GBI RACING

Bunk Off Early on the comeback trail for Willie Mullins

Bunk Off Early

Connections of Bunk Off Early are hopeful the talented gelding will rediscover his best form this season after undergoing life-saving colic surgery in the spring.

A winner on the Flat a couple of years ago when trained by Andrew Oliver, the son of Zebedee was snapped up by the Supreme Horse Racing Club to go jumping with Willie Mullins.

He made a fine start to his new career, winning on his hurdling debut at Leopardstown last Christmas before finding only high-class stablemate Bacardys too strong in the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle at the same venue in February.

However, Bunk Off Early disappointed when well-fancied for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival the following month and again at Punchestown in April, after which a problem was discovered.

Steve Massey, racing manager for the owners, said: "Having run so well in the Deloitte, we were really excited about his chances in the Supreme, but he didn't travel as strongly as he did at Leopardstown and it was the same at Punchestown.

"Not long after he came down with a bout of colic and it was touch and go for a while, but thankfully he pulled through.

"Whether the colic problem was bothering him at Cheltenham and Punchestown we'll never know, but we think it might have been.

"He was a bit later going out for his summer break than most of the horses and was consequently a bit late coming back into training, but he's back on the gallop now and seems in really good form. It's early days, but he's keen on the gallops again, which is a positive sign.

"Because he was late coming back into training, I would imagine it will be around Christmas before we see him on the track again, but obviously his Deloitte run was top-class and if we can get him back to that sort of form we should have plenty of fun with him."

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