With last year’s renewal of the Cheltenham Festival being such a fantastic, breakout meeting for Irish trainer Henry de Bromhead, who most notably won the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Gold Cup, it is easy to forget that it was, in fact, his compatriot Willie Mullins who took home the Leading Trainer award — albeit on the basis of more placing as both trainers rounded off the Festival with six wins.
It was the third time in a row the Co. Carlow-based trainer has taken home the award, taking his personal Leading Trainer record to eight victories and extending his number of race wins at the prestigious Prestbury Park meeting to an impressive 78 — which is more than any other trainer in the Festival’s rich history.
Averaging more than five winners at each renewal of Cheltenham over the last 11 years, it is no surprise that Mullins’ horses are often a go-to for punters scouring the Betdaq horse racing betting ahead of the Festival. And, this year will be no different. So read on as we take a look at four Mullins-trained horses to watch come March.
One of the most exciting Novices at the minute, Ferny Hollow returned from a 380-day break to win twice in December. He beat Coeur Sublime by four lengths to win a Beginners Chase at Punchestown earlier in the month before landing the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day — beating Gordon Elliott’s Riviere D’etel by a length and a half. The seven-year-old is now the short-price favourite to win the Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham and could be a Queen Mother Champion Chase victor in the years to come.
After storming to a 12-length victory over Fakir D’oudairies in last year’s Ryanair Chase, one of day three’s two feature races, it is no surprise that Allaho is expected to defend his crown in the Grade 1 race again this year. His stablemate Chacun Pour Soi proved too strong in the Punchestown Champion Chase last April, but the eight-year-old bounced back on his seasonal reappearance last month — winning the top-level Punchestown Chase. With Mark Walsh’s Fakir D’oudairies Allaho’s biggest competition again this year, the Mullins-trained horse should stroll to victory once again.
The penultimate day could be one to savour for the Irish trainer as his Klassical Dream leads the way in the Stayers’ Hurdle ante-post market. Returning to track after a huge 487-day break at the end of last season, the eight-year-old didn’t show any rustiness as he won the Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown in April. Returning to the track for the first time this season for the Christmas Hurdle at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, Klassical Dream beat 2021 Stayers’ Hurdle champion Flooring Porter by two lengths to win the Grade 1 race. He has Champ hot on his tail, but the Mullins horse has form on his side.
On the hunt for a hat-trick of successive Gold Cup triumphs last year, Al Boum Photo came up short for Mullins as Minella Indo and A Plus Tard romped home ahead of the 10-year-old for fellow Irish trainer Henry de Bromhead. The two-time winner will likely try his luck again this year, but we are going to focus on Tornado Flyer in the showpiece race. Stealing the headlines over the busy festive period of racing with a shock win from 28/1 in the King George VI Chase, beating favourite Clan Des Obeaux by nine lengths, the nine-year-old’s Gold Cup odds have been slashed to 10/1.
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