The countdown to the 2016 Cheltenham Festival is almost over and legendary trainer Willie Mullins looks set to dominate proceedings at Prestbury Park.
The multiple Irish champion trainer has surpassed the likes of Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls in terms of quality in recent years and he looks to be taking his strongest group of horses of all time to HQ in March.
All of the handler’s runners demand respect but he looks to have six horses that could destroy the bookmakers over the course of the week.
MIN – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Mullins has dominated the first race of the meeting in recent years and Min will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Champagne Fever, Vautour and Douvan in the Grade One highlight.
Min has long been considered the best of the Irish juvenile hurdlers and his performances so far this season have sent ante post punters into a frenzy.
DOUVAN – Arkle Trophy
Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh were purring at the thought of sending Douvan over fences last year and the 2015 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hero hasn’t put a foot wrong over the larger obstacles this season.
His facile victory in the Irish Arkle was one of the performances of the campaign and it doesn’t look like any of his rivals will be able to live with him at the world’s greatest race meeting.
FAUGHEEN – Champion Hurdle
Hurricane Fly has been the flagbearer for Mullins in recent years but his retirement has been made more bearable by the emergence of Faugheen and the youngster looks set to become one of the greatest hurdler in racing history.
The superstar’s power-packed performance in last year’s Champion Hurdle was arguably the most impressive of the week and he will take some stopping this time around.
ANNIE POWER – Mares’ Hurdle
Annie Power’s dramatic fall in last year’s Mares’ Hurdle might have had the bookmakers mightily relieved but it continues to haunt Cheltenham Festival punters and race fans will want to get their money back when she lines up this time around.
The superstar should be far too good for her rivals (as looked to be the case last year) and she could make amends for her 2015 tumble.
UN DE SCEAUX – Champion Chase
Un De Sceaux’s 2015 Arkle Trophy victory lives long in the memory and Mullins was left jumping for joy when he breezed through Cheltenham’s fences twelve months ago. Ruby Walsh was jubilant after the star’s performance and he could deliver a similarly spectacular performance in this year’s Champion Chase.
VAUTOUR – Ryanair Chase
Vautour is the horse that continues to dominate Cheltenham messageboards and forums and his target at the Festival is open to much debate. The Gold Cup has not been ruled out and the Champion Chase could be tempting, but if he lines up in the Ryanair Chase then there is surely only one winner.
Unlucky not to claim the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, he will be one of the bankers of the week if he takes his chance in the Grade One and it would take a brave man to lay him – whatever the odds.
Guest Editorial from http://www.cheltenhamfestival.net