Hurricane Fly success would be “dream” result for Mullins
Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins believes he has assembled his strongest team ever for the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, and revealed that a third Champion Hurdle win for Hurricane Fly would be the dream result for the whole meeting.
Mullins has been the leading trainer at The Festival in three of the last four years and has registered 33 winners, the highest total ever by an Irish-based trainer.
Speaking at a press day ahead of next month’s four-day spectacular the County Carlow handler said: “This is definitely our strongest team going to Cheltenham, both in terms of numbers and quality, The last couple of years we have had about 40 horses going over, but this year I think we have another 10 on top of that.
“It is what we are in the game for could- to go to Cheltenham with as many horses as possible who have a decent chance.”
Below are Mullins’ thoughts on his hurdle entries at the Festival, and Coral’s lastest odds for their intended targets:
Arctic Fire: “I am not discounting Arctic Fire in the Champion Hurdle. He is improving all the time.
“He was beaten a head in the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle last year and horses have come on from that to win the Champion Hurdle.
“He has always shown me plenty at home and when he was a three-year-old I thought this fella was better than any of them. I still don’t think we have seen the best of him.
“He will love the strong pace at Cheltenham and we know he likes the track. If he doesn’t win at Cheltenham, he will win a good race over hurdles at some point.”
Coral latest odds: 14/1 Champion Hurdle
Alvisio Ville: “He is still in the Supreme and Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdles. We have taken him out of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdles, although I would have left him in it. I would imagine connections are favouring the Supreme.”
Coral latest odds: 16/1 Supreme Novices Hurdle
Annie Power: “She is in great form and has hit every target we have set her.
“My aim at the moment is the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle. We will see what happens with the World Hurdle, but it will be a tough ask going three miles first time out in Cheltenham.
“She will probably be a bit fresher as well and that is another point to consider. You can say she didn’t have the stamina last year because of the fact she didn’t settle.”
Coral latest odds: 10/11 fav Mares’ Hurdle
Black Hercules: “He is in good form and is more than likely to go for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.”
Coral latest odds: 6/1 fav Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Douvan: “He is very good and there have been no problems. He is marked in for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, end of story.
“He has got lots of ability and each time we ask him to do something, he comes up with the answer.
“He just does everything right and is as nice a horse as we have ever had going to Cheltenham. He is a fair machine.”
Coral latest odds: 7/4 fav Supreme Novices Hurdle
Discosimo: “He will hopefully go for the JCB Triumph Hurdle. He is on Sunday and I will decide if he runs after he works later in the week. The form of his win at Gowran suggests he might be the best of our three in the Triumph.”
Coral latest odds: 14/1 Triumph Hurdle
Faugheen: “He is doing everything right. Nigel Twiston-Davies has questioned what Faugheen has beaten and I am going to side with him on that for the time being!
“I thought Faugheen might go chasing this season but, when we analysed everything and looked at the fact that he hadn’t been beaten, everyone was keener for him to go back hurdling and Vautour to go chasing.
“To have a potential champion hurdler in the yard is huge, rather than a horse going for the Arkle Chase.
“We thought Vautour could possibly win an Arkle and possibly be a Gold Cup horse one day and we weren’t as sure about Faugheen doing that.
“I did not want to travel to England again for a prep run and I didn’t want to take on Hurricane Fly in the Irish Champion. We prepared Faugheen for the Red Mills Trial but, after a good discussion with Ruby, we felt he didn’t need any more experience.
“We looked up the stats and have seen plenty of horses that have gone straight from Kempton to Cheltenham without a run. I think people look too much into stats, especially ones only going back 10 years or so. I prefer to look back 25 or 30 years.”
Coral latest odds: 11/10 fav Champion Hurdle
Glens Melody: “She is very good and has done everything right this year. She showed last year that she is well up to winning a mares’ hurdle and the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle is her aim again.”
Coral latest odds: 6/1 Mares’ Hurdle
Hurricane Fly: “He has done everything right this season. If he was two or three years younger, he would definitely be favourite as he has done everything a clear favourite should have.
“People say he can’t win because of his age but he is class. Some people say he doesn’t run his best in Cheltenham but I am not so sure. He has won two Champion Hurdles from four starts and I think I had two good excuses for the times he got beaten.
“When he was really right going into Cheltenham, he has won. Horses have to be really right on the day or they will struggle. I felt going into his last two runs last season that he wasn’t sparking as he can – he was just going through the motions.
“So far this year, he has not shown any of those signs. Paul Townend rides him and is a great indicator. He can tell me down to the ants how the horse is training and is giving me positive feedback all the time.
“It would be my dream result for the whole of Cheltenham if Hurricane Fly could win a third Champion Hurdle. He is our king but if Faugheen rises and wins it, then there is obviously great potential there to win another.”
Coral latest odds: 8/1 Champion Hurdle
Kalkir: “He is set for the JCB Triumph Hurdle now. He put in a very good performance behind our mare at Leopardstown last time and I think he will improve from that.”
Coral latest odds: 16/1 Triumph Hurdle
Nichols Canyon: “I reckon he will end up in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle. He will have no problem staying the extra distance and some people have said he could be another Inglis Drever for his owner. He stays two miles on the Flat and can go out to any trip.”
Coral latest odds: 6/1 fav Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
Outlander: “It will more than likely be the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle for Outlander. I think he has Neptune written all over him. He disappointed me in Limerick and because of that probably surprised me a bit when he won in Leopardstown.”
Coral latest odds: 7/1 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
Petite Parisienne: “It was not a surprise when she won last time out as she was very unlucky not to win first time up at Punchestown.
“She is a very classy mare and will have a good chancein the JCB Triumph Hurdle.”
Coral latest odds: 8/1 Triumph Hurdle
Shaneshill: “I will have to see how he works in the build-up because he missed a bit of time.
“He is coming back and, because the owners (Graham and Andrea Wylie) have Black Hercules for the Albert Bartlett and Nichols Canyon for the Neptune, he may end up in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. That is the plan at the moment but Shaneshill has a good bit of work to do first.”
Coral latest odds: 12/1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Tell Us More: “Tell Us More will go for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle or the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle but it will depend how he gallops between now and then. I would prefer to keep him to the Neptune, but he has to come back right and please me at home before he goes to Cheltenham at all.”
Coral latest odds: 12/1 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, 25/1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle