Willie Mullins’ best Festival chances
Posted in: Cheltenham Festival News
9. Billaway (Festival Hunter Chase, Friday) - General price: 3/1
Billaway finished runner-up in the Festival Hunter Chase at last year's meeting and, having looked better than ever in Ireland this season, is clearly entitled to plenty of respect. He was beaten ten lengths by It Came To Pass at Cheltenham last year, however, and has not yet produced a better performance than that rival. His jumping is a concern and he won last time despite making several fiddly mistakes. Such errors may prove costly in the cut-and-thrust of a big-field event over Cheltenham's stiff fences, so he looks vulnerable.
Festival runner-up Billaway proves too strong in the Naas Hunters Chase for the second year in a row under Patrick Mullins, landing the finale for Willie Mullins at @NaasRacecourse pic.twitter.com/gtuNOzrRj4
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 31, 2021
8. Al Boum Photo (Cheltenham Gold Cup, Friday) - 11/4
Winning two Cheltenham Gold Cups is a great accomplishment but Al Boum Photo has not shown a level of form you would associate with a great of the sport. Things went perfectly for him in last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup, in which he secured a good position in a race run at a modest tempo, but he was ultimately all out to fend off Santini, demonstrating that he is a tough, top-class chaser but probably not an outstanding one. Al Boum Photo is Timeform's highest-rated staying chaser in training but his figure of 172 does not set a daunting standard, and in Champ (166p) and A Plus Tard (169) there are some interesting up-and-comers on the scene.
The first back-to-back winner since Best Mate!
Al Boum Photo is the hero once again in a thrilling @MagnersUK Cheltenham Gold Cup under a fine @PTownend ride.
A race that promised much, and a race that very much delivered #CheltenhamFestival pic.twitter.com/o3UkpGQoF1
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 13, 2020
7. Appreciate It (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Tuesday) - 7/4
No novice hurdler has achieved a higher Timeform rating this season than Appreciate It, who earned a figure of 148p when a hugely impressive winner of the Future Champions Novices' Hurdle at Leopardstown in December. He was more workmanlike when following up at the Dublin Racing Festival, however, and is only 1 lb clear of wide-margin Tolworth Hurdle winner Metier on ratings. Appreciate It will probably need to improve again if he is to maintain his dominance over the division in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, but he has always shaped like a horse with plenty of stamina, so he may not be seen at his very best until stepping up in trip. He is the most likely winner of the Supreme but looks short enough around the 7/4 mark.
⭐️ Appreciate It - the real deal
🏇 Three runs over hurdles
🥇 Three wins
🏆 Dual Grade One winner
✅ Supreme favourite
All class from Appreciate It who captures the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle for @WillieMullinsNH & @PTownend at @LeopardstownRC#DublinRacingFestival pic.twitter.com/yvzE9S57ej
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 7, 2021
6. Kilcruit (Champion Bumper, Wednesday) - 7/4
Kilcruit shaped with lot of promise when runner-up on his only start for Tony Mullins last season and he has quickly developed into one of the best bumper performers of recent years since joining Willie Mullins. Kilcruit didn't need to come off the bridle to make a winning start for the yard at Navan in December and he then looked very special when landing the Grade 2 Future Stars Bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival, catching the eye with how he motored past his rivals under a motionless Patrick Mullins. That earned him a Timeform rating of 124p, which is 1 lb higher than Ferny Hollow achieved in last season's Champion Bumper, so he is clearly the one to beat at Cheltenham. However, there are two points to consider before getting stuck in at a short price. Firstly, that Leopardstown bumper was run at an overly-strong pace so the 12-length margin may have exaggerated his superiority. Secondly, he faces a rival in Sir Gerhard (118p) who has looked extremely promising in his own right.
🚨 What have we just seen at Leopardstown
😍 An incredible performance from Kilcruit who absolutely dots up to capture Grade Two honours to remain unbeaten for Patrick & @WillieMullinsNH at @LeopardstownRC pic.twitter.com/lBKVxdmdlw
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 6, 2021
5. Gaillard du Mesnil (Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Wednesday) - 3/1
Gaillard du Mesnil was beaten on his first start for Willie Mullins after arriving from France – he finished an encouraging second to Holymacapony at Punchestown – but he has registered two hugely impressive victories at Leopardstown since, including in Grade 1 company at the Dublin Racing Festival. Gaillard du Mesnil (142p) will face some promising rivals in the Ballymore, most notably Bob Olinger (140p) and Bravemansgame (146p), but he looks the likely winner based on how much he seemingly had left in the tank last time. Gaillard du Mesnil, who settled better than previously in a first-time hood, made smooth headway and readily drew five lengths clear of a strong field, clocking a good time in the process. He is a novice of some potential.
