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Willie Mullins runs the rule over his star studded Cheltenham Festival team headed by Gold Cup hero Galopin Des Champs
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Willie Mullins runs the rule over his star-studded Cheltenham...

WILLIE MULLINS opened his doors on Monday for his traditional pre-Cheltenham Festival media visit.

The legendary trainer is set to send a star-studded team across the Irish Sea, with big guns like Galopin Des Champs and El Fabiolo leading the charge.

PAWillie Mullins opened his doors to the media on Monday[/caption]

He could have as many as 70 runners at this year’s meeting, so we’ve picked out some of the most important nuggets on some of his key runners.

Galopin Des Champs

“He’s come out of his race in Leopardstown very well and I’m very happy. It’s going to be a tip-top Gold Cup I think. We’re in great form.

“I’d wanted him ridden off the pace the two years before as I felt he was too keen and I didn’t want him getting drawn into a battle, but this year I don’t mind.

“He’s bigger and stronger, well certainly stronger but he’s more mature now and definitely up for it (leading).”


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El Fabiolo

“I was over the moon with his run at the DRF, because I knew that Dinoblue was in great form going there and he beat her nicely.

“He is just ticking over now and the Champion Chase has been the plan since this time last year.

“It will be a tough race but he is the one they have to beat.”

State Man

“I didn’t talk to any of the time men after Leopardstown because I thought his performance at Christmas was huge against Impaire Et Passe who was much more competitive than he was the other day. Tactics were changed on Impaire but he was nearly a non-runner as far as I’m concerned, you could see after two hurdles.

“I don’t know if State Man was at his best in last year’s Champion, we’ll find out this year. He’s very good, he’ll be very race-fit but Nicky Henderson does have a habit of having his horses very right on the day when people think they haven’t raced enough, Nicky gets everything right for Cheltenham.

“We hope it will be a hell of a race, Nicky probably doesn’t and Constitution Hill fans probably don’t but we are stronger this year, I don’t know if better but stronger. I will leave tactics to Paul but we’re happy to have him in the order which he is.”


“Ballyburn has been very impressive. He’s in the Supreme and Baring Bingham, pedigree-wise you’d say Baring Bingham but looking at his races you’d say Supreme.

“His owners haven’t shown a preference and they’d be very happy to go wherever we go. I’ll leave that one open for the time being.

Mystical Power

“I’ve been very pleased with what he’s shown over two miles as on pedigree I thought he’d want further but he’s shaped more like a two-miler.

“I think he’s a bit like his mother, a later developer. You get some pedigrees, like Quevega and all her progeny who are late developers, so this fellow is improving all the time.”

PALossiemouth is hot favourite for the Mares’ Hurdle[/caption]


“Lossiemouth hasn’t done anything wrong. I know a lot of people want her to go down the Champion Hurdle route, but I’m not even sure if there wasn’t a Mares’ Hurdle we’d go down that route with a five-year-old.

“In my lifetime a five-year-old usually wins once every 30 years and usually a bad year and this doesn’t look like it’s going to be a bad year for the Champion Hurdle. I don’t think the five-year-olds are physically strong enough.

“She did everything right the other day, maybe she needs longer, she’ll have other days to go at the Champion Hurdle. We’ll let State Man soften up Constitution Hill first and leave the door open for her!”


“Monkfish is also in the Stayers’ Hurdle, but if enough rain comes I’d seriously have to consider him for the Gold Cup.

“He’s got the class and I was happy he came back in good order in Gowran, albeit over hurdles.

“At the moment I’d say I’ll prepare him for the Gold Cup, I’ll have a word with Rich Ricci and see what he is thinking.

“I thought he went a long way to answering if he was as good as he was at Gowran and come Cheltenham, he will be better again.”

Gaelic Warrior

“Obviously going left-handed didn’t suit Gaelic Warrior, but getting worked up before the race didn’t help and during the race he made a mistake at the fourth last which seemed to unsettle him.

“He was very disappointing but he seems all right. He’s a little quiet in himself but he would be, most good horses are when they are beaten.

“We’ll try to get him right and the Turners was what we had in mind for him.”

Fact To File

“Fact To File is in the Brown Advisory and Turners at Cheltenham. I’d be leaning towards the Brown Advisory, but I’m just wondering what other horses in the same colours might be going that way.

“His speed figure at the Dublin Racing Festival was fantastic. Someone told me at Christmas in his beginners’ chase he did a huge one, I’m into what I see visually and the way they do it but the run at Christmas it transpired was right and he doubled down on it.

“Fact To File has done everything right and has put in a huge trial for either race at Cheltenham.”


“She was in absolutely brilliant form before she went to the DRF and I thought she would give El Fabiolo a good run for his money.

“She is still flying at home and she will go for the mares’ chase, for which she’d have a great chance.”

Ashroe Diamond

“I was very pleased with her at Doncaster and she is a mare who is on the up. The Mares’ Hurdle is a good spot for her.”

Dark horse…

“Sa Majeste looks a nice horse and he has qualified for his mark. He will have all the handicap entries.”


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