Willie Mullins Stable Preview (2017-2018)

As the National Hunt Season begins to kick in I thought what better time to do somewhat of a Stable Preview on the Irish Champion Trainer himself and my favourite National Hunt trainer of all time Willie Mullins and the bundles of talent that he has at his disposal.

Last year was somewhat of a testing one for Willie having just held on to his trainers title by the skin of his teeth at the depth from Gordon Elliot. Having said that it probably speaks volumes of the man that we are classing a season a ‘bad one’ when he still ends up Champion Trainer and has several Cheltenham Festival winners and Grade 1’s to his name at the end of it

Willie has however come out firing this year in what looks like an attempt to put last year’s last ditch effort to reclaim his crown behind him and once again dominate the Irish division. It fasicinates me every year the amount of top class horses that Willie has in his yard and i’ve been looking forward to doing a Preview post on them for some while now so I hope you enjoy it as much as I have putting it together.


DOUVAN – 111/11111111117 (Form Whilst With Mullins)

Owner: Mrs S Ricci

I’ll start off with the big guns and there’s no place better to start than this one is there. Douvan was judged to be the next dominant force in the National Hunt sphere having looked an absolute monster in previous campaigns. There was always an argument that he never beat top class horses and he was merely beating the same horses over and over again however he always did it in such taking style.

He looked to be the certainty of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival when the 2-9 favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase however he found himself in trouble some way out and suffered his first defeat under Willie when finishing back in seventh behind Special Tiara. It came back that he suffered an injury throughout that race and looks to be back in full health this time around for a season aimed at a mouth watering clash against Altior at Cheltenham.

Horse-Racing-Willie-Mullins-Douvan-573739 (2)


FAUGHEEN – 11111/1111-1211

Owner: Mrs S Ricci

From one big gun to the next we move on to ‘The Machine’ Faugheen. Reports from the yard are that he is said to be flying at home and is set to make a return to the track in the not so distant future. He’s currently a best priced of 8/1 to regain his Champion Hurdle crown and that’s sure to shorten up if he makes an impressive comeback on his return run.

He’s only ever lost once and that was when he severely out of shape to stablemate Nichols Canyon and was last seen on the track when turning the tables with him when absolutely bolting up in the 2016 Grade 1 Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown. He currently has seven Grade 1’s to his name and I really hope he makes a return this season.

PANews_P-c7e5cb08-5bdf-424a-869d-37bd3fe5d48e_I1

 


MIN – 112-11

Owner: Mrs S Ricci

Another big gun for the Ricci’s comes in the form of MIN and I’m genuinely very excited to see him in action this time around. We last saw him in December 2016 when he won a Grade 1 contest at Leopardstown in very taking style which seemed to please Ruby Walsh a good deal.

I raised a few eyebrows last season by throwing it out there that I thought that Min could actually beat Altior in the Arkle at Cheltenham and i’m still not backing down from those claims. I honestly believe he’ll be an absolute monster this season and I think he’s going to take the world of beating wherever he turns up. He’s currently best priced at 12/1 for a tilt at the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham for a crack at Altior and stablemate Douvan which would be some spectacle.

skysports-min-ruby-walsh-leopardstown-horse-racing_3859045


UN DE SCEAUX – 11/111/1F111/1F122-161112

Owner: Edward O’Connell

Possibly one of, if not my favourite horses in training at the moment in the National Hunt sphere is Un De Sceaux. He’s not quite as bonkers as he used to be but my what an outstanding season he had last time around. Wining the Tingle Creek, Clarence House & Ryanair.

He just got edged out of it when looking a bit tired at the Punchestown Festival too Fox Norton but he certainly went down on his sword. I can’t wait to see him out again this time around where a defence of his Ryanair title at the Cheltenham Festival may well be the aim.

2017-Cheltenham-Festival-St-Patricks-Thursday-Cheltenham-Racecourse


DJAKADAM – U112/411F/812/21F232-1342

Owner: Mrs S Ricci

Another big gun for the Ricci’s and it comes in the form this time in two time Gold Cup runner up Djakadam. A horse that perhaps I have somewhat of a stubborn love affair with. I still think he has that big day in him and yet again last time around it was more hard luck stories for him which I am using as excuses. He looked to be travelling really nicely at Cheltenham in the Gold Cup before making a mistake at one of the last fences from home which compromised his momentum and he finished back in 4th having being runner up the two previous years. At the Punchestown Gold Cup it was perhaps the most heartbreaking of all, I thought he was going to get his big day however he didn’t get over the last all that well and Sizing John nabbed him on the line.

Where will he go this year? A fourth attempt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup is still an option however it doesn’t look as likely. Maybe a go at taking stablemate Un De Sceaux on in the Ryanair. Who knows. I’m keeping the faith with him though. He will get that big win!

djakadam-ruby-walsh-john-durkan-horse-racing_3385398.jpg


YORKHILL – 11114-1112

Owner: Andrea & Graham Wylie

Yorkhill is one of the more controversial big guns in the Mullins yard, he has bags and bags of ability in the bag however since the switch from Hurdles to Fences his ability to jump has left a bit to be desired at times. That being said he still had a fine campaign last time around with winning the JLT at the Cheltenham Festival being the highlight. He then went to Fairyhouse to contest their Gold Cup Novice Chase and his jumping severely let him down throughout, with him jumping so wide he pretty much ended up in the car park throughout stages. Despite travelling twice the distance of many of the other horses that day he still rallied after being headed and was on beat a very short distance by Road To Respect.

His future sure is a puzzling one, i’m not convinced that they’ll revert back to hurdles with him despite speculation and if Willie does manage to sort his jumping out I can personally see him being their Gold Cup horse at the Cheltenham Festival next year.

18506-large.jpeg


LET’S DANCE – 234-21111124

Owner: Mrs S Ricci

Onto yet another class act for the Ricci’s and this is Let’s Dance. Now this horse really was one of the most progressive you could find last season culminating in a win in the Grade 2 Mares Novice race at the Cheltenham Festival, which was quite unbelievably the Ricci’s only win at this year’s festival. However she did it in really good style and capped off a great year. She didn’t end there though she went to try her hand out in Grade 1 company and was just edged out by stablemate Augusta Kate at Fairyhouse before taking on the boys in the Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival where she ran a mighty race in 4th.

She had a lot runs last season but the future certainly looks bright for this one. She has an array of options in front of her. Maybe a tilt at the Mares race at the Festival being the aim? Willie has a strong team of mares so who knows. She’s certainly one to look forward too.

sportsfile_1262986jpg-js297848858-e1489578559971.jpg


LIMINI – 1113-213

Owner: Mrs S Ricci

Another classy mare in the Mullins camp and another one for the Ricci’s is Limini who has followed a similar path to Let’s Dance throughout her relatively short career under the Champion Trainer. She’s been lightly raced however compared to Let’s Dance but has put in some mighty performances when she has turned up on the track. She won the Mares Novice race in great style at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival before being slightly disapointing when finishing third at Aintree behind Buveur D’air and second at the Punchestown Festival behind stablemate Whiteout the same year.

She made her return last season when turning over the impressive Gordon Elliot trained Apple’s Jade in a Listed Contest before finishing third behind that same rival in the Mare’s race at the Cheltenham Festival. It’s another ‘anyone’s guess’ type situation trying to find out where she will be aimed this season, the Mare’s race again at the festival looks the most likely in my opinion.

1817689-38351031-2560-1440.jpg


VROUM VROUM MAG – 11111/11111-21127

Owner: Mrs S Ricci

It’s more of the same, another classy mare for the Ricci’s this time in the form of the mightily versatile Vroum Vroum Mag. She was arguably not as impressive last season as she was the time before as back in 2016 she seemed to take everything that came before her winning the Mare’s contest at the Cheltenham Festival and the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown. However this time around she couldn’t quite retain either of her titles. She still ran really well in defeat at Cheltenham when she looked to be travelling much the best before being edged out by Apple’s Jade. I think we can forgive the Punchestown run this time around when she was back in seventh as she may of been feeling the effects of a hard season. She was entered in the majority of the races at last year’s Cheltenham Festival so it’s another question mark hanging over her plan this time around. I certainly think she has more to offer though.