⭐️ He looks the real deal
🏆 €250,000 purchase Gaillard Du Mesnil makes it 2-3 for @WillieMullinsNH with victory in the Grade One Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle under @PTownend in the opener of the Dublin Racing Festival at @LeopardstownRC pic.twitter.com/4WjMam0lpG
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 6, 2021
4. Elimay (Mares’ Chase, Friday) - 2/1
Elimay won her first couple of starts over fences last season with the minimum of fuss but she produced an even better effort in defeat when runner-up at Thurles last month. Elimay had a tough task in the Grade 2 Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase against stablemate Allaho, but she ran a cracker to get within three lengths of that potentially top-class rival. Allaho set a strong tempo that quickly proved too much for most, but Elimay kept in touch and pulled a long way clear of the remainder. The rating of 159 she earned on that occasions sets a clear standard – for context, stablemate Colreevy is rated 147p – and Elimay further underlined her wellbeing with a decisive victory in a listed race at Naas last time.
👏 What a likeable mare
Elimay easily lands Listed honours in the @BBAIreland Limited Opera Hat Mares Chase, completing a double for @WillieMullinsNH & Mark Walsh at @NaasRacecourse
🏆 She looks a leading player for the new Mrs Paddy Power Mares Chase at @CheltenhamRaces pic.twitter.com/UsLfDmRnss
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 13, 2021
3. Concertista (Mares’ Hurdle, Tuesday) - 11/10
Concertista's task in the Mares' Hurdle has been made significantly easier by connections of Honeysuckle deciding to reroute their star mare to the Champion Hurdle. The progressive Concertista, who won the Mares' Novices' Hurdle by 12 lengths last year, will now head Timeform ratings and should prove difficult to beat. She barely needed to come off the bridle to pass Minella Melody at Fairyhouse on her reappearance and then proved better than ever when beating the same rival by a wider margin at Leopardstown in December. That is the best form on offer, she is on a sharp upward curve and has shown her effectiveness at Cheltenham, so her claims are obvious.
Runner-up last year, Concertista bolts up in the Daylesford Mares' Novices' Hurdle.
Five runnings of this race, five victories for Willie Mullins! #CheltenhamFestival @Dazjacob10 pic.twitter.com/tT1ULvc9rC
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 12, 2020
2. Monkfish (RSA Chase, Wednesday) - 8/11
Monkfish progressed sharply over hurdles last season and knuckled down well to win a strong renewal of the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle. A tall, raw type, Monkfish always looked likely to improve as he matured physically and gained extra experience, and he has raised his game to new heights since going over fences, winning all three outings and showing the attributes of a top-class chaser. He was especially impressive when landing the Flogas Novices' Chase by 11 lengths at the Dublin Racing Festival and that is a much stronger piece of form than anything his likely rivals have achieved. He is a hugely exciting prospect and can maintain his unbeaten record over fences.
🐴 Monkfish, Appreciate It, Kilcruit, Al Boum Photo . . .
They all feature in our Willie Mullins Cheltenham Festival Stable Tour, along with a dark horse for the Champion Hurdle. "I was delighted to see he’s 167 on English ratings, so that puts him in there with a shot" 👇
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 22, 2021
1. Chacun Pour Soi (Champion Chase, Wednesday) - 4/5
Chacun Pour Soi is Timeform's highest-rated horse in training – he has a lofty figure of 176p – and he proved as good as ever when retaining his Dublin Chase crown last time. Chacun Pour Soi breezed through that Grade 1, showing all his trademark exuberance, and he quickly settled matters when bursting to the front in a matter of strides on the approach to the last, needing just a hands-and-heels ride to score by eight lengths. He clocked an excellent time, just as he did when winning over the same course and distance in December, and his record since joining Mullins is that of an outstanding talent. He missed last year's Champion Chase after he was found to have a foot abscess on the morning of the race, but he can gain compensation this time. He should easily brush these rivals aside.
Chacun Pour Soi - some talent
🏇 7 runs for @WillieMullinsNH
🥇 6 wins
🏆🏆 Ladbrokes Dublin Chase
🏆 Paddy's Rewards Club Chase
🏆 Ryanair Novice Chase
🏆 Hilly Way Chase
Successive wins in the Dublin Chase for Chacun Pour Soi under @PTownend @LeopardstownRC pic.twitter.com/M8tGUs8pBz
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 6, 2021
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