487 days is a long time in sport and in life, and it proved all the difference for Klassical Dream at the Punchestown Festival, writes Bradley West.
Since Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old last raced all the way back on 29 December 2019 there have been two different US Presidents, four new iPhone models released and, of course, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Clearly, a lot can change. And both the Mullins the trainer and Mullins the jockey, Patrick, would now agree with that when it comes to Klassical Dream.
A shaky last two outings over two miles at Punchestown and Leopardstown in 2019 preceded a long absence but the 2019 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner delivered up in trip on his return with a sensational victory in the Champion Stayers Hurdle.
The odds, which plummeted throughout the day on Klassical Dream, suggested he had a chance but it wasn’t until the third last that the winner coasted clear as pre-race favourite Flooring Porter faded away.
“He’s not simple, he does a lot of jumping around and he can be temperamental,” winning jockey Mullins said.
“He’s fine once he gets going, it’s just the walk up and first ten strides when he gets excited.
“He didn’t put a foot wrong after the third – he was a Supreme Novice winner and he had the potential to do that.
“He’s a bit awkward but he seems to have matured a bit and probably going three-mile pace he’s a bit more comfortable.”
The drama began before the race had even started as the form horse Flooring Porter keenly forced a false start, and a bad getaway also hurt the chances of the Gavin Cromwell-trained challenger.
That clearly caught up with him when he fell back at the third last quickly, as Klassical Dream eased to the win ahead of James Du Berlais.
Victory, his eighth in the race, continued Mullins dominance in the trainer ranks this week – his fifth Grade One success from six and ninth victory overall in the Festival so far.
It also gave his son a second Grade One win of the week, as he moved three clear of Jamie Codd in the battle to be crowned Champion Amateur.
And it also made it four Grade One wins now for Klassical Dream, who could now be aimed at a familiar French hunting ground for the Master of Closutton.
“He schooled over fences and he was meant to run in a chase at Christmas, I imagine the French Champion Hurdle would be an option for him,” Mullins added.
“He jumps fences well but, on that performance, he could be a cut above the Stayers division.”