He’s better known for his exploits in the National Hunt sphere, but the Willie Mullins’ magic extends beyond the jumps. Increasingly in recent years, Mullins has sent plenty of dual purpose horses to Royal Ascot, with the Ascot Stakes his usual target. Winning four renewals of the race, he’s the joint most successful trainer in the race alongside Martin Pipe.
In 2021, Mullins once again goes to war at Royal Ascot, and he has an impeccable arsenal. Four of his jumpers make the switch to the flat on Tuesday and they all look to have strong chances. You can find all the analysis on his runners below.
5.00 Ascot – Ascot Stakes (Class 2 Handicap)
In terms of the bookmaker odds, M C MULDOON is the biggest chance Mullins has of making history on Tuesday. He was previously trained on the flat by Peter Chapple-Hyam, where he was rated 100 at his peak. Since joining Mullins and switching codes in late 2020, he’s won a Fairyhouse maiden and placed in a Grade 2 at the same venue.
Switching back to the flat, he has to be given a huge chance. Stamina won’t be a problem and given his previous flat exploits, he has the class too. He gets the services of Ryan Moore, who has ridden three of Mullins’ four winners in the race, and he commands plenty of respect.
Narrowly behind him in the market is RAYAPOUR, who was previously trained in France by Alain de Royer-Dupré. He was a maiden winner in that country and was absent for 665 days prior to his debut for Mullins at Kilbeggan last month. He acquitted himself well, finishing a very close third behind two smart prospects.
Given that he wasn’t weakening late over 2m 3f on that hurdling debut, stamina should be no problem for him moving to the level. Derby-winning jockey Adam Kirby takes the ride and he’s unlikely to be far away in the colours of the McNeill Family.
She’s double the price of the two aforementioned stablemates, but plenty will be drawn to ROYAL ILLUSION due to Tom Marquand’s booking. He’s been a revelation in recent years and his partner has won three times on the flat already. She arrives in great form, having finished a very close third in the November Handicap at Naas before breaking her hurdling maiden at Leopardstown at the second time of asking in March.
Rated 94 on the flat, she does have a bit to find, but she promises to be suited by this step up in distance. She handles better going, which is an obvious positive, and this mare holds an each-way chance.
6.10 Ascot – Copper Horse Stakes (Handicap)
A Grade 1 winner over hurdles, SALIDER is an intriguing sole runner for Mullins in the Copper Horse Stakes. Having been disappointing over hurdles this term, a switch to the flat seemed to help his confidence, winning as he liked at Listowel earlier this month.
There was plenty to like about that performance, travelling powerfully and showing plenty of gears in the home straight. A strongly-run 1m 6f test should suit him perfectly and his current mark shouldn’t handicap him out of the running. Unsurprisingly, Ryan Moore is in the saddle and he’s been well-supported into clear favouritism.
This is certainly tougher than last time, but he’s exceptionally talented and that alone may carry him through.