Jumps Season - At The Races

Willie Mullins Stable Tour

    Willie Mullins retained his title in dramatic fashion last season and here the eleven-time champion trainer gives us the inside scoop on his formidable team for 2017/18 which includes a number of National Hunt heavyweights that could take many top honours in the coming campaign.
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What more can be said about Willie Mullins that hasn’t already been said?

While he has been considered a top trainer for well over two decades, claiming his first Champion Trainer title in 2000/01, it has been since 2007/08 that Mullins has taken his performance to previously unheard of levels.

In February 2013, with over two months of the season remaining, he broke Aidan O’Brien’s record haul of winners in a season of 156 in 1995/96 and eventually went on to reach a remarkable total of 193 winners.

Well established as the most successful Irish-based trainer in the history of the Cheltenham Festival with 54 winners at the meeting, Mullins has trained a sequence of household names such as Florida Pearl, Hedgehunter, Quevega, Hurricane Fly, Faugheen and Douvan.

Winning the title last season, however, must go down as one of the greatest achievements by the Closutton-based trainer.

Against all odds Mullins dramatically pipped Gordon Elliott to retain his Trainers’ Championship on the final day, having been playing catch up throughout to the rival who was the chief beneficiary of his well-documented split with leading owners Gigginstown House Stud at the start of the campaign.

Mullins will be strongly fancied to take a twelfth trainers' title and many other top honours in the upcoming season, where he has a formidable team of horses at his disposal.

He was good enough to talk attheraces.com’s Kevin Blake through his string.

All Horses

Annamix

Form Profile:

A French import, he finished second on his debut in a hurdle race at Vichy in September 2016.

Trainer Says:

He’s a nice horse that will go novice hurdling. I’m hoping he’ll be fully effective at around two miles. I don’t think he’ll be out in the next few weeks, but I’d be hopeful that he will run before Christmas.

Bacardys (FR)

Form Profile:

A 151-rated hurdler, he won all three of his completed starts in novice hurdles last season, most notably the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown in February and the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.

Trainer Says:

He’s in good order and the plan is to go novice chasing with him. I think he is probably more a stayer in the making. We have always thought a lot of him and he didn’t surprise us with how well he did last season.

Video Form
11 Nov 2017:
28 Apr 2017:
12 Feb 2017:
27 Dec 2016:
20 Nov 2016:

Benie Des Dieux (FR)

Form Profile:

A French import, she made a highly-impressive Irish debut when winning a mares’ maiden chase by 30 lengths at Limerick’s Christmas meeting.

Trainer Says:

She was very good in her first start for us last season, but she had a little setback after that so we decided to leave her off the track for the rest of the campaign. She’ll be ready to go soon in mares’ chases and she can hopefully progress up through the ranks.

Video Form
29 Dec 2016:

Carter Mckay (GB)

Form Profile:

A winning point-to-pointer, he won bumpers at Leopardstown and at Naas in impressive style prior to running below form in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival and in the equivalent contest at the Punchestown Festival.

Trainer Says:

He is back in good form and will start off novice hurdling soon. Regarding his runs at Cheltenham and Punchestown, he was a little bit disappointing and they left me wondering whether he needs soft ground to be seen at his best. I think he’ll stay well over hurdles.

Video Form
25 Nov 2017:
26 Apr 2017:
11 Feb 2017:
28 Dec 2016:

Cilaos Emery (FR)

Form Profile:

A 153-rated hurdler, he won two of his four starts over hurdles last season, most notably the Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.

Trainer Says:

He’s a nice type that will always like a dig in the ground. We haven’t made any final decisions yet, but I think we are going to stay hurdling with him. He’ll probably stick to trips around two miles. He won’t be one of the earlier ones to run, but will hopefully be out by Christmas.

Video Form
3 Dec 2017:
25 Apr 2017:
5 Feb 2017:
18 Dec 2016:
26 Apr 2016:

Djakadam (FR)

Form Profile:

A 167-rated chaser, he is well established as one of the leading staying chasers around having finished in the first four in the last three renewals of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He has won the last two renewals of the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase in December.

Trainer Says:

He was a little bit disappointing in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but he was good back at Punchestown after that. He’s in good order and I suppose he’s likely to go a similar route to what he did last season, though he will have an entry in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Video Form
10 Dec 2017:
26 Apr 2017:
28 Dec 2016:
11 Dec 2016:
27 Apr 2016:

Douvan (FR)

Form Profile:

A 174-rated chaser, he was the outstanding novice chaser and made a smooth transition to open company last season, winning his first three starts until suffering a stress fracture in his pelvis when disappointing in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Says:

He’s in good shape and has made a good recovery from his injury, which was a relatively minor setback in the greater scheme of things. We’ll start him off over two miles and plan our next move after that.

