David Mullins fell head over heels for Brain Power a long time ago and after Michael Buckley’s gorgeous six-year-old put in a brazen round of jumping on his chase debut at Kempton on Monday, the Grand National-winning jockey had that loving feeling all over again, hailing him the most exciting novice he has ever partnered over fences.
“He danced like Michael Flatley in front of a fence - he’s deadly,” were among his first words to Buckley and trainer Nicky Henderson on his return from a 28-length thrashing of the 140-rated War Sound.
Clever when he needed to be, Brain Power let rip at more than one fence, including the first open ditch which he stood off a mile and cleared it by almost the same distance.
“It was every bit as good as it looked,” added his rider. “He didn't do anything stupid. He used to get a little bit ignorant at his hurdles but he makes a proper shape over a fence.
"He doesn’t get too high and is just perfect. His mind is made up and you just go with it. In a novice chase, it’s definitely the best feel I’ve had and hopefully he can progress into being an Arkle horse.”
Henderson won the same 2m2f novice chase with subsequent Racing Post Arkle hero Altior last season and all roads lead to the same Cheltenham Festival contest for Brain Power, whose Arkle odds now range between 8-1 and 12-1.
“He’s very good and a huge talent,” said Henderson. “He’s grown up and we let him bowl along today - he will have learned a lot. The Arkle is the ultimate objective and we’ll more than likely go the Altior route.
"He was a genuine Champion Hurdle horse but David said fences are the making of him. He was listening to his rider today.”