Punchestown - At The Races

Willie Mullins Stable Tour

    Willie Mullins gives us the inside track on his powerful squad for the 2018 Punchestown Festival, as he again bids to overhaul great rival Gordon Elliott and retain his champion trainer crown in Ireland.
  • Friday 20 April 2018
  • Stable Tours

What more can be said about Willie Mullins that hasn’t already been said?

While he has been considered a top trainer for well over two decades, claiming his first Champion Trainer title in 2000/1, it has been since 2007/8 that Mullins has taken his performance to previously unheard of levels.

In February 2013, with over two months of the season remaining, he broke Aidan O’Brien’s record haul of winners in a season of 156 in 1995/6 and eventually went on to record a remarkable total of 193 winners.

Well established as the most successful Irish-based trainer in the history of the Cheltenham Festival with 61 winners at the meeting, Mullins has trained a sequence of household names such as Florida Pearl, Hedgehunter, Quevega, Hurricane Fly, Faugheen and Douvan.

As we have become accustomed to, Mullins has a formidable team of horses at his disposal for the upcoming Punchestown Festival at which he will bid to once again come from behind to defend his title of Champion National Hunt Trainer in Ireland.

He was good enough to talk Kevin Blake of attheraces.com through his team for the big meeting.

Older Horses

Al Boum Photo (FR)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Buck's Boum - Al Gane (Dom Alco)
  • Owner: Mrs J Donnelly
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 1 May 2019 18:05
  • Result: 2/8, mid-division, slight mistakes 5th and 11th, went 3rd after next, pushed along to challenge approaching 2 out where mistake, ridden and no impression on winner before last, kept on one pace run-in
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 157-rated chaser, he has won two of his five starts in novice chases including the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival.

Trainer Says:

I was delighted with his performance at Fairyhouse. He has progressed all season and it was great to win a Grade 1 with him after he had been a bit unlucky earlier in the campaign. He has shown good versatility with regard to trip and Growise Champion Novice Chase on Tuesday could well be his target.

Video Form
24 Apr 2018:
1 Apr 2018:
4 Feb 2018:
26 Dec 2017:
26 Nov 2017:

Bacardys (FR)

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Coastal Path - Oasice (Robin De Champs)
  • Owner: Shanakiel Racing Syndicate
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 2 May 2019 17:30
  • Result: 2/10, mid-division early, 5th before 6th, pushed along briefly 10th, 7th before straight, soon effort, stayed on well run-in, 2nd near line
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 157-rated hurdler, he looked set to make a strong return to hurdling in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival only to fall at the final flight when in contention for a place.

Trainer Says:

I imagine he’ll go for the Stayers Hurdle. We felt he was going to get seriously involved at Cheltenham. Patrick felt the horse had plenty left to give, he just got unbalanced after landing over the last and came down. He has shown a liking for Punchestown and based on his Cheltenham run he must have a bit of a chance.

Video Form
28 Dec 2018:
10 Nov 2018:
26 Apr 2018:
28 Dec 2017:
11 Nov 2017:

Ballyward (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Flemensfirth - Ifyoucouldseemenow (Saddlers' Hall)
  • Owner: Andrea & Graham Wylie
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 12 Mar 2019 17:30
  • Result: F/18, held up behind, blundered 5th, headway into mid-division 16th, fell next
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 143-rated hurdler, he won a maiden hurdle at Naas in January and went on to finish fourth in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Says:

He looks to be one for the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle on Wednesday. He looks a real stayer and he took a nice step forward in the Albert Bartlett. He is one to look forward to when he goes over fences.

Video Form
31 Dec 2018:
25 Apr 2018:
28 Jan 2018:
29 Dec 2017:
27 Dec 2016:

Benie Des Dieux

Form Profile:

A French import, she has won all four of her starts for Mullins, including the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Says:

She has a few options, but I imagine she might run in the Mares Champion Hurdle on Saturday. The Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham was a race we had mapped out for her for a long time and we were very happy with how she performed in it.

