Cheltenham - At The Races

Willie Mullins Stable Tour

    Willie Mullins is the winning-most trainer at the Cheltenham Festival and his leading lights that could create more history in 2019 include Benie Des Dieux, Laurina, Min and Penhill.
  • Wednesday 20 February 2019
  • Stable Tours

What more can be said about Willie Mullins that hasn’t already been said?

While he has been considered a top trainer for well over two decades, claiming his first Champion Trainer title in 2000/01, it has been since 2007/08 that Mullins has taken his performance to previously unheard of levels.

In February 2013, with over two months of the season remaining, he broke Aidan O’Brien’s record haul of winners in a season of 156 in 1995/6 and eventually went on to record a remarkable total of 193 winners. He bettered that total in 2017/18 with a sensational tally of 212 winners.

Well established as the most successful trainer in the history of the Cheltenham Festival with 61 winners at the big meeting, Mullins has trained a sequence of household names such as Florida Pearl, Hedgehunter, Quevega, Hurricane Fly, Faugheen and Douvan.

As we have become accustomed to, Mullins has a formidable team of horses at his disposal for the upcoming Cheltenham Festival and he talked Kevin Blake of attheraces.com through those who can give him more Festival glory 2019.

Older Horses

Al Boum Photo (FR)

Form Profile:

A 165-rated chaser, he won two of his six starts in novice chases last season including the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival and was set to win the Growise Champion Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival only to run out at the final fence. He made a winning return to action in a Listed chase at Tramore in January.

Trainer Says:

He is likely to run in the Gold Cup. I don’t think the trip will be any problem for him there. We had considered running him in the Red Mills Chase last weekend, but after thinking about, we decided we’d be happy to send him to Cheltenham without another run. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet.

Video Form
24 Apr 2018:
1 Apr 2018:
4 Feb 2018:
26 Dec 2017:
26 Nov 2017:

Aramon (GER)

Form Profile:

A 147-rated hurdler, he has won three of his six starts over hurdles including the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.

Trainer Says:

He will go for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He has kept coming forward all season and has surprised me with how far he has come. He was only just touched off by Klassical Dream at the Dublin Racing Festival, so he’ll go there with his chance.

Video Form
27 Dec 2018:
2 Dec 2018:
11 Nov 2018:
15 Sep 2018:
11 Aug 2018:

Bacardys (FR)

Form Profile:

A 157-rated hurdler, he fell at the last when running well in the Stayers’ Hurdle last season and had every chance when falling at the final fence in a maiden chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.

Trainer Says:

He’ll go for the Stayers’ Hurdle again. He was running very well in the race last year when he fell at the last, so we’ll have another go.

Video Form
28 Dec 2018:
10 Nov 2018:
26 Apr 2018:
28 Dec 2017:
11 Nov 2017:

Ballyward (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Flemensfirth - Ifyoucouldseemenow (Saddlers' Hall)
  • Owner: Andrea & Graham Wylie
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 12 Mar 2019 17:30
  • Result: F/18, held up behind, blundered 5th, headway into mid-division 16th, fell next
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 143-rated hurdler, he made it second-time lucky over fences when winning a Grade 3 novice chase at Naas in January.

Trainer Says:

It looks to be a done deal at this stage that Patrick will ride him in the National Hunt Chase. He wasn’t entered for any of the other novice chases at Cheltenham, so Patrick must have been in charge of the entries that morning!

Video Form
31 Dec 2018:
25 Apr 2018:
28 Jan 2018:
29 Dec 2017:
27 Dec 2016:

Bellshill

Form Profile:

A 169-rated chaser, he very much put it all together when winning the Punchestown Gold Cup at the Punchestown Festival in April and got off the mark this season when winning the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Trainer Says:

The Gold Cup is the plan for him. He stays well and jumps particularly well, which will both really stand to him in a Gold Cup. Cheltenham hasn’t been his luckiest track, but hopefully this will be the year he changes all that. He’s now starting to become the horse we always thought he would be and seems to be putting it all together. We can see improvement in him all the time and I think there is still more to come from him.

Video Form
28 Dec 2018:
25 Apr 2018:
2 Apr 2018:
24 Feb 2018:
12 Feb 2017:

Benie Des Dieux (FR)

Form Profile:

A French import, she has won all five of her starts for Mullins, including the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the Annie Power Mares Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival last season.

Trainer Says:

She’s in good form and will go for the Mares’ Hurdle. The only reason she hasn’t run so far is the ground, she has been fine all season. We were considering running her at Gowran Park last weekend, but she had to get a flu vaccination last week, so that ruled her out of that.

