Trainers’ title-chasing Mullins planning all-out assault at Grand National Festival
David Metcalf | March 30, 2016
Mullins all the rage for British trainers’ championship
Willie Mullins is into an odds-on 2/5 with Coral to win a first British trainers’ championship, after unveiling plans for an all-out assault on Aintree’s three-day Grand National Festival meeting with his stable big guns.
The County Carlow handler had been 5/4 prior to revealing that recent Cheltenham Festival superstars Annie Power, Douvan and Vautour would be heading to Merseyside – along with Gold Cup third Don Poli.
It’s a massive statement of intent from Ireland’s leading trainer, and puts huge pressure on current title holder Paul Nicholls.
Champion Hurdle winner Annie Power is set for the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle on the opening afternoon (Thursday, April 7th), along with Nichols Canyon, while Don Poli is heading for the Betfred Bowl on the same card.
Ryanair Chase victor Vautour is in line for the Melling Chase 24 hours later, with brilliant Arkle Challenge Trophy hero Douvan pencilled in for the Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase on Grand National day.
Horses in good form, but hoping for a bit of rain
Mullins said: “We will be bringing a lot of our horses to Aintree, and I just hope we get a bit of rain before then. Annie Power and Nichols Canyon both appear to be in good form and could run in the Aintree Hurdle.
“Vautour may go for the two-and-a-half-mile race and Don Poli over three miles and one. Black Hercules will be entered, Douvan could go there. They have all had it easy since Cheltenham.”
“I’d be keen to run Footpad and Apple’s Jade, and maybe Let’s Dance will go as well in the juvenile race. It will be hard to catch Paul Nicholls, but we’ll give it a go.”
Wins for “big four” would establish healthy lead
Mullins currently trails Nicholls by just over £150k in prize money in the title race, but should the aforementioned “big four” collect he will establish a healthy lead.
Based on last year’s prize money, wins for star Mullins quartet Annie Power, Don Poli, Douvan and Vautour would scoop around £370k.
That would give Mullins a £220k advantage and in effect mean that Nicholls could end up relying on winning the Crabbies’ Grand National on Saturday, April 9th to hold on to the National Hunt trainers’ title.
Ditcheat handler Nicholls, who is now out to 7/4 (from 4/7) with Coral to retain his crown as top trainer, does have a strong representation among this year’s entries for the world’s most famous steeplechase.
The main Nicholls hope would appear to be dual King George VI Chase winner Silviniaco Conti, currently 12/1 joint second favourite for the Grand National.