When it comes to the Cheltenham Festival, there’s no trainer more successful than Willie Mullins. The Irishman, has saddled 72 winners since Tourist Attraction in 1995’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdles. Mullins has been the Festival’s leading trainer on seven occasions, most recently winning the accolade back-to-back in 2019-20 – and also held, but now shares, the record for the most wins at a single Festival, with eight.
With the 2021 renewal just around the corner, ready to kick off on Tuesday 16th March, you can guarantee that horses from Mullins’ yard will be up there as the favourites on every betting exchange. But as we look ahead to this year’s Cheltenham Festival, let’s look back at Mullins’ seven heaven, at 2020’s meeting.
Forced to end day one of the Cheltenham Festival without a single winner, Mullins left it late on day two – finally getting off the mark with success in the Champion Bumper. Ferny Hollow was an 11/1 shout, but took the lead in the final furlong and held strongly to upset the odds, and claim a two-and-a-half length victory over the favourite, and stablemate, Appreciate It. Sadly, injury has forced the gelding out of this year’s Festival.
One of the highest-profile races on day three of the Festival is the Ryanair Chase, and Min landed Mullins one of two victories, after putting in a fine performance, with Paul Townend in the saddle. Favourite, A Plus Tard, had to settle for a third-place finish, while this was a battle between Min and Saint Calvados – with the former winning it by a neck!
After coming second by a short-head in the 2019 Mares’ Novices’ Chase, Concertista secured the win last year – dominantly too, by 12 lengths. At odds of 9/1, Concertista was an outside shout, but the mare led approaching the final hurdle and secured Mullins his third winner of the Festival. Having also won on her last two outings, the seven-year-old is the favourite ahead of next month’s race.
The first of four victories for Mullins on Gold Cup Day came in the opening race, with Burning Victory, charging to, well, victory in the Triumph Hurdle. The aptly-named mare beat the more-fancied Aspire Tower and Allmankind, while there was a shock as favourite Goshen unseated jockey Jamie Moore, allowing Mullins’ mare to capitalise and record a memorable victory.
In-form jockey Barry Geraghty rode Saint Roi to a first-place finish in the County Handicap Hurdle, landing Mullins yet another Cheltenham Festival winner. No shocks there, with the gelding the favourite ahead of the race, and securing a four-and-a-half length margin victory over Aramon. Two down, and five races of the day to go…
It was three-in-three on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, with jockey Paul Townend at the winner’s enclosure once again, as Monkfish won the Novices’ Hurdle. It was a close-run thing, as the chestnut gelding staved off the challenges of Latest Exhibition (lost by a neck), Fury Road (by a quarter of a length) and Thyme Hill (one-and-half lengths), to secure victory.
Al Boum Photo
In the feature race on the final day, Al Boum Photo made it back-to-back wins in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, landing Mullins not only his seventh winner of the Festival, but his second ever Gold Cup success. It was further glory for Townend in the saddle, who ended the meeting as the leading jockey. The favourite beat Santini by a neck to win the Blue Riband event, and there’s high expectation for Al Boum Photo to make a hat-trick of victories in this year’s race, as his Festival preparations get underway.