The Big Question – Can Willie Mullins continue to dominate?
Briar Hill will be looking to continue the good recent record of favourites in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (two of the last three renewals have gone the way of the market leader), and follow in the hoof prints of horses like Witchita Lineman and Bobs Worth.
After last year’s emphatic 25/1 victory in the Champion Bumper, this horse has caught the eye in Ireland claiming three victories and remaining unbeaten.
What is particularly impressive is that two of those successes have come at Graded level over 2m4f, in contests which didn’t look to particularly suit.
Blighted by small field races where there has been a distinct lack of pace, many would argue that the racing public are yet to see this horses’ true potential.
Those closest to the Mullins’ yard would agree, with his son Patrick Mullins declaring this horse to be his ‘banker’ of the Festival before the four-day event got underway.
Clearly a dour stayer (looking his strongest going away at the line in the majority of his runs to date), this horse should be ideally suited for the stamina sapping 3m test on offer in the Albert Bartlett.
With strong form at Cheltenham (courtesy of his victory at last year’s Festival); the venue, atmosphere and course should pose no concerns and a truly run race in a big field, surrounded by top quality opposition, could well bring out the best in him.
Put quite simply, the vibes surrounding this horse are infectious! In the wake of what we’ve seen the other Mullins’ novice hurdlers achieve at Prestbury Park, it would be a braver man than I to bet against Briar Hill continuing the dominance.