Willie Mullins Stable Tour

Willie Mullins
Willie Mullins

Adventskalendar

by Justin O’Hanlon

We hadn’t even got on to those beginning with B, but had already spoken about a dual Cheltenham Gold Cup hero, a Grade 1-winning novice hurdler who started favourite for the Supreme, the Champion Bumper runner-up and the RSA third.

If one needed reminding of the calibre of horses currently residing in Closutton, the A-team did just that. Al Boum Photo, Asterion Forlonge, Appreciate It and Allaho were the ones I was talking about in the previous paragraph, but Annamix is not too bad either and Acapella Bourgeois is rated 156. There cannot be a better crop of As anywhere else.

The talent does not stop there either, it’s only the beginning.

During these unprecedented times, there’s something so soothing about listening to Willie Mullins talk through his team. The star names rolling off his tongue, each one with seemingly more to offer than the last. He has already been Ireland’s champion trainer 14 times and it’s going to take something extraordinary from Gordon Elliott to thwart title number 15.

Al Boum Photo will be out to emulate Arkle and Best Mate next March in trying to win three Cheltenham Gold Cups. You know the drill by now; he will ring in the new year at Tramore before his date with destiny in the Cotswolds on March 19.

Mullins admits that he would love to call upon his services earlier in the campaign, but is afraid to upset the apple cart.

„As much as I would love to run him earlier in the season, our goal is the Gold Cup in March and we know how to get him there in the best possible shape,“ said the champion trainer.

Sharjah got closest to Epatante in last season’s Champion Hurdle, but Mullins looks much stronger in that department now with Saint Roi and Saldier to call upon.

Chacun Pour Soi was denied the chance to end Mullins‘ hoodoo in the Champion Chase due to a late setback, but all roads lead back to the Wednesday feature at the festival, while Ryanair winner Min is reported to be in rude health and on course for a hat-trick attempt in the John Durkan at Punchestown next month.

Mullins was responsible for the first two home in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper as Ferny Hollow pounced late to deny Appreciate It, so the novice hurdling team looks strong, while Albert Bartlett winner Monkfish captains a top-class team of novice chasers.

Unexcepted produced an exceptional chasing debut at Tipperary last month, while Lord Royal, Klassical Dream, Elixir D’ainay and Janidil are other classy recruits to the chasing game.

An autumn scene at Willie Mullins' powerful Closutton stable
An autumn scene at Willie Mullins‘ powerful Closutton stable, Photo: Patrick McCann

Burrows Saint is being aimed at the Grand National, while there are a whole host of young recruits from France. Oh, and Faugheen is still about the place too. There could be one last hurrah to come from the Peter Pan of jump racing.

Even Anne Robinson would struggle to find the weakest link here. The stage is set for another cracking campaign.


Race in focus

The Queen Mother Champion Chase is one race that has eluded us so far. We thought we had a big chance of ending the hoodoo with Chacun Pour Soi in March, but he missed the race at the last minute which was very unfortunate. We have some unfinished business with him in that race and I’m looking forward to getting back there.

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Rival to watch

I have to say I loved the way Latest Exhibition learned his trade as he went along at Punchestown. That was only his chasing debut and I think there could be huge improvement to come from him over fences. He’s a horse I like a lot and I thought he ran a big race in the Albert Bartlett to get so close to Monkfish.


Stable profile

Yard Closutton, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow
Started training 1987
Horses in yard 180
Members of staff 65
Assistant trainers Patrick Mullins, David Casey, Ruby Walsh
Head men Dick Dowling, John Codd
Travelling head lad Ben Delmer
Gallop man Paddy Dowling
Jockeys Paul Townend, David Mullins, Danny Mullins, Brian Hayes, Rachael Blackmore
Conditional Conor McNamara
Amateurs Patrick Mullins, Jody Townend, Richie Deegan, Ruth Dudfield, Aubrey McMahon
Secretary Jo Sharp
Office administrator Matthew Hogan
Accountant John Dunne
Website wpmullins.com
Twitter @WillieMullinsNH


Winners in Ireland

2019-20 166
2018-19 207
2017-18 212
2016-17 180
2015-16 185


Profit/loss to €1 stake

2019-20 -137.86
2018-19 -169.99
2017-18 -80.97
2016-17 -27.58
2015-16 +14.33


Total prize-money 2019-20

€3,935,318


Horses:

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPRSTUVY

Acapella Bourgeois
Ten-year-old gelding
Network (sire) – Jasmine (dam)
Owner: Slaneyville Syndicate
Form figures: 3/00261-
Racing Post Rating: 164c Official Rating: 156c

The Porterstown Chase is worth a lot of money this year, so that could be a nice place to start later on this month. He was good in the Bobbyjo at Fairyhouse when you last saw him. He’s back in training and in good form. I might even try to find a little conditions race for him before the Porterstown if I can.

Aione
7g Coastal Path – La Horquela
Mrs S Ricci
12110-
RPR 143h OR 138h

He won’t be out until the second half of the season, so we will keep him over hurdles when he does reappear. We’ll wait until next season to go chasing.

Allaho
6g No Risk At All – Idaho Falls
Cheveley Park Stud
13-2213
RPR 164c OR 157c

The way he travels and jumps tells me shorter trips might be his thing this season. We’ll see how he copes with that line of thinking and he could end up in the Ryanair in the spring.


