Mullins: Un De Sceaux the type of chaser you love to train
Trainer Willie Mullins has a strong team of chasers to go to war with at next month’s Cheltenham Festival, and believes odds-on Arkle hope Un De Sceaux faces a huge test given his style of racing.
The County Carlow handler described the seven-year-old’s trailblazing style as “heart-stopping” but is happy to go along with the view of bookmakers and punters that if he stays up he wins.
Below are Mullins’ thoughts on his main chase entries at the Festival, and Coral’s latest odds for their intended targets:
Boston Bob: “I was disappointed with him the last day. He will go for the Cheltenham Gold Cup instead of the Ryanair Chase because if he won that, everyone would be asking why he didn’t go for the Gold Cup.”
Coral latest odds: 25/1 Gold Cup
Champagne Fever: “I would imagine, with the way the cards are falling, Champagne Fever will go for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
“You would think after his performance at Gowran that he should go for the Ryanair Chase but I think connections are favouring the Champion.
“He jumped fantastically and really enjoyed it at the weekend. It was great to see him back in that sort of form and he has been on fire since.
“He has won twice and been beaten a short-head in three runs over two miles at Cheltenham. You probably need a two and a half miler to win the Champion Chase anyway, so I’d rather have a crack at that and fail than go for the Ryanair.”
Coral latest odds: 5/1 Queen Mother Champion Chase
Djakadam: “He is on course for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and I think the extra couple of furlongs will help him.
“If you look at our three horses in the Gold Cup, his latest performance was the best of the three even though it was only a handicap.
“Gowran is a fair test of any horse, especially in that ground. He had seasoned handicappers slogging away in behind him while Ruby was swinging from four out. He had top-weight as well and I think it was a Gold Cup performance.
“I am putting a line through his run at Newbury. We could not get a run into him beforehand because of the dry weather and he wasn’t fit enough.”
Coral latest odds: 12/1 Gold Cup
Don Poli: “I nominated the Toby Balding National Hunt Chase for Don Poli back in November but I think the Gigginstown team and Bryan Cooper are favouring the RSA Chase. A lot will depend on what they want to do as they have a lot of horses in both races.
“I look at his style of running and think the four-miler will really suit him. I love his style of racing and since they changed the conditions, I think the four-miler is becoming a classier race.
“I thought Valseur Lido was an RSA horse but I think connections want to go for the JLT Novices’ Chase. They also have Very Wood for the four-miler and one or two others, so it will depend on where they go.”
Coral latest odds: 3/1 fav RSA Chase, 7/2 fav National Hunt Chase
On His Own: “He has so much stamina and the Cheltenham Gold Cup is all about stamina.
“He jumps well enough, although he gives up a bit of ground going out to the right, and the test really suits him. He loves an end to end gallop and I am hoping he will be there again at the finish.”
Coral latest odds: 20/1 Gold Cup
Un De Sceaux: “He has made a brilliant transition to fences. We didn’t take on the best over hurdles last season, although he went to France and beat the best over there. If he takes to jumping fences in Cheltenham he is going to put up a big show in the Arkle Chase.
“It is going to be a huge test for him given his style of racing – he goes flat out. He is the type of chaser you love to train. He is a proper two-miler and is really exciting to watch. His style of racing is heart stopping almost but that’s the way he is.
“Punters and bookmakers have decided that if he stays up, he wins and I am happy to go along with that!”
Coral latest odds: 4/7 fav Arkle Chase
Valseur Lido: “I think the gap between the Drinmore and his last run was the reason he got beat. He will improve for that.
“What wins the Moriarty usually goes on to the RSA Chase and that’s the way I would like to go with him, but it might not suit Gigginstown and their other horses, so I can see him going for the JLT Novices’ Chase.
“He will be a contender in both races and I feel the further he goes, the easier he is going to do it.”
Coral latest odds: 6/1 JLT Novices’ Chase, 10/1 RSA Chase
Vautour: “If something happens to Un De Sceaux, then he could go for the Arkle but at the moment Vautour is going for the JLT Novices’ Chase.
“He won the other day but I still have a good bit of work to do to get him back where he was last December. He will do that this week and next week and I think it will come.
“I think he can go any trip. He is bred to stay but has the stride and speed for two miles. The JLT is where I want to go with him.”
Coral latest odds: 5/2 fav JLT Novices’ Chase