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More Closutton stars to be unleashed this weekend

Willie Mullins will take the wraps off some more of his stars this weekend with Faugheen, Vautour and Ballycasey just three of the potential Grade One types that will not only represent the champion trainer this weekend but also all run in the now well-known colours of Rich and Susannah Ricci.

Not seen since winning the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown back in April, Faugheen is already the current Cheltenham Champion Hurdle favourite for next March and although Willie Mullins told the Herald yesterday that going to England, at Ascot, for his first start is not ideal, he is looking forward to starting off his season.

"I think it is a nice starting point for Faugheen," Mullins said. "I didn't particularity want to travel to England for his first start, but I think it gives us a chance to keep Faugheen and Annie Power separate and he gets a nice novice allowance in Saturday's race."

Annie Power is yet another star performer owned by Ricci and trained by Mullins and our wait to see her reappearance looks set to last for just over a week, as the trainer added: "The plan is that she will be at Fairyhouse for the Hatton's Grace Hurdle along with Zaidpour. That is the plan at the moment anyway."

Vautour is unbeaten over hurdles but really announced himself on the scene at Cheltenham when literally running away with the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and for many people he remains one of the most exciting prospects in the novice chase ranks this term.

"It looks like he will start on Sunday and with the ground getting deeper, we can bring horses away to work them and start running them," Mullins added.

His intended schooling engagement at Punchestown last weekend was cancelled but the manner in which Vautour jumped hurdles suggested that he could well be a natural over fences and Sunday will certainly tell us more about the horse who is currently as short as 4/1 in places for the Arkle at Cheltenham.

Ballycasey skips Ascot tomorrow in favour of going a few minutes up the road to Gowran Park for the 2m4f conditions chase.

Down Royal's meeting at the start of November featuring the Grade One JNWine.com Chase really marked the start of the jump season proper and with the ground just turning around about then it really did see the amount of Mullins runners increase.

Since that weekend at Down Royal, Willie Mullins has run 57 horses, winning with 21 - and 14 of those came in the last seven days.

If you can't beat him, or you can't join him, you simply have to enjoy it.


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