Newbury in December in the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase. With Walsh out of action, Paul Townend took the reins for the meet, with the nine-year-old considered the leading contender for the victory. He faced off against a talented field, including Whisper. It was those two horses that battled for the victory down the stretch after he made his charge through the pack two fences out. The Irish horse just had enough to see off his rival, triumphing by the smallest of margins.
He continued that level of performance in his next outing in February at the William Fry Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown. Mullins’ charge was expected to triumph and Townend once again ensured that Total Recall took his place in the winners’ enclosure, timing his move to perfection to pull away from the rest of the field. The nine-year-old closed out the win ahead of Oscar Knight by three lengths, reeling off his third triumph on the bounce.
Total Recall has the momentum ahead of the contest, but does not have experience at Aintree. That could be a crucial factor in deciding the race, while Mullins may opt to put Walsh in the saddle over Townend, despite the latter’s familiarity with the bay gelding. There are questions to answer at the National, but so far in his career with Mullins, the Irish horse has answered all of them with success.