Mullins Machine Marches On
Irish trainer Willie Mullins and his team continued their relentless march towards this year’s Cheltenham Festival with devastating successes on both sides of the Irish Sea this weekend. His trio all had questions of one sort or another to answer heading into their individual assignments, all answered in the most spectacular style.
First up, Un De Sceaux in Ascot’s Clarence House Stakes. Had his fall last time out at Leopardstown left a mark on this exuberant front running eight-year-old? It certainly didn’t look like it given the manner in which he disposed of a field including former Champion Chaser Sire De Grugy. Next stop for Un De Sceaux, the Queen Mother Champion Chase for which he is now odds on across the board. (4/5).
Douvan was the next to have his Festival credentials examined in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown. So dominant has this son of Walk In The Park been since joining the Willie Mullins yard that few have even looked like giving him a race. Such is his reputation that only two horses turned up to take him on Sunday. Sent off at 1/14, Douvan was certainly entitled to trounce his rivals, and trounce them he did. It was the ease and class with which he did it that really caught the eye however.
On this display there can be few better jumpers of a fence in training. With the Irish Arkle safely in the bag it is the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham which is next on the agenda. Betfair now go 4/7 about Douvan for that race in what is shaping up to be a fantastic Tuesday at the Festival for Mullins.
Last but by no means least came the horse simply known as “the machine”. Faugheen had looked invincible last season but questions began to be raised following a first ever defeat on his opening outing of the current campaign. He had his chance at redemption here as his conqueror that day, stablemate Nichols Canyon lined up to take him on once again in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
What followed was a front running masterclass, barring a slight mistake at the last, Faugheen was foot perfect in slamming Arctic Fire by 15 lengths with Nichols Canyon a further 13 lengths back in third. Those two horses are his main market rivals for the Champion Hurdle and Faugheen is starting to look an almost certain winner barring a fall. The bookmakers were impressed cutting the eight-year-old to as short as 1/4(Ladbrokes) for the Champion Hurdle.