The Willie Mullins trained Wicklow Brave is a real people’s favourite. And when you look at his record and versatility, it is easy to see why. The 10-year-old added another string to his bow this week, by winning a novice chase at the first time of asking. That win means he now has won in every discipline. That includes the flat, national hunt flat, hurdles, and fences, with success at the highest level in two of those disciplines.
He won over fences at Ballinrobe recently, where he jumped well and eased away from the field. That was a victory in the one discipline we hadn’t previously seen him in. So it is going to be interesting to see where Wicklow Brave goes now. There are a number of opportunities open for him and don’t be surprised to see him mixing it up throughout the season.
There is a chance we will next see the horse on the flat, with Royal Ascot a possibility. He has run a couple of times at the meeting, and this time last year we saw him embark on a small flat campaign that took in four races. He won three of those, with his only defeat coming in the Yorkshire Cup at York.
After that, it will be back to the national hunt scene for this horse. Connections have the option of going over hurdles or fences after his recent win. He was also second in the Cheltenham Festival and a third behind Buveur D’Air at the Punchestown Festival.
With that level of form, there is no doubt that he can compete at the top level. Or at least win races at a slightly lower level, even at the age of 10. The second option for him is to go novice chasing for the season. Based on how good he was over the bigger obstacles at Ballinrobe, I am sure they will explore that option seriously.
The horse has far more racing experience than pretty much any other novice in training. That is despite going into jumping at a late stage. He could use that to his advantage and we may see him in a graded novice event at the Cheltenham Festival.
Where ever he goes, it appears that there is still plenty of life in Wicklow Brave. He has been a great servant to the Willie Mullins yard. A plan for the future hasn’t been made yet, but he has options. Will we see him on the flat this summer followed by either hurdles or fences? There will be plenty coming up to keep this lad busy. And he should win his fair share of races, even at the grand old age of 10.
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