Willie Mullins’ Festival Firepower
With the arrival of a battalion of top quality horses to Prestbury Park, Willie Mullins looks set for another hugely successful raid at the Cheltenham Festival.
In his search for a fourth leading trainers title, Mullins’ will unleash his biggest team to date with over 50 horses looking likely to contest the biggest and best of the 27 races on offer.
Since 1995, Mullins has won 33 Festival races and claimed the title of leading trainer in 2011, 2013 and 2014. He looks set to defend his crown in 2015 with a team filled with strength and depth in all areas.
Tuesday’s card alone could seal the trainer’s title when he saddles the short-priced and well backed favourites for each of four Grade 1 races on the opening day.
In his duo of Douvan and Un De Sceaux, Mullins holds the keys to 2m Novice division over both hurdles and fences as each look as potential-laden and exciting as the other.
Added in to the mix; Faugheen, an improving and unexposed top class Champion Hurdle prospect, and Annie Power, the likely successor to the wonder-mare Quevega and her brilliance in the Mares’ Hurdle, and it becomes clear that Mullins could well dominate these divisions for the foreseeable future.
On to Day 2 of the Festival and Mullins’ controls the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle market with the favourites Nichols Canyon and Outlander, as well as saddling Don Poli and Champagne Fever, who offer very realistic chances of Grade 1 success over fences.
Lets also not forget the Champion Bumper, a race farmed in recent years by the Mullins’ team and headed this year by the likes of Bordini and Pylonthepressure, two promising horses who are both unbeaten in National Hunt flat races.
One of last year’s Festival superstars, Vautour, leads the charge on the third day as a well-fancied favourite for the JLT Novices’ Chase whilst Briar Hill will try to rekindle the sparkle he showed as a Novice hurdler when he lines up to contest the World Hurdle.
Finally we have Cheltenham Gold Cup day and after nearly tasting success in two previous renewals, Mullins could well break his duck and land the Blue Riband with Djakadam, another hugely promising individual.
He also saddles the current favourite for the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – Black Hercules, completing a clean sweep of the favourites for each of the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle and Chase contests at the Festival.