Willie Mullins

Willie Mullins is the son of the late Paddy Mullins, who saddled the legendary mare Dawn Run to win the Champion Hurdle in 1984 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1986. However, although he had won the Champion Hurdle four times, with Hurricane Fly (twice), Faugheen and Annie Power, Willie Mullins had ‘hit the woodwork’ in the Cheltenham Gold Cup so many times prior to the 2019 renewal that he had all but resigned himself to never winning the ‘Blue Riband’ event. Nevertheless, after six second-place finishes, Mullins finally claimed his first win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup when Al Boum Photo – only third choice of his four runners in the betting market – stayed on strongly from the final fence to beat Anibale Fly by 2½ lengths.

Mullins has still yet to win yet the Queen Mother Champion Chase, but Al Boum Photo was one of four winners for his Co. Carlow yard which, along with seven placed finishers, were enough to edge out Nicky Henderson and win Mullins the leading trainer award for the sixth time in his career. Indeed, Mullins remains the most successful trainer in the history of the Cheltenham Festival with 65 winners, although he is just one winner ahead of Nicky Henderson.

Mullins saddled his first Cheltenham Festival winner, Tourist Attraction, in 1995, but has really come into his own since winning the leading trainer award for the first time in 2011. He missed out to his old rival, Nicky Henderson, in 2012, but was leading trainer again in 2013, 2014, 2015 – the year in which he saddled a record eight winners over the four days – and 2016. Aside from his victories in the Champion Hurdle and, more recently, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Mullins has also won the Stayers’ Hurdle twice, with Nichols Canyon and Penhill. Of course, Mullins can no longer rely on the services of his former stable jockey, Ruby Walsh, who retired in May, 2019, so what the effects that might have remain to be seen.

2017 Cheltenham Festival Results

Tuesday, March 14 – – – Wed | Thu | Fri

1.30pm SkyBet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
(Grade One) 2m 110yds £125,000
1 Labaik 25/1
2 Melon 3/1JF
3 River Wylde 8/1
14 ran

2.10pm Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase
(Grade One) 2m £175,000
1 Altior 1/4F
2 Cloudy Dream 12/1
3 Ordinary World 25/1
9 ran

2.50pm Ultima Handicap Chase
(Grade Three) 3m 1f £105,000
1 Un Temps Pour Tout 9/1
2 Singlefarmpayment 5/1F
3 Noble Endeavor 15/2
4 Buywise 33/1
23 ran

3.30pm Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
(Grade One) 2m 110yds £400,000
1 Buveur D’Air 5/1
2 My Tent Or Yours 16/1
3 Petit Mouchoir 6-1
11 ran

4.10pm OLBG Mares’ Hurdle
(Grade Two) 2m 4f £110,000
1 Apple’s Jade 7/2
2 Vroum Vroum Mag 11/4
3 Limini 6/4F
17 ran

4.50pm National Hunt Chase
(Amateurs) 4m £120,000
1 Tiger Roll 16/1
2 Missed Approach 50/1
3 Haymount 33/1
4 Arpege D’Alene
18 ran

5.30pm Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase
(Listed) 2m 4f 110y £70,000
1 Tully East 8/1
2 Gold Present 14/1
3 Two Taffs 7/1
4 Powersbomb 22/1
20 ran

Wednesday, March 15 – – – Tue | Thu | Fri

1.30pm Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
(Grade One) 2m 5f £125,000
1 Willoughby Court 14/1
2 Neon Wolf 2/1F
3 Messire Des Obeaux 8/1
15 ran

2.10pm RSA Chase
(Grade One) 3m 110yds £175,000
1 Might Bite 7-2F
2 Whisper 9-2
3 Bellshill 5-1
12 ran

2.50pm Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
(Grade Three) 2m 5f £95,000
1 Supasundae 16/1
2 Taquin Du Seuil 12-1
3 Who Dares Wins 33-1
4 Monksland 66-1
25 ran

3.30pm BetWay Queen Mother Champion Chase
(Grade One) 2m £350,000
1 Special Tiara 11/1
2 Fox Norton 7/1
3 Sir Valentino 33/1
10 ran

4.10pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase
(Handicap) 3m 7f £65,000
1 Cause Of Causes 4/1
2 Bless The Wings 10/1
3 Cantlow 9/4F
16 ran

4.50pm Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
(Grade Three) 2m 110yds £80,000
1 Flying Tiger 33/1
2 Divin Bere 9/2F
3 Nietzsche 12/1
4 Project Bluebook 14/1
22 ran

5.30pm Weatherbys Champion Bumper
(Grade One) 2m 110yds £75,000
1 Fayonagh 7/1
2 Debuchet 10/1
3 Claimantakinforgan 22/1
22 ran

