With the Cheltenham Festival just around the corner, horse racing’s top jockeys and trainers will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of glory at the Prestbury Park meeting. Last year proved to be a hugely entertaining Festival, with dominant performances and breakthrough achievements abounding.
One man who enjoyed an extremely successful Cheltenham last year was trainer Willie Mullins, who saddled an impressive seven winners, enough to land him the Festival’s top trainer accolade. Mullins has been one of the sport’s most decorated trainers for many years, and you can bet that he’ll be gearing all his efforts towards enjoying similar success at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. As the punters begin to examine the Cheltenham betting odds for 2021, let’s remind ourselves of Mullins’ seven winners last year.
Failing to register a winner on the opening day of the 2020 Festival, Mullins was forced to wait until the final race of day two to notch his first victory of the meeting. It was 11/1 shot Ferny Hollow who earned the honour, winning the Champion Bumper to relieve some of the angst Mullins undoubtedly felt having not seen any of his horses win up until that point. It would have taken a confident punter to predict that the Irish trainer would ultimately end up with the most winners of the entire Festival, but Mullins’ crop produced the goods as the Festival stretched into the latter stages.
Min started off a fine couple of days for Mullins by recording an excellent victory in the high-profile Ryanair Chase. It was a strong performance to hold off Saint Calvados and A Plus Tard, with Min winning by just a neck in the end. The Ryanair Chase is a race that every trainer wants to win, and it was Mullins who had the honour last year.
The Mares Novices’ Hurdle saw Concertista earn Mullins another winner on day three of the Festival, coming in ahead of Dolcita and Rayna’s World. At odds of 9/1, Concertista ensured that Mullins had a decent return of three winners heading into the final day of the Festival.
Few could have predicted the remarkable run of results that Mullins would enjoy on Gold Cup Day, and it all kicked off with a win for the aptly named Burning Victory in the Triumph Hurdle. In defeating the more favoured contenders Aspire Tower and Allmankind, Burning Victory set the tone for what would be a stellar run for Mullins on day four.
Thenext race brought another winner for Mullins, with Saint Roi, ridden by the in-form Barry Geraghty, claiming victory in the County Handicap Hurdle. That made it two in a row for Mullins on day four, but things were about to get even better.
Having guided Burning Victory to a first-place finish earlier in the day, jockey Paul Townend was once again in the saddle to steer Monkfish to victory in the Novices’ Hurdle. Mullins claimed a third win on the spin, as Monkfishsensationally held of the challenges of Latest Exhibition and Fury Road.
Al Boum Photo
The fourth race on the final day brought a fourth straight win for Mullins, and it was the sweetest of the lot, as Al Boum Photo delivered on the expectations to seal a second Gold Cup triumph in a row. It was further glory for Townend, who ended the meeting as the toast of the Festival for his fantastic performances on the final day.
If Mullins can replicate that success this year, it’ll be another Cheltenham Festival to remember for the Irish trainer.