We are all too aware of some the leading contenders who have flown the flag for Mullins over the last few years and we’d be foolish not to touch on some of the luminaries in his yard, but we will try and look at a couple of potential improving youngsters who could launch on to the big stage this campaign.
The likes of Hurricane Fly and Quevega will spearhead Mullins’ team as the former looks to secure his third Champion Hurdle crown on the opening day of the Prestbury Park extravaganza, whilst the latter will bid for an unprecedented sixth David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle and is already as short as 5/4 for the coveted title.
Dual Cheltenham Festival winner Champagne Fever is set to embark on a novice chasing career and last year’s sensational Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner will be a tough nut to crack over the larger obstacles and could head to the Arkle Challenge Trophy on the opening day of the four-day festivities and at 8/1 in the ante-post betting could be one to keep on the right side of.
Sir Des Champs was touched off by Bobs Worth in a pulsating Cheltenham Gold Cup last season, but the Gigginstown House Stud-owned raider is certain to give the blue riband event another shot and is one of the prominent figures in the early betting, whilst four-mile chase winner Back In Focus could be a potentially progressive staying chaser in the coming months and may add another string to the Mullins bow on the final day in the elite contest.
Having touched on some of the proven stars of the Mullins operation, we can now look at some of the young prospects who could propel into the limelight this season and come the Spring maybe challenging for a number of the Grade One crowns at the festival and the unbeaten Un De Sceaux is an exciting star to look out for.
A facile six-length winner on his debut, the five-year-old then eased to an impressive 13-length winner over Moscow Mannon at the Punchestown Festival and he shaped like there’s a whole lot more to come over timber and could be a lively Champion Hurdle contender at 25/1 with Paddy Power.
Another exciting youngster to win at Punchestown was Moyle Park, who stayed on well to land a valuable bumper prize and he is set to be sent over hurdles this campaign, but may have to play second fiddle early on to runaway Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill. However, the pair have looked potentially top class on the level and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle may have been pencilled in already with Briar Hill the 10/1 ante-post jolly.
Quevega may fly the flag for the female brigade, but Annie Power has shown she could be the future in that area and she has a whole host of potential Cheltenham races on her radar, whilst Mullins has always thought highly of Kalmann, who finished in the mid-division in the Fred Winter, but could shape into a really smart novice chaser in the 2013/2014 and is just another exciting inmate of the stunningly strong Co. Carlow base.
With talk of a Mullins 'satellite yard' in England on the back burner for the foreseeable future, we can still expect to see some of these names head over the Irish Sea for Cheltenham's Open and International meeting in November and December respectively together as well as other key fixtures on the British National Hunt calendar over the coming months.
Mullins has cited the frustration of having to run many of his stable stars against each other in Ireland in recent seasons and the desire of some of his UK based owners to see their horses run closer to home as a reason for the increased presence on British shores during the 2013/2014 campaign.