Mullins eyeing a fourth successive Newmarket Cesarewitch win

M C Muldoon installed as favourite while top trainer outlines plans for jump stars Appreciate It and Ferny Hollow

Willie Mullins is keen to extend his dominance of Newmarket's Cesarewitch to a remarkable fourth year in a row on Saturday but is also starting to pencil in plans for his army of jumps stars.

Those who reckon Appreciate It could put it up to Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle in March are likely to be disappointed as the impressive Cheltenham Festival winner is set to go over fences this winter.

Another Mullins star with a novice chase campaign ahead of him is the hugely exciting Ferny Hollow.

Like Appreciate It, the 2019 Champion Bumper winner is as low as 8-1 in some ante-post lists for the 2022 Champion Hurdle on the back of a single start over flights last November when beating no less than Bob Olinger at Gowran. He was later ruled out for the rest of last season with a leg issue.


However both horses looks like being switched to the bigger obstacles for the coming campaign.

“I imagine Appreciate It is going novice chasing. I haven’t really sat down and thought about it but he has schooled over fences and he’s a good jumper.

“At the moment we are just getting him fit. At his age though [Appreciate It turns eight in January] I think that would be the way to go.

“Ferny is in great shape. I imagine he will go chasing although I haven’t spoken to connections. We haven’t made any plans made yet for anything to start off. We’re only in early October,” Mullins said on Monday.

He also said he is prepared to keep his top two-mile chase horses, Energumene and Chacun Pour Soi, apart for as long as possible this winter.

Ahead of a potential Queen Mother Champion Chase clash with Shishkin next March, that could see Chacun Pour Soi running in England more prior to the Cheltenham Festival.

“I imagine we will try to keep them apart for as long as we can. It’s possible Chacun could [go to England]. He’s a horse that might travel more. He’s mature enough now,” Mullins said.

If the champion National Hunt trainer is starting to prepare his big winter guns for the long campaign ahead over jumps, then this weekend looks an optimum one for Mullins on the level.

Best hope

He has dominated the Together For Racing Cesarewitch in Newmarket for the last three years with wins for Low Sun (2018), Stratum (2019) and Great White Shark last year.

The latter is among a bumper 11-strong entry left in the two-and-a-quarter -mile marathon by Mullins on Monday although bookmakers reckon it is M C Muldoon who is the Irishman's best hope.

M C Muldoon was immediately made a general 6-1 favourite to stretch the Mullins dominance to what would be record equalling fourth Cesarewitch victory.

Two English trainers, William Day and Matthew Dawson, each won the historic handicap four times in the 19th century.

Most of Mullins's Newmarket entries also hold the option of Sunday's €80,000 Paddy Power Irish Cesarewitch at the Curragh.

However the boosted £250,000 pot in Newmarket will make the cross-channel option a priority.

“The prizemoney in Newmarket makes it very alluring and what doesn’t get into Newmarket will probably go to the Curragh. That’s the way I’d be looking at it. We left in what we could and I would imagine a lot will depend on the ground,” Mullins said.

M C Muldoon appeared to be an unlucky loser at Royal Ascot in June when just beaten in the Ascot Hurdle. He was subsequently a runner-up again over hurdles at the Galway festival.

In other news, top French miler The Revenant will defend his Queen Elizabeth II Stakes crown at Ascot on Saturday week despite defeat at Longchamp over the Arc weekend.

The six year old failed to peg back Real World in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein but trainer Francis Graffard believes that should put The Revenant spot on for a potential clash with Palace Pier and Baaeed on British Champions Day.

“He hadn’t run since May and was probably a little bit rusty. The winner got a start on him, but I was very pleased with him and he’s come out of the race very well. If all goes well over the next 10 days or so he’ll be back at Ascot for the QEII,” Graffard reported.

“I’ve been impressed by Baaeed of course, and with Palace Pier in the race again it will be a very strong renewal.

“On good ground it would be difficult to beat those horses, but on soft ground The Revenant is a Group One horse and he’ll be fighting,” he added.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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