Video Form
5 Feb 2017:
27 Dec 2016:
11 Dec 2016:
28 Apr 2016:
24 Jan 2016:

Faugheen

Form Profile:

A 176-rated hurdler, he has won 11 of his 12 career starts over hurdles, but injuries have kept him off the track since he won the Irish Champion Hurdle in spectacular style in January 2016.

Trainer Says:

He’s likely to start off in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown. We did things a bit differently over the summer with him, as he missed most of last season and wasn’t really in need of a break at the end of it, so we kept him going. As a result of that, I think he’ll be quite a bit more forward at the beginning of his campaign this time around than he has been in the past. We would have no problem going two-and-a-half miles with him, but we’ll get him started back and make our next decision after that.

Video Form
19 Nov 2017:
24 Jan 2016:
15 Nov 2015:
1 May 2015:

Getabird

  • 5-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Getaway - Fern Bird (Revoque)
  • Trained by: W P Mullins
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 10 Dec 2017 13:00
  • Result: Won/12, tracked leaders, 5th halfway, closer in 3rd 3 out, travelled well to lead entering straight, pushed out to assert approaching last, ridden and kept on well run-in
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A winning point-to-pointer, he impressed in winning both his starts in bumpers last season prior to injury ruling him out of the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Says:

He’s in great order and I’m looking forward to him going novice hurdling this season. I think he’ll be more of a stayer over hurdles. He should make his comeback in November.

Video Form
10 Dec 2017:
26 Jan 2017:
4 Dec 2016:

Great Field (FR)

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Great Pretender - Eaton Lass (Definate Article)
  • Trained by: W P Mullins
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 27 Apr 2017 18:40
  • Result: Won/8, made all, soon went on, slight mistake 3rd, reduced lead 7th, good jump 4 out and extended lead again, slight mistake 2 out, asserted from before last, ridden out and stayed on well run-in
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 161-rated chaser, he was unbeaten in four starts as a novice chaser last season, culminating in an impressive victory in the Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival.

Trainer Says:

I’m very happy with him. He’s a completely different model of horse to Un De Sceaux, but they do go about it in a similar way, as they like to get on with it, gallop and jump. We haven’t picked out a starting point for him yet as we have a few horses that are in the same division, but we’ll sort all that out closer to the time.

Video Form
27 Apr 2017:
25 Mar 2017:
5 Mar 2017:
26 Jan 2017:
28 Feb 2016:

Limini (IRE)

  • 6-y-o; chestnut mare
  • Breeding: Peintre Celebre - Her Grace (Spectrum)
  • Trained by: W P Mullins
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 14 Mar 2017 16:10
  • Result: 3/17, held up mid-division, tracked leaders 4 out, driven to challenge on inside between last 2, not fluent last, soon ridden, kept on and every chance flat, no extra towards finish
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 152-rated hurdler, she made a winning return in a Listed hurdle at Punchestown prior to finishing a close third in the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last season.

Trainer Says:

She is in good shape and seems to be a stronger mare this season. She’s classy enough to compete over two miles and she has the stamina for two-and-a-half miles. She could potentially start off in something like the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle.

Video Form
22 Feb 2017:
30 Apr 2016:
30 Jan 2016:
16 May 2015:

Melon

Form Profile:

A 152-rated hurdler, he made an impressive winning Irish and hurdling debut in a maiden at Leopardstown in January and went on to finish second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the equivalent race at the Punchestown Festival.

Trainer Says:

I think he’ll stick to hurdling this season and he could well start off in the Grade 2 hurdle at Down Royal on November 3rd. I wouldn’t be worried about stepping him up to two-and-a-half miles if the right race presented itself for him. I’d be hoping he can make the jump he needs to make to be competitive in open Grade 1 company as he has very few miles on the clock over hurdles and really should be open to improvement.

Video Form
3 Nov 2017:
25 Apr 2017:
29 Jan 2017:

Min (FR)

Form Profile:

A 160-rated chaser, he was one of the most exciting novice chasers of last season, but having impressed in winning his first two starts over fences, injury ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Trainer Says:

He just had niggly issues in the second half of last season, but he’s back in very good shape now. We’ll start him off over two miles and make a plan after that. He’s likely to be ready quite soon.

