The Willie Mullins Cheltenham Trixie, by Alan Marron

Alan Marron is on hand to mark your card for the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival

Alan Marron has a feeling that it’s going to be a bumper Cheltenham Festival meeting for trainer Willie Mullins


Alan Marron


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ARKLE CHASE, Tiesday March 10th, 2:10pm

CASH BACK is a very interesting runner for the Closutton maestro Willie Mullins. This horse reminds me very much of the recently retired Un De Sceaux. He likes to get on with things and I would think it will be no different on Day One of the Cheltenham Festival.

On his debut over the larger obstacles he made a decent horse in Cappucimix look average when he quickened away from him at Navan to win by seven lengths impressively. Cappucimix has let the form down a little since but finished second last time out in Gowran Park so it shows that he will be able to pick up a beginner chase sooner rather than later. On his next run Cash Back was even more impressive when he absolutely bolted up at Naas leaving good horses like Zero Ten and Dunvegan well in his wake. He was electric over his fences and the most noticeable thing was how Danny Mullins struggled to pull him up after the line.

Patrick Mullins was talking to Lydia Hislop on Racing TV a week or so later and said the ground was nice at Naas that day and it was a very very good performance. He also highlighted the fact that the horse ran through the line and struggled to be pulled up.

Then he went to the Dublin Racing Festival where he finished second to Notebook. This race for me was a little messy. Cash Back made a couple of sloppy errors and that ultimately cost him as he went down by an ever diminishing ¾ of a length. I don’t think that he ultimately needs to make the running at Cheltenham but if he does and he gets into a rhythm he will be very hard to beat. The pace looks very strong in the Arkle as a number of horses like to get on with it.

Cash Back looks the value to me and I think he will be very hard to beat.

**Cash Back’s price as at 8pm on Wednesday March 4th was 6/1



RSA CHASE, Wednesday March 11th, 2:10pm

The one horse that stand out here, for me, is ALLAHO trained by the master Willie Mullins and owned by Cheveley Park Stud. This horse is very lightly raced but had very strong form over hurdles last season which culminated in a very fine third-place finish behind Minello Indo and Commander Of Fleet in the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle.

Minella Indo upheld the form when Allaho was second behind him at Punchestown and Willie Mullins was quick to suggest Allaho will be better over fences next season. This has proved to be the case. Allaho made his debut over the larger obstacles at Leopardstown over Christmas where he finished an excellent second behind stablemate Easy Game. Easy Game has since franked the form nicely by making Faugheen pull out all the stops at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Allaho was then very impressive at Fairyhouse winning easily by 21 lengths. Paul Townend never had a moment’s worry as he set off in front and just extended the advantage all the way. Himself and Minello Indo are likely to renew rivalry in this race and on the prices at the minute they are closely matched. I think Allaho should be favourite for this race with many firms and if Paul can get him into a nice rhythm early he looks one of the best bets of the week for me.

Willie Mullins has the ammunition this year for what could be an unbelievable week for the Carlow trainer. It could exceed anything that he has achieved in recent years.

**Allaho’s price as at 8pm on Wednesday March 4th was 9/2



CORAL CUP, Wednesday March 11th, 2:50pm

One of the trickiest handicaps of the week but one horse really stands out to me and that is CANARDIER who is now trained by Willie Mullins after leaving the stable of Dermot McLoughlin in recent times.

This horse had a foray over the larger obstacles this season and was likely going to win at Navan when he tipped up. He went to Leopardstown over Christmas and ran a shocking race but that was likely down to a very bad mistake and it looked to knock the stuffing out of him. His hurdles form is what makes him of massive interest here. He was fifth in this race last year off a mark of 141 and the handicapper looks to have taken a chance by letting him in off 145. He hasn’t been seen since Christmas and with the recent stable change it suggests to me that the connections have there eye on this race. The Coral Cup last season was a competitive race but Canardier really caught the eye turning in and then flattened out up the straight but ran an excellent race to finish fifth.

No doubting the ability of Dermot Mc Loughlin as a trainer but the main question is can Willie Mullins get a little improvement out of this horse? The answer for me is most definitely yes and his handicap mark could look a blot on Day Two of the Festival. I think he is better than 145 and he could arrive there hard on the bridle turning in and be well backed to do so.

I think we all need to watch the market in terms of this horse. I cant see the double-figure prices lasting too long. Many firms have gone NR/NO BET, including Bar One Racing so I would get on as soon as possible for this race as he looks likely to be his main aim.

**Canardier’s price as at 8pm on Wednesday March 4th was 11/1


Willie Mullins Terrific Ten

Asterion Forlonge (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)

Cash Back (Arkle Chase)

Benie De Dieux (Close Brothers’ Hurdle)

The Big Getaway (Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle)

Allaho (RSA Novices’ Chase)

Canardier (Coral Cup)

Faugheen (Marsh Novices’ Chase)

Min (Ryanair Chase)

Colreevy (Mares’ Novice Hurdle)

Al Boum Photo (Gold Cup)

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article