Willie Mullins Cheltenham Hopeful Well Backed On Sunday

Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins

The Willie Mullins trained Asterion Forlonge has been the best-backed horse for the Cheltenham Festival on Sunday. The grey, who was always thought to be a three-miler, showed that wasn’t the case last time out and has been well supported for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on the opening day of the Festival.

The beautiful grey stepped up from maiden company to Grade One class with no fuss at all to land the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown. He was extremely game from the front and showed a high cruising speed on the day.

The six-year-old made his debut over hurdles at Thurles in November after a lengthy 648-day absence, but Willie Mullins’ clearly had done serious work with him because he was ready to go.

Sent off a 4/1 chance, Danny Mullins sent him to the front from the word go and was closely pursued by the very classy Gordon Elliott-trained Easywork all the way, but he he found more on the run to the last and the scope is enormous for this fella.

Mullins said: “It surprised me and I’m delighted. I had him down as a two-mile-six or three-mile horse.

“The last day he won at Naas was a mile-and-seven. I had a three-mile horse down in Cork and he got beaten, so I said to myself, ‘now I’ve this fella in the wrong race over two’.

“It looks like I’m wrong and he’s a two-miler. He has a huge cruising speed and I said to Danny, ‘go out and make the running, you’re not making it for our other two, you’re making it for yourself so try to get the fractions right’.

“He’s never fast at home, but he obviously covers a huge amount of ground and can keep that gallop up for two miles flat out.

“He looked like he could be a Supreme (Novices’ Hurdle) horse and that was the furthest thing from my mind three weeks ago.

“We’ll see what happens. I think this fella can stay, I think he’s easy enough to ride. I always had him down as a stayer.

“If the owner has something else for the Supreme we can chat it out.”

The winning rider said: “It was a proper good performance. We went an even gallop and picked up well in the straight.

“In fairness to Dermot (Keeling) who looks after him, and looked after Champagne Fever before, he said he reminded him of Champagne Fever.

“We’ll need to step up to get to his level, but that was good and hopefully he’ll keep improving.”

Let's talk about Safer Gambling
1st - 7th November 2021
National Gambling HelpLine: Call FREE 0800 020 1009