Star quality

Al Boum Photo
8g Buck’s Boum – Al Gane
Mrs J Donnelly
O/11/211-
RPR 178c OR 175c

Roll on Tramore! We’ll stick to the tried and tested approach and start him back on New Year’s Day in the same race he’s won for the last two years. As much as I would love to run him earlier in the season, our goal is the Gold Cup in March and we know how to get him there is the best possible shape. He’s working away and doing fast work at the moment. We’ll give him a little breather before upping it again and getting him ready for Tramore. He’s actually quite an unremarkable horse to look at. You would never pick him out from a group of horses in the field, but all I know is that he has the right type of engine you need for the Gold Cup.

Al Boum Photo: Cheltenham Gold Cup winner on the gallops
Al Boum Photo: Cheltenham Gold Cup winner on the gallops, Photo: Patrick McCann

Andalusa
5m Martaline – Cadix
Lansdowne Partnership
1-31133
RPR 140c OR 133c

She’s very sharp over the shortest trip and loves jumping. I’m not sure she’s a real winter-type mare, so we’ll give her a little break now as she’s been busy. You won’t see her when there is soft in the going description.

Annamix
7g Martaline – Tashtiyana
Mrs S Ricci
2/21/41-
RPR 132h, 154c

He’s in great shape and ready to go. He has always shown me so much at home and he’s showing me just as much as he always did. I wouldn’t mind stretching him out to two and a half miles. We’ll look for a winners-of-one or second-season novice chase for him. He’s ready for action.

Appreciate It
6g Jeremy – Sainte Baronne
Miss M A Masterson
3112-
RPR 138b

Looking at the way he gallops, you would have to say he looks a real jumping type. He’s a smashing chaser in the making, but it will obviously be novice hurdling for him this season. He ran a big race to finish second to Ferny Hollow in the bumper at Cheltenham and I would say staying trips will be his thing.

Aslukwoodhavit
5g Yourgunnabelucky – She’s The Lady
Roger Brookhouse
Unraced

A nice type who I’m looking forward to seeing in a bumper. You’ll see him shortly.

Asterion Forlonge
6g Coastal Path – Belle Du Brizais
Mrs J Donnelly
1114
RPR 156h OR 155h

He surprised me last season in that I didn’t think he would be able to win Grade 1s over two miles. Then, given he had won a Grade 1 over two miles at Leopardstown, we stuck to that trip at Cheltenham in the Supreme. He jumped out to his right there, but going over further might help his jumping over fences. He’s going to be a nice novice chaser over two and a half miles plus.

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Bacardys
9g Coastal Path – Oasice
Shanakiel Racing Syndicate
6/21243-
RPR 159h OR 155h

He just doesn’t seem to be a chaser, so we’ll stick to hurdles. He ran well enough again in the Stayers‘ Hurdle and deserves another go in that.

Bachasson
9g Voix Du Nord – Belledonne
Edward O’Connell
F/14/361-
RPR 149h, 165c OR 148h

The break really suited this guy. He’s come back to me very strong. We will try to find Grade 2s and 3s for him over fences, as Grade 1s are just above him. We entered him up in the Clonmel Oil Chase on Thursday and he could show up there.

Bapaume
7g Turtle Bowl – Brouhaha
Mrs S Ricci
427168-
RPR 147c OR 150c

I’m very happy with how he came out of his extended break. He’s a very good jumper and I could see him developing into quite a nice staying chaser this season.

Benie Des Dieux
9m Great Pretender – Cana
Mrs S Ricci
1/F-1112
RPR 162h, 147c OR 162h, 147c

She’s had a training setback, so you won’t get to see her until the second half of the season. It’s nothing major at all, but she’s one I want to mind rather than rush. She’s a big unit and a lot easier to keep sound over hurdles, but we will certainly be giving strong consideration to the new mares‘ chase at Cheltenham in March.

Benie Des Dieux has the new mares' chase at Cheltenham among her options
Benie Des Dieux has the new mares‘ chase at Cheltenham among her options, Photo: Patrick McCann

Berkshire Royal
5g Sir Percy – Forest Express
Andy Bell & Fergus Lyons
0-
RPR 78h

He was disappointing on his first try over hurdles, but, then again, it was in the Supreme. I’ve no doubt he will make his mark this season and will start off in a maiden hurdle.

Blackbow
7g Stowaway – Rinnce Moll
Roaringwater Syndicate
52/2F42-
RPR 139h OR 140h

We’ll put away his hurdling career and go chasing. If things don’t work out, he can always go back and try to win that maiden hurdle that has eluded him so far. You’ll see him over a fence sooner rather than later and he should do better at this game.

Blazer
9g Network – Juppelongue
John P McManus
40-7437
RPR 147c OR 137c

He’s been disappointing. We gave him a break after the Kerry National. He’s a horse who looks like he wants longer trips nowadays. There could be a nice handicap in him one day.

Blue Sari
5g Saddex – Blue Aster
John P McManus
12/14P-
RPR 122h

He’s good and his Cheltenham bumper form looks exceptionally good now. We’re aiming to have him back on the track for Christmas and he will be kept over hurdles.

Billaway
8g Well Chosen – Taipans Girl
J Turner
312/212-
RPR 142c OR 135c

I thought his inexperience showed at Cheltenham. We’ll get lots more experience into him before he goes back for the Foxhunter. It’s well within his capabilities to lift the nicest trophy on offer at Cheltenham for his game owner John Turner.

