Trainer Henry De Bromhead landed the 2m 2f Grade 3 Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse 12 months ago with Honeysuckle, so looks to have another smart prospect on his hands for this year’s renewal in Minella Melody on Saturday (14:10).
This six-year-old daughter of Flemensfirth is two from two over hurdles and won a Listed affair at Punchestown last time out.
That means she carries a penalty and gives weight all-round, but Minella Melody also has some smart form in the book.
A useful bumper performer, she was runner-up to The Glancing Queen in a Grade 2 at Aintree after bolting up by 12 lengths at Gowran Park on debut under Rules.
Minella Melody then ran third in a Punchestown Festival event where she finished in front of re-opposing duo Darrens Hope and Yukon Lil. There is no reason why she shouldn’t confirm form with both.
That’s because Minella Melody landed her hurdles bow at Cork over 2m 4f when making all.
She jumped well, was a comfortable 2 3/4 lengths victor over Earthiest Words and they pulled well clear of the third.
Drury filled that spot at Cork and has since won both of her starts, including over the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle course and distance. That advertises the form nicely.
Minella Melody then got some black type with that Listed success. She kept on well under pressure to assert close home and hold Mount Ida by three-quarters of a length. That one was then third to Drury, so the form is neatly tied together.
With De Bromhead’s stable on a 25 per cent strike rate in the last fortnight at the time of writing, and Rachael Blackmore back aboard, Minella Melody is worth a wager at 11/2 with Unibet to go in again.
Mullins trio all dangers
Willie Mullins has won the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle six times, including with subsequent Cheltenham Festival heroines Glens Melody, Limini and Laurina.
Anything the Closutton handler runs in this has to be respected and there are three of those this year.
Dolcita is prominent in the betting with bookmakers on the Grade 2 Dawn Run for novice hurdlers at Cheltenham and gets the most weight from Minella Melody.
She is feared most because of that and a very taking Irish debut last time out.
This five-year-old Sullivan Bloodstock owned mare placed on both of her starts in France before being bought and sent to Mullins.
Dolcita made her bow in the Emerald Isle at Tramore last month when bolting up by 11 lengths on heavy ground. She led travelling well from two out and soon shot clear to score easily.
What she beat is questionable and Mullins’ stable jockey Paul Townend has got off Dolcita, however, but it was still visually impressive.
The third has come out since and won, surviving a stewards enquiry. Dolcita could be anything and, with Mark Walsh now taking the ride, she is 15/8 with Boylesports to follow-up.
Colreevy has Grade 1 credentials
Townend is aboard Yukon Lil who did turn a Naas maiden on her bow over obstacles into a procession.
The six-year-old beat Miss Aloud – a winner at Ayr since – by 12 lengths. On bumper form, however, Yukon Lil is opposable despite odds of 9/4 with BetVictor for this.
The Mullins trio is completed by Colreevy, who has a progressive profile and form at the highest level.
This seven-year-old was behind Yukon Lil in a Listed bumper at Fairyhouse, but had previously landed a Grade 3.
Colreevy then captured the 2019 Punchestown Festival Champion Bumper when beating subsequent Grade 1 winning hurdler Abacadabras by a length.
She didn’t score on her bow over the smaller obstacles at Cork, but went one better when up in trip at Limerick.
As Colreevy made all and has that fine form to her credit, she is also feared at odds of 9/2 with Betfred for the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle.
Picking one of these Mullins mounts is very difficult as each has something going for her and the yard is in great form.
Don’t discount Gin On Lime and Global Equity in Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle
A case can be made for most of the seven runners. Gin On Lime makes her debut for Jessica Harrington.
As a juvenile pitched straight in against her elders, she receives a stone weight-for-age from Dolcita, who in turn is getting 6lb from Minella Melody.
This four-year-old French import is clearly held in high regard to be thrown into such a competitive race.
Gin On Lime ran out an impressive nine-length winner of her sole career start at Clairefontaine.
What the form of that three-runner affair amounts to is anyone’s guess. Gin On Lime is the first of those involved to race again.
Harrington does not go tilting at windmills, however, and the race terms of the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle are clearly in her horse’s favour.
Gin On Lime is thus a very hard filly to assess. She cannot be ruled out receiving weight all-round and is worth a market check after an early show 20/1 became 10/1 with Betway.
Joseph O’Brien is represented here by Global Equity – an unlucky third against the geldings in the Grade 3 Irish Independent Hurdle at Limerick last time out.
This five-year-old is still a maiden over hurdles, but that does not tell the full story.
Global Equity outran odds of 18/1 on drying ground when short of room approaching two out, but keeping on to make the frame.
She was only beaten about three lengths by Soviet Pimpernel and finished ahead of Naas Grade 3 winner Surin.
This is no easier now in open novice company after racing against her own age bracket, but Global Equity gets 2lb weight-for-age from her elders like Dolcita.
She is 20/1 with Betfair for the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle which also includes Darrens Hope in a fascinating field.