Video Form
18 May 2019:
28 Apr 2018:
10 Feb 2018:
29 Dec 2016:

Blackbow

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Stowaway - Rinnce Moll (Accordion)
  • Owner: Roaringwater Syndicate
  • Last Race: Naas, 9 Nov 2019 12:00
  • Result: 2/25, led, slight mistake 4 out, soon joined, slight mistake 3 out, slight mistake 2 out and soon ridden into narrow lead, joined again bypassing last, headed closing stages and held
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A winning point-to-pointer, he won a Grade 2 bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival and finished second in the Champion Bumper at the Punchestown Festival last season.

Trainer Says:

He had a little setback but is back fine again. He could potentially run in the Grade 1 bumper at the Punchestown Festival and go novice hurdling next season.

Video Form
25 Apr 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
26 Dec 2017:

Blue Sari (FR)

Form Profile:

Made an impressive winning debut in a bumper at Gowran Park in January.

Trainer Says:

We won’t have nearly as big a team for the Champion Bumper this year as we did last year and Blue Sari looks to be the main one. He isn’t a flashy work horse at home. He certainly doesn’t show the sort of pace he showed when winning at Gowran Park. He’s very laid back, a child would ride him, so I wouldn’t have any doubts that he is mentally mature enough to run in a Champion Bumper as a four-year-old.

Carefully Selected

Form Profile:

A winning point-to-pointer, he won two of his four starts in bumpers and finished in the frame in Grade 1 contests at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals last season.

Trainer Says:

I’m disappointed that I didn’t declare him to run at Punchestown today. If I’d known the rain that arrived was going to come, he might well have run. At this stage, I don’t think he’ll make it to Cheltenham. His owner loves the Punchestown Festival and I’d say that will be his target.

Video Form
25 Apr 2018:
25 Feb 2018:
27 Dec 2017:

Cilaos Emery (FR)

Form Profile:

A 159-rated hurdler, he made a successful seasonal and chasing debut in a maiden chase at Gowran Park in January.

Trainer Says:

Cilaos Emery schooled around Navan the other day, but he pulled a muscle there which is why he wasn’t ridden this morning. We’ll have to see what he’s like in the next seven days and if he isn’t back right by then, we’ll have to draw stumps for Cheltenham. That would be disappointing, but there you are.

Video Form
29 Dec 2017:
3 Dec 2017:
25 Apr 2017:
5 Feb 2017:
18 Dec 2016:

Duc Des Genievres (FR)

Form Profile:

A 146-rated hurdler, he made it third-time lucky over fences when winning at Gowran Park last weekend.

Trainer Says:

I was very pleased with his performance at Gowran Park the other day and I’d imagine he’ll go to the Arkle Challenge Trophy now.

Video Form
18 Dec 2018:
27 Apr 2018:
1 Apr 2018:
4 Feb 2018:
7 Jan 2018:

Easy Game (FR)

  • 5-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Barastraight - Rule Of The Game (Lavirco)
  • Owner: Wicklow Bloodstock(Ireland)Ltd
  • Last Race: Fairyhouse, 12 Nov 2019 11:55
  • Result: 2/5, held up in 4th, headway into 3rd at 7th, improved into 2nd 3 out, ridden 2 out, no impression on winner before last, kept on same pace inside final furlong
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 143-rated hurdler, he has won four of his six starts over hurdles this season including the Navan Novice Hurdle in December on his latest start.

Trainer Says:

It looks like he’ll go for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. We freshened him up after his last season as he has been busy through the summer and he seems in good order now.

Video Form
16 Dec 2018:
25 Nov 2018:
7 Oct 2018:
12 Sep 2018:
30 Jul 2018:

Faugheen

Form Profile:

A 169-rated hurdler, he has won 13 of his 19 career starts over hurdles, winning two Grade 1 races last seasons after returning from almost two years off.

Trainer Says:

He is on track for the Stayers’ Hurdle and he seems to be in great form. Ruby hadn’t stirred on him when he fell at the second-last behind Apple’s Jade at Leopardstown last time, so I don’t know what would have happened. Ruby was very confident that he hadn’t asked him any sort of a question at the time. He was very, very sore after it. I was very worried about him afterwards and am delighted that he has come back as well as he has.

Video Form
28 Dec 2018:
18 Nov 2018:
26 Apr 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
29 Dec 2017:

Footpad (FR)

Form Profile:

A 165-rated chaser, he created an exceptional impression in winning all five of his starts over fences last season, most notably in the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival. Having fallen on his seasonal reappearance at Naas, he finished second to Simply Ned in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.

Trainer Says:

Footpad would have the option of either the Champion Chase or the Ryanair and that is a decision that is likely to be made late. Based on his pedigree and his form, running over the longer trip shouldn’t be any problem for him. It’s been a tough season for him as he has come back from his both of his runs this season with overreaches that have interrupted his preparation. That is an issue that we hadn’t had with him prior to this season, so we’ve been riding him and working him without hind shoes since his last run and that seems to have helped. He schooled very well without them at Navan the other day and seemed much more like the Footpad of last season. Hopefully that’s a good sign that he’s coming back to himself. We are likely to consider running him without hind shoes at Cheltenham.