Bon Retour
5m Fame And Glory – Rosy De Cyborg
J T Ennis
7P3-134
RPR 134h OR 130h

A nice mare bought from France. She won at Galway and has been a little disappointing since, so we’ve given her a little break. We’ll come back over a longer trip next month. She’ll jump fences in the future.

Brahma Bull
9g Presenting – Oligarch Society
Mrs S Ricci
6/12161-
RPR 148c OR 148c

It will be the staying chase route for him. He’s in that tricky position with a rating of 148 – he’s probably not good enough for Grade 1s, but rated too high for handicaps. Hopefully, his extended break will have brought about further improvement and he’s going well at home.

Brandy Love
4f Jet Away – Bambootcha
Mike Grech
1- (point form)
RPR 90p

She’s by Jet Away, a sire I like who seems to be making a name for himself. She won her point nicely at Cragmore and will go for a mares‘ bumper now.

Brooklynn Glory
5m Fame And Glory – Clamit Brook
Swords Bloodstock Limited
11
RPR 128b

She certainly looks a cut above the average. What she did on very soft ground the other day at Cork puts her in the top league of bumper performers. There’s a good possibility she could travel across the water later in the season.

Buildmeupbuttercup
6m Sixties Icon – Eastern Paramour
J Turner
254-511
RPR 148h OR 143h

A very consistent type. She will go for Listed mares‘ hurdle at Punchestown later this month. She’s had a busy season and has been taking her connections to all the top festivals. She’s a real pleasure to own. There’s a major handicap in her.

Burning Victory
4f Nathaniel – M’Oubliez Pas
Mrs Audrey Turley
11-
RPR 140h OR 144h

We’ve had our own share of bad luck at Cheltenham, so we’ll take what happened in the Triumph. She was very novicey at Cheltenham and the experience she gained there will stand her in good stead. I fully expect her to be a Grade 1 mare this season. She could be a big player in mares‘ races. The Mares‘ Hurdle at Cheltenham will be her main target this season. She would stay two and a half miles every day of the week.

Burrows Saint
7g Saint Des Saints – La Bombonera
Mrs S Ricci
111/531
RPR 157c OR 156c

All roads lead to Aintree for the Grand National after his brilliant Irish Grand National win. That sort of test should be right up his street.


Cabaret Queen
8m King’s Theatre – La Dame Brune
Syndicates.Racing
PF00-31
RPR 149c OR 142c

She surprised me when winning the Kerry National at Listowel as I wasn’t sure she would be able to do it on that ground with that weight. Rather than running in handicaps with a big weight, we’re going to run her in Grade 2s and 3s and see if she can make an impact in those sort of events. She will be aimed at the new mares‘ chase at Cheltenham. She can come back in trip given her method of jumping.

Carfax
5g Robin Des Champs – June Monsoon
Jon Aisbitt
F- (point form)
RPR 73p

A real, big chasing type, who we’ll try to win a bumper with. You won’t see the very best of him until he goes over fences.

Captain Kangaroo
5g Mastercraftsman – We Can Say It Now
Kanga Racing & Brett Graham Syndicate
1-
RPR 127b

He looked good when winning his bumper at Clonmel just before lockdown. He’s a nice horse who goes hurdling.

Carefully Selected
8g Well Chosen – Knockamullen Girl
Miss M A Masterson
1/3111U
RPR 154c OR 152c

He’s another horse who needs to improve to get up into Grade 1s, but I think he could. He’s a real old-fashioned chaser. He was far too keen in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham. We’ll come back in trip with him and that could bring about the necessary improvement to make the step up to the top level.

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Cash Back
8g Linda’s Lad – Holding
Watch This Space Syndicate
2/5112F-
RPR 157c OR 156c

Things didn’t go according to plan in the Arkle, but he had been very good over fences prior to that. He should be stronger this season and we’ll keep him to the minimum trip.

Castlebawn West
7g Westerner – Cooksgrove Lady
Mrs R Boyd, Mrs M J Armstrong & J B Anderson
4-6514U
RPR 151c OR 147c

I’ve been very happy with how he’s taking his training this season. We’ll have a look at some of the nice staying chases for him. He was in the process of running a nice race in the RSA when he came down.


Star quality

Chacun Pour Soi unfinished business at Cheltenham
Chacun Pour Soi unfinished business at Cheltenham, Photo: Alan Crowhurst

Chacun Pour Soi
8g Policy Maker – Kruscyna
Mrs S Ricci
53/1/121-
RPR 175c OR 171c

It was obviously disappointing that he picked up a small injury on the morning of the Champion Chase, but that’s the way it goes and you have to take those things on the chin. We’ll have to look at putting that right this season. We’ve got some unfinished business to take care of at Cheltenham. He’s back in training and is fit and well. The obvious place for him to start would be the John Durkan at Punchestown, but I will probably leave it until Leopardstown at Christmas and take the same route to Cheltenham as last season. He’s really well at the moment.


Ciel De Neige
5g Authorized – In Caso Di Neve
John P McManus
53/4220-
RPR 140h OR 138h
He’s yet to win, so we’ll find a maiden hurdle for him. He should be difficult to beat in one of those with his rating. He’ll go down the novice hurdle route.

