WILLIE MULLINS and Mallow native Michael O’Sullivan took the second day of Cork’s Easter meeting by storm where the O’Connell family’s great warrior Bachasson showed all his customary enthusiasm to notch up the 17th win of his remarkable career in the Grade 3 Bar One Racing Chase.
The popular grey, still going strong at the age of 12, put up an exhibition of jumping under Sean Flanagan, making every yard of the three mile trip to see off fencing debutant Feronily by a comfortable margin.
The jockey, riding his second winner for Bachasson’s all-conquering trainer Willie Mullins, was rewarded for a chance text message the previous day to Mullins’s assistant David Casey.
Flanagan commented: “I saw there was nobody was down to ride him and that’s my third ride for Willie, so I’ll try to keep up the strike rate!
"He was attacking his fences and was very quick. He doesn’t feel like a 12-year-old and is very, very clever and still has loads of enthusiasm.
"Every time he straightened up and saw a fence, he pricked his ears.”
Those words will be music to the ears of the O’Connell family from Glanmire and particularly poignant as this month marks the second anniversary of his well-liked owner Eddie O’Connell, who will be forever remembered for his association with Un De Sceaux and Gaelic games in Cork.
Claiming rider Michael O’Sullivan, son of former Cheltenham-winning amateur William O’Sullivan, rode his first double for Willie Mullins, initiated aboard Rich Ricci’s French import Mister Policeman in the Bar One Racing Hurdle.
Having forfeited his novice status with an impressive win at Fontainebleu last March, the five-year-old faced seasoned opposition here, but brushed his rivals away with a comfortable two and a quarter length defeat of the 142-rated Cash Back.
O’Sullivan is riding with plenty of confidence and been making good contacts.
He has been riding out for Mullins for over a year, as well as Gordon Elliott and his boss Barry Connell and has a good opinion of the well-supported even money favourite Mister Policeman.
Said the jockey: “He’s a lovely horse who has a big future. He’s very relaxed and I had to wake him up once or twice, but he’s very clever to jump and very straightforward.
"He’ll come on a lot from it and is a nice prospect.”
O’Sullivan doubled up for the same owner and trainer combination via the lightly-raced 10-year-old Aione in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.
Second in this race last year, the always-prominent 4/1 chance had failed to shine since then, but kept on well when challenged by the favourite Largy Debut at the final obstacle to score by half a length.
Aione’s rider reflected: “He had every right to win that and did it well. He jumped brilliantly and won with plenty in hand. There’s probably a big pot in him somewhere.”
O’Sullivan kept Barry Connell and his supporters happy by chalking up winner number three aboard another French-bred L’yser in the most valuable race of the day, the Bar One Racing Price Boosts Easter Handicap Hurdle.
Backed from 3/1 in the morning, he was returned the 9/4 favourite and justified that support with a half length win over the feather-weight Legacy Thor.
O’Connell said: “Our lad beat a well-handicapped horse at Fairyhouse and they pulled well clear, so we were expecting him to come and win today.
"I’m tempted to go chasing straight away with him and we might keep him on the go for the summer and look to the likes of Roscommon and Galway where there’s an ease in the ground.”
Sean Flanagan had earlier doubled up via Anthony McCann’s bargain purchase Luminous Light, bought out of Mark Johnston’s yard last year for just 6,500 guineas, who got off the mark over jumps in the Dermot Casey Tree Care Maiden Hurdle when staying on strongly to deny the favourite Mighty Mo Missouri by two lengths.
The winner carries the colours of the Good Counsellors Syndicate and McCann explained: “The owners are the Good Counsel School in New Ross and Sean went to school there, so it’s great to get a winner for them.
"The connection comes from another former pupil and jockey Jonathan Ross who advises me.
“We always thought a wee bit of him and thought maybe the runner-up might have had a hard race in Cheltenham, so we were glad to take him on today.
"I think he’ll handle any ground but I think he’ll be better on better ground and hopefully he can improve.”