Leading trainer at the Festival in seven of the last 10 years, Willie Mullins has dominated jump racings showpiece event. It’s not hard to see why, with the Master of Closutton in rampant form over Christmas. From his last 65 runners, he’s managed 22 winners, including six Grade 1 victors.
That incredible run of form has led to several horses shooting up in the Cheltenham Festival antepost markets. It can be somewhat of a guessing game with Mullins as to the target of his horses, but these two look to have a path lined up. You can find out all the details on this pair of star horses below, with the double paying 13/1 with William Hill!
Appreciate It – Supreme (5/2)
A very smart bumper horse, Appreciate It only found Ferny Hollow too strong when second in the Champion Bumper at last year’s Festival. He’s built on that promise in no uncertain terms over hurdles, winning a pair of races in empathic fashion.
Winning in facile fashion on debut at Cork, he looked like a star in the making when flying clear in the Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle over Christmas. He travelled all over his rivals and showed a frightening turn of foot on the run-in to streak clear.
One of the best performances by a novice this season, it’s no surprise to see him at 5/2 for the Festival opener. He’s displayed much the best form thus far and despite us being months out, you’d struggle to suggest that his current price isn’t fair.
Concertista – Mares Hurdle (7/2)
It’s been a tale of relentless improvement for Concertista, who capped off last season with a twelve-length success in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Festival. She made a triumphant return at Fairyhouse in November, making a mockery of a useful field, and her latest run at Leopardstown was magical.
She tanked into the Grade 3 contest and could be called the winner from miles out. Taking the lead on the bridle approaching the last, she skipped clear for a dominant success, easily handing weight (and a beating) to her opponents.
The sky is the limit for this fantastic mare, so much so, that the Champion Hurdle has been mentioned. It would be a surprise if she took up that engagement, however, and the Mares’ Hurdle is surely her target this time around. If taking her place in March, she’s very unlikely to go off at 7/2, which is a generous looking price at this stage.
If you do think she’s heading for a date with the Champion Hurdle, she’s a general 20/1 for that contest. Given that Honeysuckle could well be heading that route herself, it would pave the way for Concertista to take outright favouritism of the mares contest.
Monkfish – RSA Chase (9/4)
Winning last year’s Albert Bartlett in gutsy fashion, Monkfish has continued his progression with a pair of comfortable chasing successes. Despite 2m 5f being short of his best, he made a mockery of some useful rivals when making a winning chasing debut in November.
Pitched into Grade 1 company over Christmas, he travelled like a dream in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown. He had to be ridden on the run-in, but as soon as Paul Townend got serious, he quickened clear smartly. After the race, Townend shared that same sentiment: “Monkfish just needed one squeeze coming down to the last and he picked up well. You couldn’t have asked for any more and his jumping was very good“.
The RSA Chase should be right up his alley. He’ll relish a three-mile slog at Cheltenham and his ground versatility will stand him in good stead. He looks like he could be something special and this imposing seven-year-old is going to take a whole load of beating come March.