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Horse Racing - Racing: Mulholland eyeing Ayr defence

Neil Mulholland is hoping that Milkwood can emulate Sea Pigeon and Birds Nest by winning back-to-back renewals of the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr on Saturday.

Milkwood looking to emulate greats

Those all-time greats won the race on a pair of occasions, Sea Pigeon in 1977 and 1978, and Bird's Nest in 1979 and 1981, and Milkwood, priced at 5/1, was an empathic winner of last year's renewal.

He cruised through the race twelve months ago and quickened clear effortlessly off a 142 rating, winning by a cosy three-and-a-quarter lengths.

The eight-year-old has been seen twice since, finishing second in the Galway Hurdle back in July and has been absent since October, where he was fourth at Uttoxeter off 1lb higher.

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Conditions could be key

Milkwood's best performances have come on better ground with a strong pace to chase and that scenario seems guaranteed in the Scottish Champion Hurdle.

He also has a fair record when fresh, including a win off the back of a 301-day absence, so there can be plenty of hope he will be at his best.

"He's in good form," Mulholland said. "Sam schooled him this morning and we were very happy with him, he schooled well. We've kept him fresh and it's been the plan for a long time.

"He didn't take to fences at Uttoxeter and he wasn't 100 per cent right after, so we freshened him up and made the plan that we'd wait for the better ground.

"He likes the track and I'm not worried about the lack of a prep run. He's been away for a racecourse gallop and he's at his winning weight.

"It would be nice to win it twice and he'd be keeping good company. We'll give it a go but it will be hard – it's hard to win any race these days."

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