Video Form
27 Dec 2018:
10 Nov 2018:
26 Apr 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
26 Dec 2017:

Invitation Only (IRE)

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Flemensfirth - Norabelle (Alamo Bay)
  • Owner: Andrea & Graham Wylie
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 15 Mar 2019 15:30
  • Result: F/16, led until 2nd, led 3rd until 4th, with leader, mistake 5th, fell 10th
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 162-rated chaser, he produced an improved effort to win the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January.

Trainer Says:

The Gold Cup is the plan for him at the moment. He’ll have to improve to come up to that level, but we’ll give him his chance to come up to it. Sometimes horses can lose their way for a little while and then come right back to themselves after a while, so hopefully he’s one of those that can kick on from here.

Video Form
24 Apr 2018:
1 Apr 2018:
4 Feb 2018:
13 Jan 2018:
9 Dec 2017:

Kemboy (FR)

Form Profile:

A 167-rated chaser, he has shown significant improvement this season, winning the Clonmel Oil Chase and the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

Trainer Says:

He is being aimed at the Gold Cup and I think his chance might boil down to what the ground is like. He put up a huge performance at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting on good ground and that suits him very well. Trip wise, I think he’ll be better the further he goes. We wouldn’t really have foreseen him becoming a Gold Cup contender, but he sort of jumped out at us at Leopardstown where David gave him a very brave ride that paid off. The improvement he has shown on the track hasn’t really been evident here at home, but maybe the longer trips and riding him differently has been the key.

Video Form
28 Dec 2018:
15 Nov 2018:
27 Apr 2018:
12 Apr 2018:
2 Apr 2018:

Klassical Dream (FR)

Form Profile:

A 148-rated hurdler, he acquired plenty of experience as a juvenile hurdler when trained in France and has won both his starts since joining Mullins including the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Trainer Says:

He’s going to be a tricky one to make a decision on, as he could go for either the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle or the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. He’s a very good jumper will a lot of experience, but I think ultimately he’ll want to go further than two miles. He has always shown us plenty and I think he will improve again.

Video Form
26 Dec 2018:

Laurina (FR)

  • 6-y-o; bay mare
  • Breeding: Spanish Moon - Lamboghina (Alkalde)
  • Owner: Sullivan Bloodstock Limited
  • Last Race: Gowran Park, 23 Nov 2019 14:45
  • Result: Won/10, tracked leaders, jumped well, 2nd 4 out, improved to lead travelling well 3 out, went clear before last, stayed on strongly run-in, eased, impressive
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 155-rated hurdler, she has impressed in winning all five of her starts for Willie Mullins by wide margins. She made a winning seasonal reappearance in a Listed mares hurdle at Sandown in January.

Trainer Says:

She runs at Punchestown today. It isn’t ideal to run her so soon after getting a flu vaccination, but we had this race in mind for her for ages and after getting a bit of rain last night, we are keen to run. We’ll know more about where she is after today. We’ve always thought she was a very good mare and hopefully she’ll go and show it. Her temperament has changed dramatically since last season. Back then, you’d wouldn’t pass too close to the front of her stable as she’d come out over it at you. She’d get upset when anyone went into box and didn’t really want anyone in there. You’d nearly want a bodyguard to go in with you to her! She has settled down a lot this season though, which I find fascinating. We haven’t changed anything with her, so she might just have matured.

Video Form
1 Apr 2018:
27 Jan 2018:
14 Dec 2017:

Melon (GB)

Form Profile:

A 163-rated hurdler, he finished a close second in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last season. He has been below his best in his two starts this season.

Trainer Says:

I’m very happy with him at the minute. We have our own reasons why we think he disappointed in the Irish Champion Hurdle and we are going to change a few things for Cheltenham that will hopefully help him. I don’t want to go into what those things are just yet, but we have a few ideas. I know Buveur D’Air’s connections think that he is better than he was on Champion Hurdle day last season, but I’d be hopeful Melon can be better than he was that day too.

Video Form
18 May 2019:
29 Dec 2018:
27 Apr 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
3 Nov 2017:

Min (FR)

Form Profile:

A 167-rated chaser, he has won the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase and the Dublin Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival this season.

Trainer Says:

Min could run in either the Champion Chase or the Ryanair and I’ll be leaving that decision until much closer to the time. That decision will be guided by a lot of things such as the ground, what the opposition are doing and what Ruby wants to ride.