Cilaos Emery
8g Califet – Queissa
Luke McMahon
1/11F14-
RPR 160h, 166c OR 158h, 163c

He was fourth in the Champion Hurdle, but he’ll resume his chasing career now. I think two miles or two and a half is fine for him and he could return in the Clonmel Oil Chase on Thursday.

Class Conti
8g Poliglote – Gazelle Lulu
Simon Munir & Isaac Souede
P/1/P5F2-
RPR 129h, 154c OR 142h,147c

He will be aimed at the Grand National and will mix it between hurdles and chases in the meantime.

Colreevy
7m Flemensfirth – Poetics Girl
Mrs N Flynn
3/12125-
RPR 134h OR 135h

She’s a fine, big, strong mare. She’s the type of mare you would buy if you wanted to have a proper chaser and she goes novice chasing. She likes her racing and we’ll probably start her off over two miles and see how it goes from there. I wouldn’t be afraid to go further with her.

Concertista
6m Nathaniel – Zagzig
Simon Munir & Isaac Souede
2/4331
RPR 147h OR 148h

I have to admit I was surprised I was bringing her back to Cheltenham for a second time without having won over hurdles. I thought after she ran so well in the mares‘ novice hurdle the previous year, she would win a few novice hurdles. She chose the big day to open her account over hurdles and it will be back to Cheltenham in March for the Mares‘ Hurdle.


Dandy Mag
7g Special Kaldoun – Naiade Mag
Grant Mercer & Mrs Caren Walsh
3/15450-
RPR 139h, 134c OR 135h

I wouldn’t be afraid to go back hurdling with him. He’ll mix it between hurdling and chasing.

Douvan
10g Walk In The Park – Star Face
Mrs S Ricci
117/F2/1-
RPR 178c OR 167c

It’s looking like it will be the second half of the season when we get him back out. Hopefully, we can get a few runs into him before the big spring festivals to get a gauge on where he’s at.


Easy Game
6g Barastraight – Rule Of The Game
Nicholas Peacock
2F-0112
RPR 166c OR 160c

He just wasn’t in love with track at Down Royal and wants nicer ground anyway. He’ll head to Leopardstown and then onto the spring festivals.

Eight And Bob
7g Big Bad Bob – Mare Nostrum
Act D Wagg Syndicate
0/P100-0
RPR 138h OR 136h

He does have his own ideas about racing and switches himself on and off, but there’s definitely a nice pot in him over hurdles. We think the Pertemps Final could suit him.

Elimay
6m Montmartre – Hyde
John P McManus
26/1111
RPR 148c OR 147c

She’s taken very well to fences and goes for the Listed mares‘ chase at Clonmel on Thursday. She hasn’t put a foot wrong and long may that continue.

Elixir D’ainay
6g Muhtathir – Perle Du Bocage
John P McManus
1/2/125F-
RPR 151h OR 149h

A really nice type to be going novice chasing with. His method of jumping and the speed he has means we will start him over two miles. He was far too keen when we tried him over two miles six at Leopardstown. I think we’ll keep him between two and two and half miles. He’s an easier ride over that trip. He’s a tough ride for a jockey.

Elfile
6m Saint Des Saints – Rapide
Kenneth Alexander
2/11213-
RPR 149h OR 151h

She’s a lovely mare, who looks to me like she will be even better over fences than she was over hurdles. She wants a trip and mares‘ novice chases will be right up her street this season.

Energumene
6g Denham Red – Olinight
Tony Bloom
311-
RPR 133h

He’s a real chaser in the making and won his point, but he’ll spend this season over hurdles. He’s won twice for me over two miles, but will stay further and could improve for a step up in trip.

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Et Dite
6m Limnos- Truffe
Hammer & Trowel Syndicate
1/45126-
RPR 123h

Yet to cross the line first, but through the intervention of the stewards she picked up a maiden hurdle at Punchestown. She actually had quite a disappointing season, but I think you will see a big difference in her now she goes chasing.

Eurotiep
6g Lauro – Naltiepy
Down The Hatch Syndicate
22-
RPR 114b

He has two real nice runs to his name in bumpers. Unfortunately, if he does win a bumper now the lads who own him won’t be able to celebrate properly in McEvoys.


Fan De Blues
5g Poliglote – Tire En Touche
Simon Munir & Isaac Souede
2/317-32
RPR 136h, 140c OR 128h, 136c

He’s had a little setback since his good run at Killarney where he just bumped into one. He’ll continue his career over fences when he returns.

Paul Townend lets out a roar as Faugheen wins the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase
Paul Townend lets out a roar as Faugheen wins the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase, Photo: Patrick McCann

Faugheen
12g Germany – Miss Pickering
Mrs S Ricci
3P/1113-
RPR 166c OR 158c

We were gearing him up to have a crack at the Clonmel Oil Chase on Thursday, but he’s had a small setback so won’t make that. It’s nothing too serious at all, but he just needs a week off. We’ll see how he is before making a plan for him. He was initially bought to be a chaser, and always looked like a chaser, so it was brilliant to win two Grade 1s with him over fences last season.


Star quality

Ferny Hollow
5g Westerner – Mirazur
Cheveley Park Stud
2211-
RPR 141b

Paul [Townend] rode him with nerves of steel at Cheltenham. I’d imagine that gave him great personal pleasure, especially to ride him the way he did. It got us on the board and it changed our week. Given the speed he showed that day, I’d imagine Paul will be looking forward to riding him over hurdles as much as we’re looking forward to seeing him. He certainly has enough speed for two miles.