Video Form
25 Nov 2017:
26 Dec 2016:
27 Nov 2016:
9 Jan 2016:
10 Dec 2015:

Next Destination

Form Profile:

A winning point-to-pointer, he won a bumper at Fairyhouse prior to finishing fourth in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival and then second in the equivalent contest at the Punchestown Festival.

Trainer Says:

He looks a staying type for novice hurdles and he’ll be out soon. I’d be hopeful he can be a better hurdler than bumper horse.

Video Form
11 Nov 2017:
27 Apr 2017:
1 Jan 2017:

Nichols Canyon

Form Profile:

A 164-rated hurdler, he has won eight Grade 1 races over hurdles including the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Trainer Says:

He will go down the staying hurdle route. He might start off in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse or the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan.

Video Form
3 Dec 2017:
27 Apr 2017:
29 Jan 2017:
29 Dec 2016:
20 Nov 2016:

Penhill (GB)

Form Profile:

A 150-rated hurdler, he won six of his nine starts over hurdles last season including the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Says:

It’ll probably be after Christmas until we see him back on the track. We had hoped to run him on the Flat last summer, but it didn’t work out and we had to put him on the back boiler for a while. When he returns he’ll go down the staying hurdle route.

Video Form
26 Apr 2017:
29 Dec 2016:
4 Dec 2016:
2 Oct 2016:
17 Sep 2016:

Salsaretta (FR)

Form Profile:

A French import, she was touched off in a Listed hurdle at Auteuil in September 2016.

Trainer Says:

She’s a nice novice hurdling prospect that will probably start off at two miles.

Sayar

Form Profile:

A recruit off the Flat, he has won both his starts over hurdles in impressive style including a Grade 3 novice hurdle at Tipperary in October.

Trainer Says:

He has done nothing wrong since he came to us. He’s a lovely big horse that can only improve. I’d imagine the Royal Bond will be his next target and there’s a good chance he might go straight there without another run. He’s a good mover, but he’s a big strong horse and he should be well able to handle heavy ground.

Video Form
1 Oct 2017:
25 Aug 2017:
5 Oct 2016:
18 Sep 2016:

Un De Sceaux (FR)

  • 9-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Denham Red - Hotesse De Sceaux (April Night)
  • Trained by: W P Mullins
  • Last Race: Cork, 10 Dec 2017 14:20
  • Result: Won/5, led, ran freely early, 2 lengths clear at 6th, asserted before 4 out, clear after 2 out, kept on well, eased closing stages, very easily
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 167-rated chaser, he is a seven-time Grade 1 winner over fences that arguably put up the most impressive performance of his career when winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Trainer Says:

He’s big in himself, but hopefully we’ll get him out at the same sort of time that we started him off last season. He’ll probably follow a similar sort of path to what he did last season.

Video Form
10 Dec 2017:
25 Apr 2017:
27 Dec 2015:
30 Apr 2015:
25 Jan 2015:

Vroum Vroum Mag (FR)

Form Profile:

A 152-rated hurdler and 154-rated chaser, she has won 12 of her 15 starts for Mullins, with her most notable successes coming in the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the Punchestown Champion Hurdle in 2016. She finished second to Apple’s Jade in the 2017 renewal of the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Trainer Says:

She got injured at Punchestown last time, but she’s back now and seems in good form. I think we’ll mix it between hurdling and chasing with her this season depending on what opportunities present themselves.

Video Form
28 Apr 2017:
28 Jan 2017:
28 Dec 2016:
4 Dec 2016:
29 Apr 2016:

Yorkhill

  • 7-y-o; chestnut gelding
  • Breeding: Presenting - Lightning Breeze (Saddlers' Hall)
  • Trained by: W P Mullins
  • Last Race: Fairyhouse, 16 Apr 2017 16:00
  • Result: 2/6, held up early, ran freely, jumped left throughout, led after 4th, badly left at 5th and 6 out, slight mistake 3 out, soon disputed, led before 2 out, ran around approaching last and jumped awkwardly, soon ridden and headed, rallied and just held at line
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 163-rated chaser, he won three of his four starts over fences last season including the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Says:

He’s in great shape, but it’s hard to know what to make of him. We haven’t made any decisions regarding what route to send him down and I have a few little things I want to try with him at home before we do. We know that he can handle two miles very well, but his pedigree screams stamina. I’d say it’ll be November before he runs.

Video Form
16 Apr 2017:
22 Jan 2017:
17 Dec 2016:
26 Apr 2016:
6 Dec 2015:

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