Angus McNae
Angus McNae's Racing UK Blog
Wednesday 27th January 2016

Racing UK

Save some time and enjoy the Mullins domination

Over the next few weeks there will be endless discussion about how to get the Willie Mullins good things beaten at The Festival.

Such pontification will be of interest to many, but surely pointless as the good things are just going to win aren't they?

Instead of desperately trying to find jumping flaws, doubts about ground or trip we should accept that Mullins and Ruby Walsh are going to clean up and we should embrace that fact.

In years to come those that tried to find ways to beat Mullins will remember with great fondness the great era of his domination – it is best to enjoy it now and save some time.

© Caroline Norris

Superlatives are hard to find when it comes to Faugheen - he doesn't really look like a champion but under his rather plain exterior he houses a massive engine.

He demolished the BHB Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle field on Sunday in which Mullins had the second and the third.

The Stan James Champion Hurdle now looks a formality in March and the only question remaining is to ask which of his also-rans will round out the Trifecta.

Nichols Canyon in third failed to run up to form, and I think he would be a very interesting contender for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle if he was stepped up in trip.

He clearly needs freshening up after some big efforts lately. If he does go for the World Hurdle he will of course have to beat another of his stable companions in the form of either Annie Power or Vroum Vroum Mag. He could be an interesting each-way player in the Inglis Drever colours.

Douvan was a smooth winner of the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novices' Chase on the same card, beating inferior rivals with ease and jumping with great elan.

© Caroline Norris

As with Faugheen there appear to be no flaws in his make up, and we know he was one of the fastest two-mile hurdlers around last year who goes well at Cheltenham. That's the Racing Post Arkle Trophy in the Mullins bag then, and no need to tax the brain cells too much on that one. 

At Ascot on Saturday it was all about Mullins as well, and in particular Un De Sceaux in the Sodexo Clarence House Chase.

The favourite for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase readily disposed of Sire De Grugy, jumping with fluency and appearing more tractable than has been the case in the past. 

Worryingly for Sprinter Sacre and any other Champion Chase aspirants was that Mullins stated afterwards that Un De Sceaux was now listening to Ruby and consequently was jumping better.

This suggests to me that the horse has more to learn about settling and jumping - he seems to only just be maturing into the complete article and it would be my contention that he will be even better at The Festival and will probably win the Champion Chase with ease.


The other Mullins winner at Ascot was Vroum Vroum Mag, who easily landed the Mares’ Hurdle.

She has options, and where she goes will very much depend on Annie Power.

Vroum Vroum Mag
© Caroline Norris
Vroum Vroum Mag

When interviewed on Racing UK by Lydia Hislop, Rich Ricci stated that he would like to get a run into Annie Power before Cheltenham and if he could then the World Hurdle would probably be her target.

If not she may go for the easier option of the Mares’ Hurdle. As far as Vroum Vroum Mag is concerned I think she would be a good thing in the Mares Hurdle, but the World Hurdle would be tough. As far as both of these mares are concerned its a case of watch this space.

Away from Mullins’s domination we saw some grueling and attritional action at Haydock on Peter Marsh Chase day.

The New One won the Champion Hurdle Trial in nothing more than workmanlike fashion.

Talk of throwing down a big challenge for the Champion Hurdle after that performance is surely no more than the stuff of dreams and it was really refreshing to hear Dave Nevison on Racing UK tell it as it is and effectively say the horse has no chance of beating Faugheen.

That said he is a talented horse who would be better on decent ground, and a tilt at the Aintree Hurdle over two and a half miles is probably his best option.

Nigel Twiston-Davies completed a double on the card following the New One's success when Bristol De Mai won the Grade Two Novices Chase.

Daryl Jacob was always prominent and sensibly conserved energy when headed by Amore Alato at the 11th fence.

This was clearly astute race riding, but as it turned out his mount had so much in hand that he would have won however the race had been run.

This horse’s likely target is the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, where he is a double-figure price. There will be worse each-way bets in the race than this talented individual.

The Peter Marsh Chase was won by Cloudy Too for Sue Smith and Danny Cook, a shock result in that a staying chase on a Saturday was not won by Kerry Lee!

Reve De Sivola was favourite for the race, given that he looked to be very well handicapped on the balance of his hurdles form, but it does not matter how well treated you are if you cannot jump and this will surely be the final abortive foray into chasing for him. Back to three-mile hurdling in the mud at Ascot - that's what he really likes.