Paul Mulrennan gears up for arguably his biggest challenge on a racecourse at Beverley on Tuesday.
With the eyes of the sporting world fixed upon the East Yorkshire circuit, the Group One-winning jockey is ready to unleash black Labrador Stella in the inaugural running of the Burgess Supadog Bark de Triomphe.
Stella, a chiselled veteran of the northern circuit, will be joined in the Bark de Triomphe line-up by housemate Peggy, a miniature Jack Russell who is trained by Mulrennan’s wife, Adele.
Paul Mulrennan said: “It’s obviously a high-pressure situation, but it’s a nice kind of pressure.
“I’m sure the nerves will kick in eventually, but the team are happy and relaxed and the atmosphere in the camp is very positive.
“Stella and Peggy are as well as they can be without having had a run.
“As long as we get that all important luck in running, you’d expect both of them to show their true colours.”
Adele and Paul Mulrennan are two of the 11 licensed jockeys to have made the seamless transition from riding winners to training dogs in the half-a-furlong dash to canine glory on the Westwood.
The class K9 affair for eight-month-olds and upwards will be staged in aid of Antibiotic Research UK and features two Bark Trials at 1.15pm and 1.20pm.
The first three dogs home in each heat will then contest the grand final of the Bark de Triomphe at 1.25pm.
With a total prize fund of unbelievable kudos and a bag of Burgess Supadog up for grabs, the stakes could barely be higher.
Paul Mulrennan added: “Both dogs are fit and well and champing at the bit.
“Stella is getting on a bit now, but her home-work has been good and she’s experienced enough by now to handle the demands of Beverley.
“She’s been on a diet of white fish and water to get down to her fighting weight, and I think we have her just about spot-on, in truth.
“Peggy, on the other hand, was born for a day like this.
“She’s a lean, mean fighting machine with a big engine and a touch of class. Put it this way, she knows she’s top dog.
“She might be a miniature Jack Russell, but Peggy is a Yorkshire terrier in every sense of the word in that she never knows when she’s beaten.
“It will be a big day for the Mulrennan family, but an even bigger day for Stella and Peggy.
“Here’s hoping they can put their best paw forward and lead by example.”
The Burgess Supadog Bark de Triomphe has already raised over £3,000 for Antibiotic Research UK.
Donations can be made by following this link: www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/antibiotic-researchuk/barkdetriomphe2017
Mulrennan added: “It’s a great initiative and for a really good cause.
“This is just something a little bit different that will hopefully catch the imagination of racegoers and punters.”
The first of eight (horse) races at Beverley starts at 2pm, with the official going on Monday morning reported to be heavy.
SPRINT queen Quiet Reflection could make her seasonal reappearance in the Group 2 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at York on Wednesday 17 May. The richest ever renewal of the contest now worth £125,000
The Karl Burke-trained star was given the 2016 Cartier Sprinter Award after winning two Group 1s – the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and the Sprint Cup (Haydock Park).
Owned by Ontoawinner, Hubert Strecker and Karl and Elaine Burke, the four-year-old filly remains in training for 2017 – and is delighting connections with her physical progress.
Quiet Reflection is very much on target for a return to the track in May, with the six-furlong sprint showpiece of York’s opening day, under serious consideration.
Yorkshire-based trainer Burke said: “She has wintered brilliantly – we’re really pleased with her. We’re just starting to pick up the speed in her work now and she should be fully fit the first week of May, with the intention of either going for the Duke of York or possibly the Temple Stakes the week after.
“Hopefully the ground will be decent at York and we can go there – I just wouldn’t want to run her on real fast ground.
“She has definitely filled her frame. She was 10 kilos heavier through most of the winter, although a few kilos of that have come off now. After Christmas – after her break – when we started riding her again, I think she was 12 or 13 kilos heavier than when she finished last season.
“Like a lot of those sprinters, they fill their frames as they get older – she has definitely done that. She’s definitely stronger and hopefully that will transfer into her running a bit quicker on the track.”
A campaign for Quiet Reflection’s season almost maps itself, Royal Ascot and after that, she could take in the Darley July Cup before possibly tackling the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes back at York. Burke also mentions the Sprint Cup and QIPCO Champions Day as being very much in his thinking.
Whenever and wherever she runs, Burke is keen for all who are connected to her to soak up every minute of it, with a view to her achievements being celebrated once more at the end of season Cartier Awards.
Burke, who trains at Spigot Lodge in Leyburn, said: “It would be nice to think that we can be invited to those type of awards again.”
He added: “It’s what you do the job for – get up early in the mornings for – to find a horse like her. We have to really enjoy it this year.
“Whatever she does, she owes us nothing and I think it’s important that we all enjoy and take it in this year. Last year there was a bit of pressure to get there – now we’ve done it, they can’t take it away from us.”
Last year’s Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes winner Magical Memory is also pencilled in for a return visit to the Knavesmire. The popular grey gelding is among the 36-strong entry for the race.
Owned by Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, the five-year-old hasn’t won since his victory in the race last year but he did finish a close-up fourth in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Sam Hoskins, racing manager for Kennett Valley Thoroughbreds, said: “The plan is to head straight to York. Last year he won at Newmarket (Abernant Stakes) before but it’s a long season and hopefully he will arrive at York in good shape.
“He had a minor setback last September but appears over it now and is training well. It’s all systems go for York and it would be great if he could reproduce last year’s win.
“York has been a lucky track for us – Tullius won the Skybet York Stakes a couple of years ago and of course Magical Memory won last year. We are really looking forward to going back there.”
Caravaggio, an unbeaten two-year-old star of 2016, has been given an entry by trainer Aidan O’Brien. The Tin Man, who took the QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes, is the third Group 1 winner entered for the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes.
York’s season-opening Dante Festival runs from Wednesday 17 May to Friday 19 May inclusive.
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