Blood disorder in Mullins’ yard

Willie Mullins is blaming his 17 Festival losses on a blood disorder that affected many of his team. Apart from Hedgehunter’s impressive runner-up performance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and a third from Adamant Approach in the County Hurdle, Mullins had no other horses finish in the top three.

According to Mullins, tests after the Festival revealed that in many cases the horses’ blood was not right. However Hedgehunter and Adamant Approach both tested negative for any disorder. Mullins believes that because they are older horses they have a higher immunity against infections.

Birds cause chaos at Ascot

Two months before Ascot is due to reopen following a £200 million redevelopment, flocks of rooks and crows have been pecking out many of the new turfed areas of the flat course.

The birds have been feeding on the larvae stage of the fever fly, a small mosquito-type insect that lives in the shoots, just above the root layer, of the grass plant. Several trainers have experienced this problem with grass gallops in the south of England but it is not expected to threaten the racecourse’s first meeting since September 2004 on 27 May.

Bird scarers are being used to ward off the intruders and if the problem continues, and birds of prey will be used to rid the area of rooks and crows.

Ouija Board ready to rock

Trainer Ed Dunlop is preparing Britain’s star mare Ouija Board to increase her earnings more than one and a half times in the $5m Dubai Sheema Classic, at Nad Al Sheba on Saturday.

Winner of the equivalent of more than $3m from seven wins and four places, Ouija Board completed her preparation on Wednesday morning with a steady seven-furlong spin in the company of stablemate Court Masterpiece. Dunlop is very pleased with the mare’s progress – claiming she is stronger than last year.

War of Attrition set for Punchestown

War of Attrition, the Gold Cup winner, is on fighting form and will finish off his season in the Grade 1 Guinness Gold Cup at the Punchestown Festival on 26 April.

The seven-year-old’s trainer Mouse Morris believes that Aintree is too soon and has opted for Punchestown instead. War Of Attrition won the Grade 1 Swordlestown Cup Novice Chase at last year’s Punchestown Festival and it was at the same track that he beat Kicking King in the Daily Star Chase in October.

Fota Island, runner-up to Newmill in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham nine days ago, will be Morris’s only runner for the Grand National.

Durack back on track

Seamus Durack was back on a horse this week for the first time since last spring when he fractured his hip and right leg in a fall at Towcester. He rode out at Mark Pitman’s stables in Lambourn, after being given a positive update by a specialist.

In January it was still unclear whether Durack would be able to continue as a jockey but the latest X-rays are positives. The jockey must still wait a full year before returning to competition.

And finally…

A grandmother of five won £1,500 on the Cheltenham Gold Cup – with a mere 70p bet. Doreen Mahoney, 70, from Lambourn, is ecstatic about last Friday’s win. She placed an each-way bet on Forget the Past, which finished third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday. Mahoney has vowed to spend the winnings on her grandchildren and on a new gas cooker and fridge freezer.

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