Veteran import to start in Mornington Cup

By: Craig Brennan Wednesday 21 March 2018

An 11-year-old former Irish-trained gelding is about to reignite his career in Australia.

Clondaw Warrior, a one-time Melbourne Cup nomination for Willie Mullins, is set to run in Saturday's Mornington Cup for Patrick Ryan.

He'll be first-up over 2400m but Ryan insists it would be pointless starting him in anything shorter.

"From an Australian physic it seems a bit bizarre to be starting an 11 year-old first-up over 2400 metres, but he's never raced at anything shorter throughout his career," Warrnambool-based Ryan said.

"It would be futile running him over 1400 metres, 1600 or 1800 as it could do more damage than good I think.

"He'll sit back, unleash some quick sectionals late, but whether he's too old for this class, Saturday will tell us."

Clondaw Warrior was a versatile galloper under Mullins.

He won at Royal Ascot in 2015, ran second in a Doncaster Cup, second in a St Leger at Arlington in the US, won over hurdles in Ireland and also competed at last year's Cheltenham jumps festival.

Ryan was dispatched to Ireland last year by prominent jumps owner Sandy Mcgregor with an order to buy three or four jumpers.

"We went around a lot stables, went to the Doncaster sales and met a bloke who worked for Willie Mullins," Ryan said.

"We told him what we wanted, he told me Ivan Grozny and Clondaw Warrior would fit the bill as they weren't your traditional European wet-track grinders, but good flat horses as well.

"We were able to buy them quite cheaply and I knew we could train them at the beach and try and get a season or two out of them."

Clondaw Warrior has been with Ryan since mid-November and plans are to go hurdling this jumps season.

Once holding a rating of 108 on the flat in the UK, his Australian rating is 95.

Ryan said he would get too much weight in weaker country cups so he's opted for Saturday.

"They're both good quality horses, it's just they're a bit long in the tooth," Ryan said.

"I'm hoping giving them a bit of one-on-one attention they will recapture a bit of their youth.

"For what we paid for them we only really need to win one nice race and if that could be Saturday, that would be good and the pressure would be off."

Ivan Grozny, who Ryan said once held favouritism for the UK's biggest handicap, the Ebor, would commence his Australian campaign in the Stawell Cup on April 1.