Willie Mullins has already managed to extend his record-breaking tally of Cheltenham Festival winners this week and it’s unlikely that Ireland’s champion trainer is finished as the meeting goes through the halfway marker on Thursday.
Here’s a look at what the maestro Mullins has running in the seven races on day three in the Cotswolds.
1.30 – Turners Novices’ Chase
- Appreciate It – 4/1
- James Du Berlais – 16/1
Mullins fires two at the opening target as he attempts to take out hot-favourite Mighty Potter from the Gordon Elliott team.
Appreciate It was favourite for last month’s Irish Arkle but only managed third behind El Fabiolo – the dominant Arkle winner here on Tuesday. Paul Townend’s mount tackles this extended trip for the first time in his career now and, at nine years old, is the oldest runner in this race.
James Du Berlais should have no stamina concerns having finished second in a three-mile Grade 1 over hurdles at Punchestown last spring on second start after arriving from France. He made a winning start over fences at Fairyhouse (2m5f, soft) on New Year’s Day but Daryl Jacob’s partner has 31 lengths to find with Mighty Potter on their Dublin Racing Festival clash since.
2.50 – Ryanair Chase
Blue Lord appeared to be a Champion Chase contender after his impressive Leopardstown Grade 1 win at Christmas but he couldn’t back that up at the same venue last month.
He was second behind impressive winner Gentleman De Mee however and he was placed in the Arkle here last season. He was successful on his only try at this sort of trip and remains capable of high-class form when on song. Paul Townend rides.
Janidil was second to stablemate Allaho in this race last year and returns off a light prep, winning the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase last month at Gowran Park on his only outing. Mark Walsh steers in the JP McManus silks.
Old stager Chacun Pour Soi complete the Mullins trio and, at age 11, it would be a shock if Cheltenham Festival glory is finally to be in his story now as his stamina didn’t appear to hold on first go at this trip at Thurles in January.
3.30 – Stayers’ Hurdle
Winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle here in 2019 and fifth in this contest last year, Klassical Dream is a three-time Grade 1 winner at this three-mile trip. He typically goes well fresh and so the fact he hasn’t been seen since December’s close second behind Teahupoo in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse is a positive for Paul Townend’s hope here.
4.10 – Magners Plate Handicap Chase
Just a lone contender in the Plate for the Mullins camp and it’s the top weight Haut En Couleurs, who does have his burden eased to the tune of 3lb by Michael O’Sullivan – the man of the moment on Tuesday when he rode a double here.
He beat Gentleman De Mee no less in a beginners’ contest at Leopardstown last season on his fencing bow and has run some excellent races since in graded company so is dangerous to discount now despite the big weight on his first crack at a handicap.
4.50 – Jack de Bromhead Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
Lot Of Joy is the mount of Paul Townend in what looks a very competitive renewal of this race. She got off the mark over timber at the third time of asking at Fairyhouse last month and is open to plenty of progress upped in grade now.
Nikini was 2-2 over hurdles before settling for second behind today’s rival Magical Zoe in a Grade 3 at Down Royal in November. Patrick Mullins rides here and is heavily involved with a group of friends in the Gorm Agus Ban Syndicate in whose colours she runs. She could be an outsider of note for Team Mullins with her rider keen to please his childhood friends on this grand stage.
5.30 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup (Amateur Jockeys’)
The key missing piece of Patrick Mullins’ jigsaw at this great meeting is the Kim Muir and he’s made no secret of his burning desire to cross it off the list.
Mr Incredible joined the ranks at Closutton this season having lost his way with Henry De Bromhead. He was second in the Classic Chase at Warwick in January over three-miles-and-five-furlongs and that proven stamina could be an invaluable asset now.