Thursday, March 16 – – – Tue | Wed | Fri

1.30pm JLT Novices’ Chase
(Grade One) 2m 4f £150,000
1 Yorkhill 6/4F
2 Top Notch 7/2
3 Disko 4/1
8 ran

2.10pm Pertemps Network Final
(Listed Race) 3m £95,000
1 Presenting Percy 11/1
2 Barney Dwan 16-1
3 Jury Duty 9-1
4 The Tourard Man 66-1
24 ran

2.50pm Ryanair Chase
(Grade One) 2m 5f £300,000
1 Un De Sceaux 7/4F
2 Sub Lieutenant 8/1
3 Aso 40/1
8 ran

3.30pm Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle
(Grade One) 3m £300,000
1 Nichols Canyon 10/1
2 Lil Rockerfeller 33/1
3 Unowhatimeanharry 5/6F
12 ran

4.10pm Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate
(Grade Three) 2m 5f £105,000
1 Road To Respect 14/1
2 Baron Alco 10/1
3 Bouvreuil 10/1
4 Thomas Crapper 7/1
24 ran

4.50pm Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
(Grade 2) 2m £80,000
1 Let’s Dance 11/8F
2 Barra 12/1
3 Dusky Legend 20/1
16 ran

5.30pm Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
(Amateurs) 3m 2f £70,000
1 Domesday Book 40/1
2 Pendra 16/1
3 Premier Bond 9/1
4. Potters Legend 10/1
24 ran

Friday, March 17 – – – Tue | Wed | Thu

1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle Race
(Grade One) 2m 1f £125,000
1 Defi Du Seuil 5/2 F
2 Mega Fortune 7/1
3 Bapaume 10/1
15 ran

2.10pm Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle
(Grade Three) 2m 1f £95,000
1 Arctic Fire 20/1
2 L’Ami Serge 25/1
3 Ozzie The Oscar 50/1
4 Air Horse One 10/1
25 ran

2.50pm Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
(Grade One) 3m £125,000
1 Penhill 16/1
2 Monalee 8/1
3 Wholestone 13/2
15 ran

3.30pm Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup
(Chase) (Grade One) 3m 2f 110yds £575,000
1 Sizing John 7/1
2 Minella Rocco 18/1
3 Native River 7/2
13 ran

4.10pm St James’s Place Foxhunter Steeplechase
(Amateurs) 3m 2f 110yds £45,000
1 Pacha Du Polder 16/1
2 Wonderful Charm 7/2
3 Barel Of Laughs 100/1
23 ran

4.50pm Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
2m 4f 110yds £65,000
1 Champagne Classic 12/1
2 Verni 25/1
3 Runfordave 9/1
4 Coo Star Sivola 13/2
24 ran

5.30pm Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase
(Handicap) (Grade Three) 2m 110yds £105,000
1 Rock The World 10-1
2 Gardefort 20-1
3 Theinval 9-1
4 Dandridge 13-2
24 ran

The total prize fund for the four days of The Festival is now £4,305,000.

Kauto Star

Few, if any, steeplechasers of the modern era – not even the trail-blazing grey, Desert Orchid – have captured the imagination of the racing public in the same way as Kauto Star. Although rated fully a stone-and-a-half inferior to Arkle, according Timeform, Kauto Star nonetheless ranks joint-fourth, alongside Mill House, in the list of highest-rated steeplechasers of the Timeform Era. Poignantly, until usurped by Arkle, Mill House was widely regarded as the best British steeplechaser since Golden Miller in the Thirties, so the assertion of Ruby Walsh, who rode Kauto Star to 17 of his 23 victories, that he was ‘the horse of my lifetime’ is entirely justifiable.

Owned by Clive Smith and trained by Paul Nicholls – from whose yard his eventual departure, to embark upon a new career in dressage, in 2012, caused an acrimonious split between the pair – Kauto Star is probably best remembered for winning the King George VI Chase at Kempton an unprecedented five times between 2006 and 2011. However, Kauto Star ran at the Cheltenham Festival every year between 2006 and 2012. On his first attempt, as a six-year-old, he fell at the third fence, when favourite, in the Queen Mother Champion Chase but, for the rest of his career, exclusively contested the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Indeed, Kauto Star won the ‘Blue Riband’ event at his first attempt in 2007 and, although beaten 7 lengths by stable companion Denman when odds-on to defend his title in 2008, avenged that defeat with an impressive, 13-length defeat of the same horse on his return to Prestbury Park. In so doing, he became the first horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup. All told, Kauto Star won 19 of the 31 steeplechases he contested – including 16 at Grade One level – at distances between 1 mile 7½ furlongs and 3 miles 2½ furlongs, and over £2.3 million in prize money. Tragically, after suffering complications to neck and pelvic injuries sustained in a freak accident in a field at home, Kauto Star was humanely euthanised in 2015.

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