Willie Mullins well-placed to continue Dublin Racing Festival dominance

Champion trainer has six of the eight ante-post favourites for weekend Grade One prizes

Galopin Des Champs is set to start an overwhelming favourite for Saturday’s Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup as trainer Willie Mullins aims to continue his dominance of the Dublin Racing Festival.

The champion trainer has saddled a remarkable 30 winners during the five years of Leopardstown’s €2 million showpiece event which takes place again this weekend.

Last year’s haul of seven winners included six of the eight Grade One prizes up for grabs and Mullins’s influence once again looks like being the dominant element.

Galopin Des Champs was immediately installed a 1-3 shot for Saturday’s €250,000 highlight after just half a dozen entries were left in at Tuesday’s forfeit stage. They include a trio of other Mullins hopes including Stattler and the 2021 winner Kemboy.


Last year’s hero Conflated skips the race this time leaving Gordon Elliott to rely on Fury Road.

On Sunday the Mullins pair State Man and Vauban will take on Honeysuckle in the featured €200,000 Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle.

Henry de Bromhead’s mare is seeking to win the race for a fourth year in a row and bounce back from losing her unbeaten record at Fairyhouse in December.

Honeysuckle will enjoy huge popular support although betting markets indicate State Man is going to start favourite to give Mullins a record seventh win in the race.

The sport’s dominant figure is also likely to saddle hot Grade One favourites Blue Lord (Ladbrokes Dublin Chase) and Facile Vega (Tattersalls Novice Hurdle) on Sunday.

However, the scale of Mullins’s dominance is perhaps underlined most in Saturday’s Donohoe Marquees Spring Juvenile Hurdle. Just two of the nine horses that remain in contention to line up are not from the all-powerful Closutton yard.

Of the pair, Ascending was beaten by Mullins’s Tekao at the track over Christmas while Brendan Duke’s Darraby has never raced over jumps before.

Both of Mullins’s leading Triumph Hurdle hopes, Lossiemouth and Blood Destiny, are in the mix to run.

Eight of the 15 races up for grabs this weekend hold Grade One status and Saturday’s opening Nathaniel Lacy Solicitors Novice Hurdle will have a rare cross-channel starter in Weveallbeencaught.

Nigel Twiston Davies’s runner is 6-1 for a rare contest not topped in the betting by a Mullins runner. Barry Connell’s course winner Good Land is a 7-4 favourite in some lists.

La Bague Au Roi remains the only British-trained winner in Dublin Racing Festival history although there were no raiders allowed in 2021 due to the Pandemic.

Alan King has kept open the option of taking in Sunday’s Dublin Chase with Sceau Royal although the same ownership has the hot favourite Blue Lord.

The only other non-Mullins ante-post Grade One favourite this weekend is Gordon Elliott’s Mighty Potter for Sunday’s Ladbrokes Novice Chase.

Ground conditions on the steeplechase course at Leopardstown on Tuesday were ‘yielding’ with a mostly dry outlook for the rest of the week. Watering will continue on the chase track.

The going on the hurdles circuit is ‘yielding to soft’.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column