627641-251849


NICHOLS CANYON – 11U131/111333-312F12

Owner: Andrea & Graham Wylie

It’s quite incredible to think that Nichols Canyon is only a seven year old as it does feel as though he’s been around forever. He’s of course the only horse to ever lower the colours of the mighty Faugheen and he’s far from a slouch himself. A multiple Grade 1 winner since transferring from the Flat with John Gosden to Willie, he’s shaped into one of the best National Hunt horses in training. His campaign last season went more a long the staying route as he was gradually upped in trip for a tilt at the Stayers race at the Cheltenham Festival. He went on to win that day beating Lil Rockerfella & the big favourite Unowhatimeanharry in the process. The latter did just about turn the tables with him in the Stayers contest at the Punchestown Festival but he went down on his sword in a photo finish.

Another season aimed towards defending his crown in the Stayers at the festival looks lightly and he looks once again bound for more Grade 1 success.

21215-large.jpeg


BACARDYS – 1313-F11P1

Owner: Shanakiel Racing Syndicate

A bit of an unsung hero from the yard is this horse Bacardys and in my opinion I think he was on the most impressive from the yard last season. Something went amiss with him at the Cheltenham Festival where he was unfortunately pulled up but either side of that he managed to bag himself two Grade 1 victories. The first of these coming in the Deloitte Hurdle at Leopardstown. I actually tipped him up that day as I thought he was a ridiculous price of around 14/1 and he stayed on brilliantly at the end to grab victory under Patrick Mullins. It was that man again who steered him to victory for his other Grade 1 success this time lowering the colours of the very talented Finian’s Oscar at in the Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival. His most impressive victory to date. I look forward to seeing him make a return to the course this year and hopefully some redemption at Cheltenham.

Bacardys_alt.jpg


GREAT FIELD – 1P-1111

Owner: J P McManus

I love an horse that’s a bit of a nutcase and this horse is exactly that. Straight out the Un De Sceaux mould this horse will have you in a right way if you’ve lumped your lot on him but my what a performer he is. He made his return to the course later on in the season and struck up an impressive partnership with Jody McGarvey winning all four starts. His season culminated in an impressive victory in the Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival and he’s possibly one of the horses i’m most exited to see this year throughout the National Hunt Season.

He’s currently entered in the betting for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next year, a match up between him, Altior, Douvan & Min would be some pull.

Horse-Great_Field-105877-636x424.jpg


ONE’S TO LOOK OUT FOR:

SAYAR: An impressive winner in his first couple of starts for Willie since his move from the Aga Khan and I certainly think he’ll carry on his impressive start and maybe earn himself a tilt at the Supreme Novice event at Cheltenham.


C’EST JERSEY: We last saw this one when winning at the Punchestown Festival beating talented stablemate Battleford in the process. I’m not quite sure what the plans are for him this time around but certainly keep an eye out for wherever he turns up.


BRAHMA BULL: One for the Ricci’s and possibly my favourite named horse at the moment, Brahma Bull has looked as tough as they come when winning all of his bumpers under Patrick Mullins in the past few months. I believe Mullins said his future could lie over the long distances.


GETABIRD: Another one for the Ricci’s and this one was the favourite for the Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival before unfortunately suffered a set back. The target this year may well be the Supreme Novice and if transferring the bumper form too hurdles he may well be a big player.


I know there’s loads more I could of covered in my preview but I tried to get as many big guns in as possible as well as a few new ones. I hope it was an enjoyable read. Thank for checking the post out.


willie-mullins-10-752x501.jpg

 

 

Advertisements