Fils Spirituel
5g Presenting – Toque Rouge
Mrs J Donnelly
15356-
RPR 129h

He’s a maiden over hurdles, but we might go over fences with him. He’s just not showing me on the track what he shows me at home. Perhaps fences will bring out the best in him.

Finest Evermore
4f Yeats – St Helans Bay
J Turner
2-111
RPR 136h

Even though she’s only four, she still looks like a stayer to me. She’s the most fantastic jumper. I think her ability to jump and stay will stand her in good stead. She’s very smart.

Five O’Clock
5g Cokoriko – Rodika
Mrs S Ricci
32/2117-
RPR 143h OR 144h

Not beaten far in the Martin Pipe and looks a real chasing type. He’s a stayer and I’m looking forward to sending him over fences.

Franco De Port
5g Coastal Path – Ruth
Bruton Street V
1/172P-
RPR 145h OR 144h

This fella shows me a lot at home. He was too free in the Coral Cup and the ground was just too soft for him at Limerick over Christmas. He’ll go chasing now and I hope I can manage his career better this season. He’s definitely better than you’ve seen so far.

Francin
7g Air Chief Marshal – Fulgence
Mrs S Ricci
3/6311-
RPR 146h OR 141h

A lovely, big horse who covers ground very quickly. You saw that at Navan in March when he came home strongly to beat a highly-rated horse in Sixshooter. We’re getting him ready for the Royal Bond, which will be his last run as a novice.

Frere Tuck
5g Secret Singer – Tete Et Corde
Cathal Hughes
1/

He won a bumper in France two years ago. He’s a real nice type who jumps well and will start off in a maiden hurdle soon.


Galopin Des Champs
4g Timos – Manon Des Champs
Mrs Audrey Turley
1-

Won over hurdles at Auteuil in May for Arnaud Chaille-Chaille. We’ve entered him in the Royal Bond, but whether he will be ready for that I’m not sure. We’ll be aiming high with him anyway.

Gars En Noir
4g Masked Marvel – Touche Noire
Mrs J Donnelly
F1-
RPR 115h

This is a very nice new arrival. We gave him a tentative entry in the Royal Bond, but that was just in case he instantly started burning up our gallop. We’ll give him a bit of time and it will probably be later in the season when you see him.

Getabird
8g Getaway – Fern Bird
Mrs S Ricci
7P/12/P1-
RPR 156c OR 151c

It will be the second half of the season before we get him going. He needs to go right-handed and we’ll look for a chase for him somewhere in the new year.

Getaway Gorgeous
6m Getaway – Impudent
Whitegrass Getaway Syndicate
21-2125
RPR 138h OR 130h

She’s been busy. We went for a handicap at Down Royal and, while she ran a great race, I should have ran her in the novice hurdle for mares. That said, the experience she gained against top handicappers will help her when she goes back against her own sex.

Gjoumi
4f Maresca Sorrento – Onvavoir
Sean McManus
1/4-
RPR 117h

You’d have to say it was a very encouraging first run for us in a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse behind Burning Victory. She’s sure to make a name for herself in mares‘ novice hurdles this season and will give her owner Sean McManus plenty to smile about.

Good Thyne Tara
10m Kayf Tara – Good Thyne Mary
N G King
163/32F-
RPR 132c

She’s back in training and very well. We’ll go down the mares‘ novice chase route with her. She’s actually well forward for one of mine and will be out soon.

Grangee
4f Great Pretender – Quelle Mome
Syndicates.Racing
1
RPR 104b

Yet another shrewd buy from Jack Cantillon. She certainly looks like a bargain now after what we saw at Galway. She will stick to bumpers this season.

Great White Shark Cesarewitch winner could have a crack at the Stayers' Hurdle
Great White Shark Cesarewitch winner could have a crack at the Stayers‘ Hurdle, Photo: Patrick McCann

Great White Shark
6m Le Havre – Trip To Fame
Malcolm C Denmark
33083-1
RPR 147h OR 145h

She won the Cesarewitch in quite emphatic fashion and I will look at upgrading her over hurdles on the back of that. There’s a possibility, given the way she won at Newmarket, it could be worth having a crack at the Stayers‘ Hurdle. We’ll try to pick and choose some easy options until the hard choices have to be made at the spring festivals.

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Harmonie Star
3f Boris De Deauville – Tulipe Star
Shanakiel Racing Syndicate
5-1111

She looked a top bumper performer in France and is a very nice recruit to the yard. She will probably emerge in the second half of the season over hurdles.

Hook Up
4f No Risk At All – Mission Accomplie
Mrs S Ricci
30-
RPR 120h

She had a good run at Fairyhouse behind Burning Victory on her first start for us. While she couldn’t get competitive when it mattered in the Triumph, she’ll be well able to hold her own in the good mares‘ novice hurdles this season.


Ifyoucatchmenow
7m Westerner – Ifyoucouldseemenow
Coldunell Limited
2/54813-
RPR 130c OR 127c

We might go back to have another go at the Grand National Trial she won at Punchestown in February, and before then there’s the Porterstown Chase at Fairyhouse coming up. We’ll have to have a look at that.


Janidil
6g Indian Daffodil – Janidouce
John P McManus
22/1115-
RPR 150h OR 149h

He goes novice chasing and he could be smart enough to go down the Arkle route. I know he ran in the Albert Bartlett, but he did all his winning prior to that over two miles.

