Un De Sceaux (2015), Douvan (2016) and Footpad (2018) all claimed this Grade One prize en route to winning the Arkle at Cheltenham the following month, while last season’s Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Energumene (2021) also features on the roll of honour for the Mullins team.
The champion trainer appears intent on adding to his tally this weekend, with Appreciate It joined by a quartet of stablemates in Dysart Dynamo, El Fabiolo, Saint Roi and Flame Bearer.
“They’ve all had good wins over fences, so it will be interesting to see them all,” said Mullins senior.
“We were hoping to keep them apart, but they have to go for the prize-money. They’re all owned by different people and we’ll be happy if one of them can win.”
Appreciate It, who memorably landed the 2021 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by 24 lengths, has bolted up over fences at Punchestown and Naas and is the choice of stable jockey Paul Townend.
Danny Mullins partners Dysart Dynamo, a 28-length winner over the course and distance on his chasing debut, while Daryl Jacob is aboard 19-length Fairyhouse scorer El Fabiolo for his retaining owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
The fact that the Mark Walsh-ridden Saint Roi won a Grade One at Leopardstown over Christmas and is widely available to back at double-figure odds is clear evidence of the strength in depth Mullins has at his disposal. Flame Bearer, a dual Grade Two-winning hurdler and the mount of Brian Hayes, is an even bigger price.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, is fascinated to see how the race plays out, but is very much in the Appreciate It camp at this stage.
He said: “The Irish Arkle is probably the most exciting race of the weekend, and that is saying something. It’s the most competitive novice chase I’ve seen for a long, long time.
“We’ve Appreciate It, Dysart Dynamo, Flame Bearer, El Fabiolo and Saint Roi and they all deserve to be there. It is more than likely going to be very hectic, but I’m a big, big fan of Appreciate It and while there are a lot of very, very good horses in the race, I just think he could be the best of them.
“Willie went to walk the track on Thursday and he was very happy with what he saw.
“It’ll be very exciting to watch, there’s sure to be lots of pace but I think that will suit Appreciate It all the more.”
The horse bookmakers feel is most likely to upset the Mullins brigade is Joseph O’Brien’s Banbridge, who impressed in winning an Arkle trial at Cheltenham in November before finishing third in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.
“It looks an outstanding novice chase – all the principals are there,” said O’Brien.
“Banbridge has earned his spot, I think, being a Grade Two winner this year. We’re looking forward to the race and hoping for a good run, too.
“Coming back in trip certainly won’t inconvenience him and I think nicer ground will help as well.”
Peter Fahey’s Visionarian and the Gordon Elliott-trained Fil Dor finished second and third respectively to Saint Roi last month and take him on again.
Fahey said: “He is going to have to improve, but the biggest thing with him – without wanting to put the mockers on him – is his jumping is so quick.
“He seems to be a quick and accurate jumper, which is a definite plus on his side. I think it will be run at a faster pace that it was at Christmas and fingers crossed he runs a big race.”
Connections of Fil Dor are hoping the application of cheekpieces will help him raise his game.
Joey Logan, racing manager to owners Caldwell Construction Ltd, said: “The trip is possibly a bit sharp for him, but he’s in great form.
“He landed on the fence three out the last day and got a bad cut – it just didn’t work out for him.
“We’re putting cheekpieces on him to sharpen him up, so we’ll see how we go.
“It’s a very competitive race and we’ll know where we are afterwards, anyway.”