Mulholland sets three-pronged attack on Gilgandra Cup

Sea of Flames, pictured here winning at Orange in January, is Michael Mulholland’s leading chance in Sunday’s $50,000 Gilgandra Cup. Image – Racing Photography.

Michael Mulholland knows what it takes to win a Gilgandra Cup, with the Dubbo conditioner winning the race in 2021 with Universal Thief and again in 2023 with Cheptegei. 

On Sunday, he’ll have three chances in the $50,000 feature, with Athena’s Land (Nick Heywood), Reward Seeker (Serg Lisnyy), and Sea Of Flames (Shayleigh Ingelse) all contesting the 1600m event. 

“Sea Of Flames is my best chance,” Mulholland told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.

“He’s just a bit fitter and primed for a good race.

“The short straight means you want to be in the first three, and he should find a good spot.

“He’s got that little kick, and horses in front after the corner can be hard to run down.” 

Mulholland likes Athena’s Lad but suggested he will be ready to fire second-up in the Cowra Cup on January 21.

“Don’t worry, Athena’s Lad is a class horse and can put in a big race, but he will be ready for the Cowra Cup the following run,” Mulholland said. 

“With all those other Country Cups now Big Dance races, it’s taken a lot away from trainers like me, so you need to have the horses you have ready when the right cups come up, and the Gilgandra and Cowra Cups are two that we’re targeting.”

Reward Seeker has been a good earner for connections, but Mulholland hinted that his old stager might soon be retiring.

“Reward Seeker is a nine-year-old, and unless he puts in a good run either at Gilgandra or Cowra, he’ll be retired,” Mulholland said.

“He’s been a good horse, but he’s not returned as well as he normally does.” 

Mulholland had the utmost respect for local galloper Turgenev, trained by Kieren Hazelton. 

The five-year-old oozes ability, and last start, he brought up career win number six in a 1410m Open Handicap at Orange on December 28.

“Kieren’s is definitely the one to beat,” Mulholland said. 

“It’s been racing well, and it’s trained on the track.”

Last year’s Gilgandra Cup winner will take on the Gilgandra Town Plate (1100m), with Cheptegei (Serg Lisnyy) drawing nicely with gate four in the $35,000 feature sprint.

“Cheptegei has taken a little while to get up and going, and he’s had a couple of niggles,” Mulholland said. 

“If it is a wet track, he’s right in it, but being a sand-based track, it will still suit him, but we’d like it to be a little wet.”

Mulholland said his best of the day is Capaldi in the 1800m Class Three Handicap.

“He is just screaming out for more ground, and he is in an 1800m horse,” Mulholland said.  “He missed the kick by 20 lengths and still ran fourth last start, and I had to re-trial him. 

“He went good; he is fit enough and should have too much class for that field.”

It will be another good Country Cup meeting at Gilgandra on Sunday, and complementing the Gilgandra Cup and Town Plate is the $50,000 Super Maiden (1280m).

Michael Mulholland knows what it takes to win a Gilgandra Cup, with the Dubbo conditioner winning the race in 2021 with Universal Thief and again in 2023 with Cheptegei. 

On Sunday, he’ll have three chances in the $50,000 feature, with Athena’s Land (Nick Heywood), Reward Seeker (Serg Lisnyy), and Sea Of Flames (Shayleigh Ingelse) all contesting the 1600m event. 

“Sea Of Flames is my best chance,” Mulholland told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.

“He’s just a bit fitter and primed for a good race.

“The short straight means you want to be in the first three, and he should find a good spot.

“He’s got that little kick, and horses in front after the corner can be hard to run down.” 

Mulholland likes Athena’s Lad but suggested he will be ready to fire second-up in the Cowra Cup on January 21.

“Don’t worry, Athena’s Lad is a class horse and can put in a big race, but he will be ready for the Cowra Cup the following week,” Mulholland said. 

“With all those other Country Cups Big Dance races, it’s taken a lot away from trainers like me, so you need to have the horses you have ready when the right cups come up, and the Gilgandra and Cowra Cups are two that we’re targeting.”

Reward Seeker has been a good earner for connections, but Mulholland hinted that his old stager might soon be retiring.

“Reward Seeker is a nine-year-old, and unless he puts in a good run either at Gilgandra or Cowra, he’ll be retired,” Mulholland said.

“He’s been a good horse, but he’s not returned as well as he normally does.” 

Still, Mulholland had the utmost respect for local galloper Turgenev, trained by Kieren Hazelton. 

The five-year-old oozes ability, and last start, he brought up career win number six in a 1410m Open Handicap at Orange on December 28.

“Kieren’s is definitely the one to beat,” Mulholland said. 

“It’s been racing well, and it’s trained on the track.”

Last year’s Gilgandra Cup winner will take on the Gilgandra Town Plate (1100m), with Cheptegei (Serg Lisnyy) drawing nicely with gate four in the $35,000 feature sprint.

“Cheptegei has taken a little while to get up and going, and he’s had a couple of niggles,” Mulholland said. 

If it is a wet track, he’s right in it, but being a sand-based track, it will suit him, but we’d like it to be a little wet.”

Mulholland said his best of the day is Capaldi in the 1800m Class Three Handicap.

“He is just screaming out for more ground, and he is in an 1800m horse,” Mulholland said.  “He missed the kick by 20 lengths and still ran fourth last start, and I had to re-trial him. 

“He went good; he is fit enough and should have too much class for that field.”

It will be another good Country Cup meeting at Gilgandra on Sunday, and complementing the Gilgandra Cup and Town Plate is the $50,000 Super Maiden (1280m).