Jon Snow
5g Le Havre – Saroushka
Mrs S Ricci
3321-11
RPR 150h OR 145h

Unfortunately he met with a setback a few weeks ago, so the winter is off the cards for him. He’ll resume hurdling in the spring.

Jungle Boogie
6g Gold Well – A Better Excuse
Malcolm C Denmark
Unraced

A nice type of horse, who might show up in a bumper soon. He’s six, so we want to get him jumping sooner rather than later.


Kemboy
8g Voix Du Nord – Vitora
Kemboy/Brett Graham/Ken Sharp Syndicate
U1/1427-
RPR 178c OR 168c

He’s entered in the Clonmel Oil Chase on Thursday and we’ll see how he works in the meantime, before deciding whether to let him take his chance. The ground is key with him, he needs a decent surface. We know how much he likes Leopardstown, so we’ll be aiming him at the Savills Chase over Christmas.

Klassical Dream
6g Dream Well – Klassical Way
Mrs Joanne Coleman
111/135-
RPR 160h OR 160h

I suppose you could say he’s something of a forgotten horse. He disappointed me last season, but he goes chasing now and I see him as an Arkle contender. If he doesn’t prove himself to be that, we can go up in trip with him.


Lady Breffni
6m Yeats – Time To Shine
Mark Dobbin
31232-
RPR 127h OR 123h

She’s got some decent form and with a nice mark of 123 she might reappear in a handicap rather than a maiden hurdle.

Lord Royal
5g Lord Du Sud – Tinoroyale
Paul Connell & Alan McGonnell
12-
RPR 143h OR 143h

He’s come back to me in great shape. He was very impressive at Clonmel, but didn’t back it up at Punchestown. We didn’t put him in the Cheltenham team after that, but it could be to his advantage as he’s good and strong now. I’m really looking forward to seeing him over fences and he could be an RSA type.


M C Muldoon
5h Mastercraftsman – Alizaya
Paul Hancock
129740/ (Flat)

A lovely horse who was rated 96 on the Flat when trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam. He’s a big unit who jumps well and you’ll see him out in a maiden hurdle before Christmas. I’m looking forward to that.

Melon (near side) narrowly denied by Samcro in the Marsh Novices' Chase at Cheltenham
Melon (near side) narrowly denied by Samcro in the Marsh Novices‘ Chase at Cheltenham, Photo: Alan Crowhurst

Melon
8g Medicean – Night Teeny
Mrs J Donnelly
702142-
RPR 164c OR 155c

He’s run four fantastic races at Cheltenham now and we know he acts around the track, but we just need to pick the right race for him to win one in March. He gave an exhibition of jumping with Patrick [Mullins] in the Marsh and the Gold Cup would have to be on our radar as he certainly stays two and a half miles well. It’s been a lucky race for his owner too.

Micro Manage
4g Rip Van Winkle – Lillebonne
Merriebelle Irish Farm Limited
01/1-37 (Flat)

He’ll be out over hurdles in the next month and jumps very well. He had done some fantastic work in the lead up to the Irish St Leger, but just got a little jarred on the ground.


Star quality

Min
9g Walk In The Park – Phemyka
Mrs S Ricci
51/2121-
RPR 180c OR 169c

He was very good in the Ryanair when I thought he jumped particularly well. He’s won the John Durkan at Punchestown for the last two years, so I don’t see any reason why we should veer away from the tried and tested approach with him. That’s where he will start back and, hopefully, he’ll be back at Cheltenham in March to defend his Ryanair crown.

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Monkfish
6g Stowaway – Martovic
Mrs S Ricci
22111-
RPR 154h OR 152h

A strong stayer; you saw that in the Albert Bartlett. He was very brave there and he looks an exciting staying novice chaser in the making. He jumps well too and is one to look forward to.

Monkfish last season's Albert Bartlett winner in a schooling session
Monkfish last season’s Albert Bartlett winner in a schooling session, Photo: Caroline Norris

Mt Leinster
6g Beat Hollow – Sixhills
Roaringwater Syndicate
72134-6
RPR 148h OR 142h

We’re going to give him an opportunity to jump fences sooner rather than later. We won’t be running him on real heavy ground. He seems to jump particularly well and, if he adapts to chasing, he’s going to be a very interesting sort over two miles.

My Sister Sarah
6m Martaline – Reste Ren Or
Barnane Stud
4FB-221
RPR 146h OR 141h

She’s a strong stayer who won really nicely at Limerick. She could end up in the Mares‘ Hurdle at Cheltenham


N’golo
5g Galileo – Dame Again
Mrs S Ricci
1P11
RPR 133h

He’s improving all the time and his jumping is improving too. I thought Paul was fantastic tactically on him at Navan on Sunday. It’s as good a ride I’ve seen him give a horse. I ran him at Navan to see whether he was good enough to go for the Royal Bond and it looks as though he is now.


Ontheropes
6g Presenting – Dushion
Cheveley Park Stud
41/643P-
RPR 138c OR 137c

This guy could win a big handicap chase this season. He’s going to be a nice staying novice and he’s definitely a bit better than you’ve seen so far.


Pont Aven
7g Doyen – Behlaya
Roderick Ryan & Thomas B Breen & M D Minch
132PUP-
RPR 137c OR 132c

He goes for the 2m4f handicap chase at Punchestown next Saturday.


