It just didn’t go to plan for Willie Mullins at Cheltenham this year, did it? With a number of highly touted horses out of action, Mullins sent a slightly weaker contingent to the famous National Hunt meeting – and it showed. The Irish champion trainer wasn’t able to dominate like in previous years, losing out on valuable prize money to rival Gordon Elliott.
The writing was on the wall for Mullins in the opening race on the Tuesday. Melon, antepost favourite for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for months, fell short to Labaik; a horse that has a history of refusing to run. The Elliott-trained youngster shot off and was a class above his rivals on the day, winning at a handsome 25-1.
And it didn’t get that much better for Mullins if truth be told. Un De Sceaux was magnificent but Djakadam’s costly error at the second last proved decisive in the Gold Cup as Sizing John stayed on to claim the ultimate prize at the meeting. With all of that bad luck now in the past, Mullins can focus on getting ready for another huge campaign next year.
On paper, Mullins has the most talented yard in the business on his books; especially in the Grade One races. With Faugheen, Annie Power and Min all looking to bounce back from their respective injury issues, one thing is for sure: the Mullins/Ruby Walsh combination will flourish ahead of what might be a memorable Cheltenham Festival for the yard.
People weren’t afraid to hold back on their criticism of the Mullins horses this year – and it would be fair to state that punters and racing fans expected more. A Betfred review on the meeting claimed that Mullins will learn a great deal from this year’s disappointment and he will bounce back stronger than ever next year; bettors will have fingers and toes crossed.
As of May 10th, Mullins supporters can back Yorkhill at 7/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018; a solid price considering his talent. For those unsure about ante post betting, you can find helpful advice via the Betfred Review with Bookmaker Ratings; the 2017 JLT winner is an absolute machine but it would be foolish to forget about the soon-to-return Thistlecrack.
Next year, the Gold Cup should be the pinnacle of the meeting. Injuries to key personalities opened the showpiece event up in 2017 and let’s hope that all of Mullins’ monsters are good to go prior to next March. With a full cavalry at his disposal, the Irish champion trainer could be set for another week of dominance at the famous Cheltenham track.