Union Dues (outer) swoops under Patrick Mullins
©Healy Racing Photos
By Gary Carson
Union Dues showed an impressive turn of foot to land the concluding Future Champions Bumper at Navan.
Patrick Mullins was equalling the record score of 72 winners for an amateur rider in a calendar year as the French-bred landed the Grade 2 contest.
The race was run at a steady gallop and the five runners were bunched up turning for home.
Hilltop Tommy took over from front-runner Hidden Lite two furlongs out but his lead looked on sufferance as Champagne James andUnion Dues cruised in behind.
8/11 Champagne James (backed from 11/10 this morning) led briefly a furlong out but was soon swept aside by the Willie Mullins' trained runner.
The 3/1 (from 5/2) winner quickened in style to post an impressive three-and-a-quarter length success.
“He's been pleasing us at home and with the speed he showed there on that ground I think we'll aim him at the Cheltenham bumper,” said Mullins.
“He's won a Grade 2 race there and killed them for speed.”
Stan James made the winner 10/1 joint-favourite for the Cheltenham bumper with stable-mate Clondaw Court, an impressive winner at Punchestown last month. Paddy Power introduced him at 16/1.
Mullins was also full of praise for his son who equalled Billy Parkinson's record, set in 1915, for the number of winners in a calendar year ridden by an amateur.
“He's been riding fantastic all year and has huge commitment. He thinks his own way through his races.
“He's hugely dedicated to keep his weight down to what it is and he very seldom makes a mistake.”
(Additional reporting by Alan Magee)