Video Form
9 Dec 2018:
24 Apr 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
27 Dec 2017:
25 Nov 2017:

Penhill (GB)

Form Profile:

A 165-rated hurdler, he has won seven of his 11 starts over hurdles including the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last season.

Trainer Says:

It has always been the plan to send him to the Stayers’ Hurdle without a prep race. He is in good shape. He went away to work yesterday and that went well. It’s a day-to-day thing with him. He’ll always be one that you are paying particular attention to every day to make sure he is OK. He has a few more searching bits of work to get through in the next fortnight, but it’s a case of so far so good.

Video Form
26 Apr 2018:
26 Apr 2017:
29 Dec 2016:

Real Steel (FR)

Form Profile:

A 140-rated hurdler, he made it second-time lucky over fences when winning a maiden chase at Fairyhouse in January.

Trainer Says:

I have declared him to run in a rated chase at Thurles tomorrow, as he has to have a third run over fences to qualify for the novices’ handicap chase at Cheltenham. If he wins, he’ll probably be rated too high to get into that and will probably end up in the JLT Novices’ Chase instead, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Video Form
27 Dec 2018:
27 Apr 2018:
1 Apr 2018:
4 Feb 2018:
27 Dec 2017:

Relegate

  • 6-y-o; bay mare
  • Breeding: Flemensfirth - Last Of The Bunch (Silver Patriarch)
  • Owner: Paul McKeon
  • Last Race: Leopardstown, 2 Feb 2019 12:50
  • Result: 5/16, waited with, soon towards rear, not fluent 3rd, soon last and not always fluent jumping, headway into mid-division from before straight and no impression, kept on well without threatening final furlong
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Winner of three of her four starts in bumpers last season including the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, she has won one of her three starts over hurdles this season.

Trainer Says:

We are looking at the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle with her. I was very disappointed with her last run at Leopardstown. Maybe the ground wasn’t soft enough for her, but she’ll need to do much more than that to compete at Cheltenham again. Hopefully she’ll come alive when she gets back there.

Video Form
18 Dec 2018:
18 Nov 2018:
25 Apr 2018:
4 Feb 2018:
13 Jan 2018:

Sharjah (FR)

Form Profile:

A 163-rated hurdler, he has shown significant improvement this season to win the Galway Hurdle, the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown and the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Trainer Says:

He has been a nice surprise this season and has improved out of all recognition. He’s probably now become what we thought he was going to be halfway through his novice hurdle season. He’s on target for the Champion Hurdle.

Video Form
29 Dec 2018:
18 Nov 2018:
2 Nov 2018:
14 Oct 2018:
15 Sep 2018:

Tornado Flyer

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Flemensfirth - Mucho Macabi (Exceed and Excel)
  • Owner: T F P Partnership
  • Last Race: Navan, 7 Dec 2019 14:10
  • Result: Won/5, soon raced in 3rd, 2nd approaching 4 out and closed, under pressure and switched left approaching 2 out where squeezed for room, led run-in and stayed on best
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A Grade 1-bumper winner last season, he made a winning hurdling debut at Punchestown in December, but was pulled up on his only start since in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Naas.

Trainer Says:

He had a setback a couple of weeks ago and while he is back sound, Cheltenham will come too soon for him.

Video Form
9 Dec 2018:
25 Apr 2018:
14 Jan 2018:

Un De Sceaux (FR)

Form Profile:

A 168-rated chaser, he is an eight-time Grade 1 winner over fences that ran very well when second to Altior in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in December.

Trainer Says:

This has been a tough season for Un De Sceaux. He wants really heavy ground, perhaps even more so than before now that he is that bit older, but he hasn’t got anything like that all season which is why he has only run once. All his enthusiasm is definitely still there. He actually did a piece of work yesterday that was better than anything he’s done all winter, so he seems to be coming right at the right time. He just needs some rain now. We’ll be dictated to by the weather and what other horses are doing, but the Ryanair would look to be the race for him.

Video Form
24 Apr 2018:
2 Apr 2018:
20 Jan 2018:
10 Dec 2017:
25 Apr 2017:

Uradel (GER)

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Kallisto - Unavita (Vettori)
  • Owner: Luke McMahon
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 13 Mar 2019 14:50
  • Result: 7/25, mid-division, driven to chase leaders after 2 out, ridden before last, kept on, never pace to get on terms
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 133-rated hurdler, he found improvement on the Flat in 2018 and has shaped well in a couple of valuable handicap hurdles, most notably the Ladbrokes Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival on his latest start.

Trainer Says:

He has been entered in a couple of handicap hurdles at Cheltenham and is in good form. We’ll pick a target for him closer to the time after we see the weights.

Video Form
4 Nov 2018:
29 Aug 2018:
4 Aug 2018:
30 Jul 2018:
17 Apr 2018: