Willie Mullins Stable Tour – Key quotes ahead of Festival
We bring you this Willie Mullins Stable Tour ahead of the upcoming Cheltenham Festival, which starts on Tuesday 10th March.
No trainer has tasted more success at the Cheltenham Festival than Willie Mullins. Since saddling his first winner in 1995, Mullins has racked up 65 winners and completed the clean-sweep of the Championship races 12 months ago, as Al Boum Photo handed Mullins a first Cheltenham Gold Cup triumph.
With just weeks to go until the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, we bring you the latest quotes from Ireland’s Champion Trainer, as he runs through his formidable squad.
*All Willie Mullins Stable Tour quotes attributed to AtTheRaces*
Willie Mullins Stable Tour – Day One
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
“His owner Mr Donnelly has left it up to us to decide where to run all of his horses and we think this lad should go for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. We had originally considered him to be an Albert Bartlett type as he shows us very little speed at home, but he has been brilliant over much shorter trips.”
As you can tell from our Cheltenham Festival tips, we think Asterion Forlonge has an excellent chance of opening the meeting on a high for Willie Mullins!
Arkle Novices’ Chase
“He will run in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival. He reminds me of Un De Sceaux, both in how he is at home and how he races. He just wants to get on with it. If we got soft or heavy ground, it would be a big help to him. He’ll be meeting Notebook again, but I’d be hopeful our fella can improve from Leopardstown and can hopefully make a good go of reversing the form. He has a great attitude.”
“The plan is to supplement him for the Champion Hurdle. Our thinking is that he probably has a better chance of being placed in a Champion Hurdle than he would in a Champion Chase. The Red Mills Hurdle gave us a chance to have a look at him over hurdles and we were happy with what he did there. He wasn’t spectacular there, but I really liked what he did from making a mess of the third-last hurdle onwards was impressive.”
“He’ll go for the Champion Hurdle. His last run was terrible. He missed the first hurdle down the back at Leopardstown and we don’t know why he did it as his jumping is excellent. Other than that, we couldn’t find any other reason for him. Better ground is important to him. I’d imagine Patrick will ride him.”
Benie Des Dieux
“She is entered in the Mares’ Hurdle and the Stayers’ Hurdle. She was very unlucky in the Mares’ Hurdle last year and I’d like to go back there as she has unfinished business there. I believe Rich Ricci mentioned the Champion Hurdle at some stage, but he hasn’t spoken to me about it or any other plans for her! She’s a hell of a mare. What she did in France last year went under the radar here, but it was brilliant.”
If you’ve read our Cheltenham Festival tips, you’ll know we think Benie Des Dieux will be very hard to beat in the Mares’ Hurdle.
“She’ll go for the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and I was impressed with her latest win. We tend to let her do whatever she wants to do, though she got taken on for the lead the last day and she settled better than she might have in the past.”
National Hunt Chase
“We picked the National Hunt Chase for him a long way out, but I was a bit surprised the lads didn’t enter him for any of the other novice chases! He gallops and jumps, and I think he has more speed than his appearance suggests he has. He is usually a good jumper but has made a few mistakes in his races. I’d rather he had a bit more experience going to a race like the National Hunt Chase, but if he jumps around cleanly, he looks to have a great chance.”
Cheltenham Festival tips – Day Two
“He has done everything right so far and looks to have a big chance in the Champion Bumper. He’s a big, chasing type, which is unusual for a son of Jeremy. He has a big cruising speed, which is a big help in the Champion Bumper. The fact that he has plenty of experience will be a positive for him too. He looks to be one of our best chances at the meeting.”
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
The Big Getaway
“Having had a chat about it this morning, I think we will aim him at the Ballymore. He’s coming along very nicely. When you look at him physically, you wouldn’t be worrying about him this year, as he looks one for next season really. I hope he runs well at Cheltenham Festival obviously, but he really should be a better horse over a fence next season. That said, I wouldn’t be shying away from Envoi Allen with him either.”
RSA Novices’ Chase
“Having talked to everyone at Cheveley Park the other day, I’d say the RSA Chase is his most likely target at this stage. Mind, there are plenty of people here that think he might be better suited to be Marsh, as he can be a bit keen. His next few bits of work will be crucial, as if he gets a bit lit up by his work, the temptation to go for the shorter race will be there.”
