Willie Mullins To Field Four Strong Attack In Cheltenham Gold Cup
Mullins To Run Four In Cheltenham Gold Cup
Willie Mullins speaking to the Racing Post on Wednesday morning has revealed that all being well in his final preparations before the Cheltenham festival, he will run four in the Magners Gold Cup.
The four that are set to run are Kemboy, Bellshill, Al Boum Photo and Invitation Only in what looks to be Mullins strongest team of runners ever in a Gold Cup.
The Grade 1 feature race of the four days is a race that has eluded the master trainer during his career and is definitely a contest he would like to pick up.
Kemboy looks to be the trainers best chance in the three miles two and a half furlong contest after being one of the most progressive horses of the season and turning into a true staying chase horse.
This season he has been emphatic and according to Mullins is in fine fettle at home in his preparation for the race that every trainer wants to win in there careers.
The seven year old owned by the Supreme Horse Racing Club is unbeaten since April 2018 where he has ran four times since then and has just got better and better with each run.
This season it has been a totally different ball game for the gelding who was on the books to be aimed for the Ryanair Chase running over distances of 2 and a half miles and proving difficult to beat.
However, Mullins stepped him up to three miles on his latest run and he was the most impressive he has been in his entire career as a racehorse.
Leopardstown was the venue where race goers witnessed a rising star when in the three mile Grade 1 Savills Chase taking on 11 runners, which most of will be heading to the Gold Cup, he went on to lad the spoils by a clear distance really putting his name in the hat for the Gold Cup.
He has not been seen since that run at the back end of December but has been teetering around the top of the betting market, staying between at 8, 9 and 10/1.
If coming on for that win over Christmas and staying on up the hill which has been his downfall in his previous exploits at Cheltenham he definitely can not be ruled out.
The next best in terms of how the betting market see's Mullins runners finishing up in the Gold Cup is Bellshill who is currently 14/1 to land the spoils and looks one of the best each way chances at this price for the race.
This nine year old first came on the scene and was highlighted as a one day Gold Cup potential horse at the back end of the last campaign when in April 2018 he went on to land the Punchestown Gold Cup.
From there this season the target has always been the big one on the Friday and in his two prep runs he has shown a lot of likeable ability that could see him enter calculations on the big day.
His first run of the season was in behind stablemate Kemboy at Leopardstown in the Grade 1 Savills Chase where he finished a staying on fourth.
Bearing in mind this was first start of the season and his stablemates second he wasn't all that far away and looked like there was plenty of scope to progress.
This was the exact case on his latest outing when he took on a four strong field at Leopardstown in the Grade 1 Irish Gold Cup and he went on to win the contest on the line.
This ultimately showed how much he has improved throughout the season and if progressing at the same rate could feature strongly near the death in the race.
(Credit Racing Post) His trainer said: "Bellshill is now the horse we thought he would be. It's all coming together. He jumps particularly well and stays. There is more improvement in him from what he showed at Leopardstown."
Al Boum Photo 16/1
Al Boum Photo is a horse that also holds a lot of potential for the master Irish trainer as he believes there is far more to come from this seven year old who had a torrid time at the festival last season when falling.
After taking a nasty fall at Cheltenham and landing on his jockey Ruby Walsh and managing to fracture his leg he went to to Fairyhouse where he showed his true class landing the Ryanair Gold Cup in style.
He then went to Punchestown in his final race of the season the Champion novice Chase and he looked sure to land the contest running up to the last before one of the strangest moments of the season and ran out of the circuit taking Finian's Oscar with him.
This season he was back at Tramore for his seasonal reappearance and he went on to land the seven runner Listed Savills Chase beating three of his stablemates and looking like a horse who means Business.
This has been his only run of the season, with there being know discussion from his trainer about whether he will run again before the big one.
At 16/1 he is not to be under estimated with Willie Mullins saying: "I don't think we have seen the best of Al Boum Photo yet. There is more to come."
Invitation Only 40/1
The final horse of Mullins' Gold Cup quartet is Invitation only who is owned by the same people as Bellshill and this horse at 40/1 is truly an outsider of the field but isn't without a slim chance.
Mullins is an expert at getting his horses fit for Cheltenham so no matter what price they are leading up to the race you should always take interest.
This eight year old has only had one run at the festival and he was pulled up in the Grade 1 JLT Novices Chase in which he ran no race at all.
This season he started off in the same race as Al Boum Photo where he finished an encouraging third just in behind him but looked like he was crying out for a further trip.
He was granted this in his last run to date at Gowran Park where he was stepped up to 3 mile 1 furlong in the Grade 3 Thystes Handicap Chase and he went on to win by a clear distance.
This put his name amongst the Gold Cup runners, showing how well he stays and looking like even further would suit him more and with the hill at Cheltenham this is only a positive.
He is an outsider for a reason but is sure to be competitive in the running of the Grade 1 contest.