Ahead of the upcoming Dublin Racing Festival, Willie Mullins spoke about the significant runners he will be sending to Leopardstown, these are his thoughts on day one.
Across the eight grade one races over the weekend, Mullins will be very strongly represented with several Cheltenham favourites lined up to run.
Mullins admitted one or two of his potential runners still have some "good bits of work to do" before he fully commits to running at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.
With the retirement of David Mullins, the trainer confirmed plenty of riders would get opportunities.
Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle
In the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle, Willie Mullins will run Sharjah, Saldier and Saint Roi. All three ran at the same venue over Christmas with Sharjah coming out on top that day.
It's three Matheson Hurdles in a row for Sharjah #RTEracing #Leopardstown pic.twitter.com/c4oqiT651p
— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) December 29, 2020
Sharjah: "He doesn’t need to improve. I just hope he doesn’t make the same mistake he did last year in this race, when he jumped badly down the back and got lit up for Patrick.
"I wasn't surprised at the turn of foot he has (Sharjah last time out), we know he has that but I was probably surprised at how well he was travelling
My eye was drawn more towards Saint Roi and then to see him coming up I thought 'wow this fellow is really travelling' so I was happy to see that.
Saldier: "I hope he will run better, needs to improve on Christmas. His form against Espoir D’ Allen in Naas [when he fell at the last in November 2018] puts him in the Champion Hurdle picture, but we have to get him back to that form.
"He will need to improve to win this race on Saturday. We are finding a balance with him, and want to be ready to go in the spring."
Saint Roi: "I don’t know if it was tactics or his performance on the day. I was just hoping he would do better. Nothing has come to light since.
"We were all disappointed with him the last day. He needs to improve seven to 10 pounds from the last day
Ladbrokes Dublin Steeplechase
In the Ladbrokes Dublin Steeplechase, Chacun Pour Soi will attempt to defend his crown while Min will carry the same clours and Tornado Flyer also has an entry but the trainer is unsure if he will take part yet.
The top class Chacun Pour Soi goes one better than last year in the @paddypower Paddy's Rewards Club Chase @LeopardstownRC. Congratulations to the @WillieMullinsNH team ⭐ pic.twitter.com/Naa3sUTZKV
— Horse Racing Ireland (@HRIRacing) December 27, 2020
Chacun Pour Soi: "We got a run into him down at Cork and that paid off well. He is in great form.
"Our horses all missed the spring, Aintree, Punchestown and France. So they were a bit heavier and not as fit because they had such a long COVID break.
"I am hoping he will come on again. I'm hoping he will be just himself in that race.
Min & Tornado Flyer: "We still have Min there and we still have Tornado Flyer there.
"We might let Min take his chance, I think he will probably take his chance but we haven't fully decided which direction we are going with Tornado Flyer yet. We will see how he works during the week.
"Bryan Cooper rode him in the John Durkan, he said to bring him back in trip to two miles. I ran him in the three-mile race at Christmas and he jumped so badly early on and I thought it was a really good run considering what he did over the first mile.
"I will see what way the two races shape up."
Patrick Ward Solicitors Irish Arkle Novice Chase
In the Irish Arkle, Energumene will put his already considerable reputation on the line and Willie Mullins confirmed that his target for Cheltenham will also be over two miles taking on Shishkin. The Champion trainer also has Franco de Port and Unexcepted entered.
Energumene - very exciting talent and a fantastic jumper.
"A really good performance," says Ruby - but is it up to Shishkin level? #RoadToCheltenham pic.twitter.com/ETEZvB1Q6n
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 14, 2021
Energumene: "I just felt when he jumped so well let's see what he can do against better horses. I would like plenty of juice in the ground, he is a big unit. Energumene has always looked a natural chaser.
"Hopefully, he can be up to the level of previous winners [Douvan and Footpad] they were superstars. He has a fair bit to go and will have to come out and show us he can do that.
Franco de Port : "Was he lucky at Christmas? If they go a mad pace he will come along and mop up the spoils."
Unexcepted: "He is a very good horse over two miles as well so it will be interesting to see if he turns up and he has a very forward style of running."
Nathaniel Lacy Solicitors Novice Hurdle
In the opening race of the festival, the Nathaniel Lacy Solicitors Novice Hurdle over two miles and six furlongs where Mullins has a host of entries with Gaillard du Mesnil the shortest price.
Gaillard Du Mesnil looks another lovely prospect for Willie Mullins 😍
— ODDSbible Racing (@ODDSbibleRacing) December 28, 2020
Gaillard du Mesnil: "He has been very good, the horse he beat (Mr Incredible) won yesterday and others from the race won too. I'd rather the race was two-and-a-half miles, to be honest.
"When he got beaten a lot of our horses needed the run at the time. He was a bit keen at Christmas, for Paul so I hope he will settle a bit better today.
"We want to divide our troops, Appreciate it is good over two miles so this lad has to step up in trip."
Stattler: "He just wasn't right for Thurles. He's back right again. I think so (step up in trip a positive). He will probably be better over three miles."
Blue Lord: "We will try different tactics with him. He had a tough race that day (on January 13). We will see how he works during the week, we will have a look at him then. I won't commit him yet.
Ganapathi: "I am hoping there will be a fair bit of improvement in him. It was only the third run of his life when he was beaten by an experienced racehorse in Dreal Deal. He arrived at the last and he didn’t know what to do. I'm hoping there's going to be a good bit of improvement in Ganapathi."
Shadow Rider: "I think he's a horse that's improving. For some reason, he's very green. He looks like a horse that could improve a good bit I think."
N'golo: "I'm going to have a good think about running him in this race. We might just let him take his chance over this trip."
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