A quick look at our Cheltenham Festival tips and free bet offers will show you we think Allaho will be a big player in either of those novice chases.
Chacun Pour Soi
“He goes for the Champion Chase. He needed the run at Christmas and showed good improvement from that to win at the Dublin Racing Festival. I think he’s progressing all the time. We’ve always thought the world of him, but I did think Min was the one to beat at Leopardstown last time, so it was impressive for him to do what he did. He came out of that race well. While he’s playing catch up in terms of experience compared to his rivals, I’m hoping he’s going to be a big player at the Cheltenham Festival.”
Un De Sceaux
“His connections are very keen to go for the Champion Chase with him. He still retains a huge amount of ability for his age. I’d love to see lots of rain for him. We got the tactics wrong with him in the Ryanair Chase last year and again in the Clarence House last time. I’d say Patrick could well ride him in the Champion Chase, but it’s a very tough race this year.”
See how Daryl Carter thinks Chacun Pour Soi will get on in his Champion Chase video preview here…
Cheltenham Festival tips – Day Three
Marsh Novices’ Chase
“He’s fit and well after his run at Leopardstown. Myself and Rich haven’t spoken about our plans for him yet, that’s the party line! We were delighted that he has been able to come back and win two Grade 1 novice chases at his age. The reaction he got in the stands at Leopardstown was unbelievable. I rarely get moved at a racecourse, but I did there. It was amazing. I haven’t heard Rich’s view with regard to the next step – whether he goes to the Cheltenham Festival at all and if so, which race he prefers there – so I don’t want to say any more than that until I do.”
“He has the Marsh and the RSA as options and it’s still up for grabs I’d say. Better ground would be a help to him, and I’d like to run where we are most likely to get the best ground. We never thought he’d make a chaser, but he is a real natural over fences and looks to have improved for them.”
“I think he’ll go for the March Novices’ Chase. While his jumping is good, it’s not quite good enough for two miles, so the longer trip might well be a help to him. He has finished second at three Cheltenham Festivals, so hopefully he brings his A-game there again.”
“He’s another one that myself and Rich Ricci haven’t discussed yet, but I’d imagine he’d rather keep him and Chacun Pour Soi apart by running Min in the Ryanair Chase.”
You’ll have to read our Cheltenham Festival tips to see if we think Min has the beating of the likes of A Plus Tard and Frodon in the Ryanair!
Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
“She looks a nice type. She was obviously workmanlike winning a maiden hurdle at Limerick last time, but Paul said she blew up five times! She’s still in the picture for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle. She’s been hard to train, and I have very different training regime for her. She looks a lovely mare for the future.”
Willie Mullins has won all four editions of the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and currently trains three of the top six in the market. Lamarckise, Dolcita and Colreevy will all prove popular Cheltenham Festival tips.
Willie Mullins Stable Tour – Day Four
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
“He’ll go for the Albert Bartlett I think. That should be an easy decision. He started out the season a green horse, but he’s improved all the way through. He’s a tall, light-framed horse that doesn’t take a lot of training. He might be more so one for next season, but I hope I’m wrong and he runs a big race at the Cheltenham Festival this season.”
Al Boum Photo
“After the preparation we gave him for the Gold Cup last year worked so well, I thought I’d do the same thing again with him. I suppose I’m a creature of habit with things that work. Because of his preparation, he’ll go to the Gold Cup a fresh horse. It can often be hard for old Cup winners to come back to their best after winning it, so keeping him fresh might be a help to him. I don’t necessarily think it’s a stronger Gold Cup this year than last year. He’s in great form and is very much on target.”
Check out our Cheltenham Festival tips to see who we think is Willie Mullins’ best chance in this year’s Gold Cup.
“He goes for the Gold Cup. I was happy with both his runs this season. He needed the run at Christmas and ran a fantastic race at the Dublin Racing Festival. Better ground would be a help to him. If he could finish in the top three or four, I’d be delighted.”
*All Willie Mullins Stable Tour quotes attributed to AtTheRaces*