Rayapour
4g Mastercraftsman – Radiyya
McNeill Family
5/24122- (Flat)

He’s a four-year-old by Mastercraftsman who has run some really good races over a mile and a half on the Flat in France. He’s rated 97 at that game. He could be quite nice and I’d be very much hoping he’s up to winning a maiden hurdle.

Reality Cheque
5g Getaway – Coolaghmore Yeats
Mulcahy
F1- (point)

Won a point for Pat Doyle at Kilfeacle in January. That’s been a lucky yard for me to buy horses out of. He’s a nice chasing type who will start off in bumpers.

Robin De Carlow
7m Robin Des Champs – La Reine De Riogh
Catchherifucan Racing Syndicate
F/11P21-
RPR 146c OR 138c

She had a hoof problem which kept her out after winning a Grade 3 novice chase at Tipperary. She has made great progress and we hope to get her back to the track in the second half of the season. She beat the subsequent Arkle winner [Put The Kettle On] at Tipperary, so hopefully she’ll get a chance to prove that form was not a fluke.

Robin Des Foret
10g Robin Des Pres – Omyn Supreme
Byerley Racing Syndicate
0-20264
RPR 154c OR 148c

He’s had a busy season already, so he’s getting a break. He’ll come back when there’s some nice ground in the spring and will contest some of those valuable handicap chases.

Royal Rendezvous
8g King’s Theatre – Novacella
Dr S P Fitzgerald
P1351-2
RPR 153c OR 153c

We’ve had a small problem with him since he was second in the Galway Plate, so it will be the second half of the season when he returns. I have to admit I wasn’t entirely convinced about his ability to stay the Plate trip, but I was much happier about that after the race. We could up him in trip again and the big handicap chases beckon for him when he returns.

Ruaille Buaille
5m Salutino – Cyclone Lorraine
Ri Ra Racing Syndicate
3-21146
RPR 128h

You can completely disregard her run at Punchestown. She was unlucky at Galway before that. I have a feeling returning to two miles might bring out the best in her.

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Saldier could return in the Morgiana Hurdle
Saldier could return in the Morgiana Hurdle, Photo: Patrick McCann

Saldier
6g Soldier Hollow – Salve Evita
Mrs S Ricci
1531/F/1-
RPR 161h OR 159h

He’s in great shape and is entered in the Hatton’s Grace, but there’s the Morgiana a few weeks before that and he won it last year. Some of his form entitles him to be aimed at the top races and I’d love to get at least one crack at a Champion Hurdle with him.

Salsaretta
7m Kingsalsa – Kendoretta
Mrs S Ricci
9/P1111-
RPR 150c OR 148c

She hasn’t put a foot wrong over fences and is four from four. She’s entered in the Listed mares‘ chase at Clonmel on Thursday and could show up in that. She also has an entry in the big handicap chase at Punchestown on Saturday. I would say she needs soft or heavy in the going description to be at her best.

Saint Roi
5g Coastal Path – Sainte Vigne
John P McManus
3/511-1
RPR 151h OR 151h

He’s always worked very well and I would say the piece of work he did before Cheltenham was one of the best bits of work we’ve seen on our gallop all year. We were delighted to give Barry [Geraghty] his final Cheltenham winner in the County Hurdle and he came back in good shape at Tipperary. The Morgiana is the plan now and then we will look at the Leopardstown races for him.

Saint Sam
3g Saint Des Saints – Ladeka
Edward J Ware
911
RPR 110h

A really nice acquisition by Edward Ware. He’s a natural jumper as most Saint Des Saints are. I like that he showed the speed to win over two miles one furlong in France and, with his pedigree, he can improve with age. I like him.

Sayo
6g Dalakhani – Tiyi
Miss M A Masterson
P300-81
RPR 144h OR 142h

He slipped up in a Flat handicap at Listowel and ended up with a few war wounds from it. We’ve nursed him back and he’s doing fast work this week. He has ability and we’ll mix it between Flat handicaps and hurdling.

Shadow Rider
6g Martaline – Samansonnienne
John P McManus
1/ (point)
RPR 93p

He won a point-to-point nicely at Knockanard. I’d say we’ll skip bumpers and go straight for a maiden hurdle. Colin Bowe liked him and he could make his mark over hurdles.

Sharjah
7g Doctor Dino – Saaryeh
Mrs S Ricci
1B/4162-
RPR 168h OR 164h

He ran a cracker in the Champion Hurdle and for a fleeting moment I thought we might win it coming down to the last. All roads lead back there, but we know he goes particularly well at Leopardstown too, so he will have the same sort of programme as last season.

Shanning
7m Spanish Moon – Idaho Falls
Lady in Waiting & Brett Graham Syndicate
017-962
RPR 145h OR 136h

She’s been disappointing and is on a break. She’ll be back in time for the new year. If I can get her right there’s a nice handicap in her.

Shewearsitwell
5m Shirocco – Ware It Vic
Closutton Racing Club
111
RPR 147h

She’s a really sharp hurdler who should give her connections something to shout about this season. She’s in the Royal Bond and we’ll see if she’s good enough for that class. That will determine where she goes for the rest of season.

Stattler
5g Stowaway – Our Honey
R A Bartlett
132-
RPR 124b

He’s by Stowaway out of an Old Vic mare and looks a staying type. In saying that, Stowaways tend to have great cruising speed, so he could win over two miles.


