Noble Yeats team planning another Aintree effort
2023 Leopardstown Christmas Festival – Wednesday, Leopardstown Racecourse, Dublin 27/12/2023 Danny Mullins on Meetingofthewaters celebrates winning The Paddy Power Steeplechase Extended Handicap Steeplechase
The team that helped make Noble Yeats the first seven-year-old Aintree Grand National winner in more than eight decades are planning for another audacious Merseyside challenge with Meetingofthewaters.
As Noble Yeats did in 2022, Meetingofthewaters is set to contest the Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby this weekend and the Grand National at Aintree in April – via the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Owner Paul Byrne famously came up with the masterplan to win the National with a seven-year-old novice as he teamed up with trainer Emmet Mullins, though Noble Yeats had been sold to Robert Waley-Cohen by the time he got to Aintree and won as a seven-year-old – the first since Bogskar in 1940.
Now Byrne is lining up Meetingofthewaters for a similarly daring road to Aintree off the back of his second success over fences at Leopardstown during their Christmas Festival.
Striking similarities between the duo
Meetingofthewaters is following a pathway that Noble Yeats trod before him. They both made their chase debuts in the same beginners’ event at Galway and both then ran at Cork over intermediate trips before tackling the three-mile Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Noble Yeats was no better than ninth in that ?200,000 festive contest, but Meetingofthewaters gave his connections a surprise by scoring in the hands of Danny Mullins.
Noble Yeats had further runs at Naas, Wetherby and the Cheltenham Festival before his Aintree glory, and Meetingofthewaters is set to head to Yorkshire next.
He is trained by Willie Mullins and his son and assistant trainer, Patrick, has been outlining plans.
“The plan at the moment is to run at Wetherby, all being well,” he said.
“He’s definitely an exciting horse, he has a nice profile and if he can run well here and at Cheltenham he probably deserves to take his chance at Aintree. But we’ll plan for Cheltenham first and see after that.”
National Hunt Chase the Festival target now
Mullins admits it was a very pleasant surprise that Meetingofthewaters managed to go and win on handicap chase bow at Christmas.
That success has altered plans for the Cotswolds in March, with the seven-year-old now officially rated 147 in Britain, too high in the ratings for the 0-145 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.
“I was hoping he’d be a Kim Muir horse, he looked made for the race, but it looks now like we might have to go for the National Hunt Chase,” Mullins added, before conceding he’s got his eye on getting back on board having partner Meetingofthewaters in his first two chase starts at Galway.
“I’d love to get back on him, I bought him in the summer and do a good bit on him at home, but we’ll see. The fact he has a lot of handicap experience [over hurdles] is always a big help in the National Hunt Chase.”
Early gains a surprise and testament to solid foundations
Expanding on the fact Meetingofthewaters was able to take out that valuable Leopardstown prize on his handicap chase bow, Mullins feels that his grounding in the hands of Eugene O’Sullivan as a point-to-point horse is clearly standing well to the now seven-year-old.
“His win at Leopardstown was a pleasant surprise, being only his fourth run over fences and his first handicap, we thought that might catch him out.
“We were hoping that would give him the experience he needed for something like the Kim Muir, but Eugene O’Sullivan had done a fantastic job – he had him as a point-to-pointer – and his jumping really stood up to the test, so he’s a testament to Eugene.”
Meetingofthewaters can be backed at 33/1 for Grand National Glory at Aintree on Saturday April 13th.
Connections will be eager to see what he can do at Wetherby before the Grand National weights are published on February 20th. Following that announcement, a big run at Cheltenham in March will almost certainly have plenty attention focused on Meetingofthewaters given his illustrious connections.