By HRI Foreign Staff — As the winning-most trainer in Cheltenham Festival history, any horse sent across from Ireland by Willie Mullins to the British Isles’ premier National Hunt meet commands respect. Things should be no different in 2021.
Mullins has built up one of the most powerful stables in the world of horse racing, so which of his horses are fancied for Cheltenham Festival glory? Here, we’ve picked out five to note.
Five Willie Mullins Horses for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival
Where else can you start but with two-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo? His heroics have come in the Festival feature and blue riband event of steeplechasing, and all roads lead back to the Prestbury Park track in search of a hat-trick.
Mullins has a tried and tested route to get Al Boum Photo ready for his Gold Cup treble bid. Lookout for the horse running at home in Ireland around Tramore on New Year’s Day before returning to Cheltenham.
Chacun Pour Soi
Believe it or not, there is one big Cheltenham race that Mullins hasn’t won yet, and that is the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Chacun Pour Soi should end up tipped by horse racing experts to end that hoodoo this year, however.
He was all set to run in last year’s race but picked up an abscess that ruled him out at the last minute. There is a clear program for Chacun Pour Soi in Ireland to get him back to Cheltenham in 2021, and it involves defending his Dublin Chase crown at Leopardstown in February.
The Mullins stable has by and large farmed mares only races at the Festival, so Concertista is one of that sex to note this season. This comes off the back of her impressive win in the Grade 2 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last term.
Concertista has since made a successful step up in trip at Fairyhouse and is only behind Henry De Bromhead’s Honeysuckle in the Mares’ Hurdle betting for Cheltenham. The progress she has made this year suggests she can give the favorite a race.
Sticking with mares, up-and-coming hurdler Gauloise made it three career starts unbeaten and back-to-back wins since joining the Mullins stable with a Listed victory at Thurles before Christmas. She has followed a well-travelled route from France over to Ireland and already showed ability.
Mullins has Gauloise and Grade 3 winner Shewearsitwell among possible young mares targeting the Dawn Run at Cheltenham come the spring. Both have claims, but the former impressed many observers with the way she won at Thurles and the bookmakers to who cut her into favorite.
The race best known as the RSA Chase for staying novice steeplechasers is a trial for potential Gold Cup horses of the future. Monkfish, the 2020 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle hero, is well-fancied to record another Cheltenham Festival victory in it.
He made a successful debut over fences at Fairyhouse and won very easily. Mullins has trained four previous winners of the three-mile Cheltenham Festival novice chase, a joint-record, but Monkfish is expected to give an unprecedented fifth success.