The Big Getaway
6g Getaway – Saddlers Dawn
Mrs J Donnelly
2/21413-
RPR 152h OR 150h

A horse I’m really looking forward to getting out over fences. He ran a big race in the Ballymore behind Envoi Allen at Cheltenham. He’s always been a big, chasing type. He’s a horse any jockey would love to sit on over fences with his strength and size. He’s a stayer.

The West Awaits
5m Flemensfirth – Lonesome Dove
Mrs John Magnier
261-
RPR 111b

She’s a well-bred mare who should improve for going over longer trips over hurdles.

Tiger Tap Tap
5g Jukebox Jury – Tomato Finish
Mrs S Ricci
11060-8
RPR 138h OR 132h

He’s already had seven runs this year, so I’ve given him a little break. Expect him to come back and be a lot sharper than his last couple of runs. I think he’s a horse who is well handicapped. Watch out for him in a nice handicap over Christmas.

Tornado Flyer
7g Flemensfirth – Mucho Macabi
T F P Partnership
411P35-
RPR 155c OR 150c

He seems to run well early in the season and then go off the boil. I’ve changed his training methods in an attempt to keep his form throughout the season. He’s a 150-rated chaser, who could be a bit better than that. He’s knocking on the door of Grade 1 territory. I’m convinced that if we tinker a little bit with his training routine we can get a bit more improvement out of him.

Total Recall
11g Westerner – Augest Weekend
Slaneyville Syndicate
3P/8631-
RPR 164c OR 158c

He’s been a great servant to the yard and for his owners. Little did I think he would win the Thyestes last year in the manner he did. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that he has another big handicap in him either.


Unexcepted
6g Anzillero – Eaton Lass
John P McManus
3/12P-1
RPR 139h, 153c OR 137h

He could be our Arkle horse. He has huge natural talent to jump fences and a very high cruising speed. He’s a horse who excites everybody, including myself. Mark [Walsh] came back in after the race at Tipperary and said he felt the horse was only doing a nice handy speed; he didn’t realise how far clear he was. I know it looked like he had an easy race, but when horses win in the manner he did, I’m always keen to give them a bit of time afterwards. I’d say you will see him again at Christmas.

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Vis Ta Loi
6g Smadoun – Dicte Ta Loi
Creighton Family
3/13336-
RPR 136h OR 133h

A staying novice hurdler from last season, who didn’t reach the heights we were hoping for. He’s a natural jumper of a fence though, and I’ve no doubt he will prove to be a much better chaser than hurdler.


Yukon Lil
6m Flemensfirth – Dare To Doubt
Mrs John Magnier
42/7154-
RPR 130h OR 133h

I’d imagine she’ll go chasing. She was rated 133 over hurdles, but with her pedigree she could improve on that considerably over fences.


Two for the tracker

Unexcepted is a horse who excites everybody, including myself. He could be our Arkle horse. Vis Ta Loi is a natural jumper of a fence and I’ve no doubt he will prove to be a much better chaser than hurdler.


Expert view

Despite the fact he has been a bit slower out of the blocks this year and that his trainers‘ title is probably under greater threat from Gordon Elliott than it has ever been, Willie Mullins will be as big a powerhouse in the spring as ever.

When he says he has unfinished business at Cheltenham next year, it would be wise not to ignore.

The central theme of his season is whether Al Boum Photo will prove good enough to win the Gold Cup for a third year in succession.

The tried-and-trusted method of a single prep run at Tramore on New Years Day is going to be repeated again, and the opposition this year looks to be of a similar level.

If stablemate Kemboy can return to the form he showed two seasons ago he could be the biggest danger.

Mullins is speaking of former Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon being trained as a Gold Cup horse this year, and perhaps he will finally give Min a chance to see if he can make the grade over three miles plus. The King George could be an ideal race for him.

In terms of unfinished business, Mullins is particularly referencing the setback which prevented Chacun Pour Soi from contesting the Champion Chase, but he was not really at his scintillating best last season in any case.

He remains the best two-mile chaser around in terms of sheer ability and he will be hard to stop in his quest to be the champion at that distance.

Mullins saddled Sharjah to a career-best performance in finishing second in last season’s Champion Hurdle, but the champion trainer could be much more strongly represented this time around with highly promising Morgiana Hurdle winner Saldier.

Last season’s impressive County Hurdle scorer Saint Roi is also likely to be given a chance to see if he can step up to that level.

Mullins will not be short of top-class mares again this season. The new mares‘ chase at Cheltenham is being spoken of as the target for Benie Des Dieux.

Hope springs eternal that she might be more ambitiously campaigned this year with perhaps the Stayers‘ Hurdle in mind, but it would be wise not to be optimistic.

In the novice divisions there looks to be an abundance of quality yet again. There may not be a more exciting horse than Micro Manage over two miles. He was considered an Irish Derby possible in 2019 and is a proven Group performer on the Flat this year.

Add to that last season’s Champion Bumper first and second Ferny Hollow and Appreciate It, along with well-touted French import Harmonie Star, and you are only scratching the surface.

The most precocious of the early-season Mullins novice chasers is Tipperary winner Unexcepted, closely related to Grade 1-winning tearaway Great Field and a horse in a similar mould.

2019 Supreme Novices‘ Hurdle hero Klassical Dream goes chasing this season, as does last season’s Albert Bartlett Novices‘ Hurdle winner Monkfish.

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