Noble Yeats to bid for Gold Cup-Grand National double

Last Updated 21 Feb 2023 | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering

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Ambitious Irish trainer Emmet Mullins has his eye on a famous Gold Cup-Grand National double with reigning Aintree hero Noble Yeats.

Mullins pulled off a fine training feat last spring as Noble Yeats was partnered to Aintree glory by retiring amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen in the colours of his father Robert Waley-Cohen.

Now plans are afoot to get back to Aintree this spring for a repeat effort, but before that a run in Cheltenham’s marquee event is planned, with a possible Irish date before then.

Avoiding the big guns at home scuppered by admin

Mullins was targeting the Fleur De Lys Chase at the Winter Million meeting on Sunday at Lingfield in what he admits was something of an attempt to sidestep the might of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott closer to home.

It was revealed on Tuesday that he will not be able to line up as the horse’s vaccination record is not compliant with the Rules of Racing.

In what looks to be a clerical error, a BHA spokesman confirmed: “Vaccinations must have been administered, uploaded to the Weatherbys App and verified by a veterinary surgeon before the close of entries to avoid a horse being non-qualified. In the case of Noble Yeats, this process was not completed in time, meaning the horse is not qualified to run.

“This change to the Rules of Racing came into effect this month.”

Noble Yeats was pulled up on his seasonal debut at Auteuil in October, but convincing wins in Wexford’s Listed M.W. Hickey Memorial Chase and, in particular, Aintree’s Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase since put him right back on track.

It remains to be seen if Mullins now finds a target in Ireland or Britain for his charge before mid-March.

Going for Gold in the plan

If that goes well, Noble Yeats may well be aiming to emulate Golden Miller and L’Escargot as the only two horses to have won both the Gold Cup and the Grand National.

Mullins says the Blue Riband race in the Cotswolds is a proper stamina test and, therefore, one sure to suit his stable star.

“The Gold Cup was on the radar for this year from the get-go. It was definitely on the agenda. We spoke with the Waley-Cohens and all going well he was going to be aimed for the Gold Cup and try to come back for the Grand National afterwards,” Mullins said.

“I definitely wouldn’t rule him out of the Gold Cup. It’s a stayer’s race and I can compare him to something like Hedgehunter, who won the Grand National and was second in a Gold Cup afterwards. I think he can be there or thereabouts.”

Aintree the ultimate aim

Of course, the Grand National in April is top of the agenda. Tiger Roll in 2018 and 2019 became the first horse since Red Rum in the 1970s to mount a successful defence and, having been shown that it can be done, Mullins is eager to try and repeat the feat of Elliott’s charge.

Mullins, based near his uncle Willie in Co Carlow, admits he wasn’t quite aware of the scale of challenge presented in winning a Grand National and a Gold Cup – something not even the Closutton maestro has attempted to pull off just yet – but he won’t be allowing that to put him off.

“We’re still heading for the National and I suppose after our performance in the Many Clouds in Aintree, we won’t be looked after too well in the weights, but I think a horse like him grows in that scenario and I can’t see any reason why we shouldn’t fancy our chances going back again,” he added.

“I hadn’t realised until I heard [recently] that only two horses have won the Gold Cup and the Grand National. I suppose it adds to it, but I’ll be blocking that out anyway.

“Lucky for me and the horse it won’t register with us!”

Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is a racing writer with a growing portfolio of work on both British and Irish racing, with a particular fondness for National Hunt racing. While he acknowledges there have been many great runners; there has only ever been one Denman.

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