Thursday 18 January 2018

Cheltenham 2015: Mullins mania hits the Cotswolds

Carlow trainer could win four races at Cheltenham today

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh make their way back from the gallops ahead of the Cheltenham Racing Festival 2015
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh make their way back from the gallops ahead of the Cheltenham Racing Festival 2015

St Patrick only gets one day to honour him every year but St Willie could well have four this week and the first of those is today as the Cheltenham Festival gets underway in front of the new face of Prestbury Park.

Right up until this morning, the finishing touches were being put to the venue that is going to be rocked to the core by a roar at around 1.30pm this afternoon.

It could be dreamland to think that Willie Mullins can win four races this afternoon or it could just one of those great sporting occasions that just comes around every now and again.

With Douvan running in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle alongside Shaneshill and Alvisio Ville, Un De Sceaux contesting the Arkle, Faugheen, Hurricane Fly and Arctic Fire in the Champion Hurdle plus Annie Power and Glens Melody in the Mares Hurdle (not even to mention Perfect Gentleman in the four-miler) Mullins has the strongest line-up ever of any man, woman or beast trying to have four-winners on the opening day and the chances are we won't get a better chance in our lifetime to see it happen.

Douvan and Annie Power look the stand out from a betting point of view as there is a fear that Un De Sceaux may not complete in the Arkle due to his free running style but there's probably no doubt either that if he does manage to get from the takeoff side to the landing side with Ruby Walsh still on his back at every fence, he'll blow his Arkle rivals out of the water.

Elsewhere on the card, The Job Is Right is the pick in the four-miler which is officially known as the Toby Balding National Hunt Chase.

Michael Hourigan's charge will be the mount of Derek O'Connor and if he can repeat his run in the Thyestes Chase when falling at the last behind Gold Cup hope Djakadam, he'll have to take a lot of stopping and O'Connor is one of the best riders in the race to boot.

In the handicaps, Black Thunder looks over priced for Paul Nicholls and Thomas Crapper seems to like Cheltenham and is the pick in the last.

Day one of the Cheltenham Festival assessed and not a mention of AP McCoy, the man that is going to walk into Cheltenham this morning knowing that it'll be his last Festival and while it might not be today, you know that somewhere over the next four days he is going to make his mark.


Cronin's Choice:

Cheltenham today

1.30pm Douvan

2.05pm Un De Sceaux

2.40pm Black Thunder

3.20pm Champion Hurdle

1 Faugheen

2 Jezki

3 Hurricane Fly

4pm Annie Power

4.40pm The Job is Right

5.15pm Thomas Crapper

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