‘Blue-riband’ Cheltenham Gold Cup is the one Mullins really wants to win
Could this be the year the Bagenalstown trainer captures the one that has eluded him?
Willie Mullins has expressed his desire to nail a Cheltenham Gold Cup win after several near misses. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
Mullins also plans to run the Graham Wylie-owned pair Boston Bob and On His Own in the race, leaving Walsh with a potential selection quandary.
“The way the three of them ran in their last races, Djakadam ran the best trial, the way he won the Thyestes. But a lot will depend on what Ruby thinks and what they do in their homework,” said the trainer, who indicated his desire to win the Gold Cup.
“It really is the blue-riband of our sport. I’ve been very lucky in the Irish version, had just one runner in the French one, and been runner-up four times at Cheltenham. So it would be great to finally win it,” he said.
“We certainly wouldn’t like to lose Paul, but if it arises we will deal with it,” he said. “If it does arise, a lot would depend on what Paul wants to do. It would be very tough, but I’m always sympathetic to how a jockey’s earning window can be very short.”
Townend is in line to pick up a strong book of Cheltenham rides despite Walsh having first pick from the Mullins team, including potentially teaming up with his old ally Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle.
“Paul was a champion jockey at a very young age and there’s no doubt he’s a big race jockey and a great judge of pace. He’s developing his own style and confidence all the time and is still only 24,” Mullins said.
Annie Power is hot favourite for the OLBG Mares Hurdle in two weeks’ time but Mullins warned she cannot miss a day in her preparation after a hold-up in December.
“Everything is 100 per cent with her, but she can’t afford to miss a day between now and Cheltenham,” he said. “We had all season to get Quevega fit. Annie Power missed December, but we’re happy with her.”
In other news, the Grade 1 novice highlight at Fairyhouse’s Easter festival, formerly known as the Powers Gold Cup, will be known as the Ryanair Gold Cup this season. The €100,000 event will be the highlight of the Easter Sunday card on April 5th.