Video Form
18 May 2019:
28 Apr 2018:
10 Feb 2018:
29 Dec 2016:

Blackbow

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Stowaway - Rinnce Moll (Accordion)
  • Owner: Roaringwater Syndicate
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 25 Apr 2018 18:05
  • Result: 2/10, a little keen early, chased leaders in 3rd, closed approaching straight travelling smoothly, ridden to challenge under 2f out, every chance final furlong, kept on without matching winner closing stages
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A winning point-to-pointer, he made an impressive racecourse debut when winning a bumper at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting and followed up in a Grade 2 bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. He finished fifth in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Says:

He will go for the Champion Bumper at Punchestown. He ran very free at Cheltenham and I think this track might suit him better. I’m never really surprised with bumper horses at Cheltenham as they are young, inexperienced horses and the occasion might just have got the better of him on the day and fired him up.

Video Form
25 Apr 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
26 Dec 2017:

Douvan (FR)

  • 9-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Walk In The Park - Star Face (Saint Des Saints)
  • Owner: Mrs S Ricci
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 24 Apr 2018 17:30
  • Result: 2/9, tracked leader in 2nd, jumped slightly right 4 out, slight mistake next, ridden in 2nd entering straight, no impression on winner before last, kept on same pace run-in
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 172-rated chaser, he was the outstanding novice chaser and made a smooth transition to open company last season, winning his first three starts until suffering a stress fracture in his pelvis when disappointing in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He didn’t reappear until this season’s renewal of that race and was travelling strongly when falling at the fourth-last fence.

Trainer Says:

He’ll go for the Champion Chase. Patrick felt he was well within himself when he came down at Cheltenham, but for me it was too far out to make any assessment as to how much of his huge ability he retains. That said, we were encouraged by how well he was jumping and how much enthusiasm he was showing.

Video Form
24 Apr 2018:
5 Feb 2017:
27 Dec 2016:
11 Dec 2016:

Faugheen (IRE)

Form Profile:

A 163-rated hurdler, he has won 12 of his 16 career starts over hurdles and made a winning return from almost two years off when winning the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November, but has been below that level of form in three starts since then.

Trainer Says:

He’s entered in the Champion Hurdle and the Stayers Hurdle and he could take up either option. He likes Punchestown and he showed that he stays three miles earlier in his career, so we’ll see closer to the time which race he’ll go for. We were a little bit disappointed that he didn’t show more at Cheltenham, he appeared in better form than that at home.

Video Form
28 Dec 2018:
18 Nov 2018:
26 Apr 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
29 Dec 2017:

Footpad (FR)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Creachadoir - Willamina (Sadler's Wells)
  • Owner: Simon Munir & Isaac Souede
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 14 Mar 2019 14:50
  • Result: 8/12, mid-division, steady headway 3 out, shaken up to chase leaders before next, ridden and unable to quicken between last 2, weakened last
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 157-rated hurdler, he has created an exceptional impression in winning all four of his starts over fences in the style of a potential star, most notably in the Grade 1 Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown and in the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Says:

He scoped a little bit dirty prior to Aintree, but he seems fine now and will go for the Ryanair Novice Chase on Thursday. We’ve been delighted with him all season and hopefully he can produce that sort of form again.

Video Form
27 Dec 2018:
10 Nov 2018:
26 Apr 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
26 Dec 2017:

Getabird

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Getaway - Fern Bird (Revoque)
  • Owner: Mrs S Ricci
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 30 Apr 2019 18:40
  • Result: PU/8, waited with in rear early, took keen hold, chased leaders from before 3rd, 3rd from 6th, mistake 4 out, dropped to 5th before next, no extra approaching straight, pulled up before last
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 152-rated hurdler, he has won three of his four starts over hurdles this season including two Grade 2 contests.

Trainer Says:

He’s entered in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle on Tuesday and the Profile System Champion Novice Hurdle on Friday. He has shown plenty of pace in winning at Punchestown and Fairyhouse this year, but we think he has plenty of stamina too. I don’t know about the whole theory that he is better going right handed, but he has certainly looked very good going that way around. I think there was probably more to his disappointment at Cheltenham than the fact it was left handed, as he didn’t jump as well and raced very freely too.

Video Form
26 Dec 2018:
9 Dec 2018:
27 Apr 2018:
24 Apr 2018:
2 Apr 2018:

Great Field (FR)

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Great Pretender - Eaton Lass (Definate Article)
  • Owner: John P McManus
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 30 Apr 2019 17:30
  • Result: 4/6, soon raced in 4th, 3rd before 5th, not go with front pair approaching 4 out, no impression and mistake next, slight mistake 2 out, soon 4th again and one pace
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 164-rated chaser, he is unbeaten in five starts over fences. He made a winning seasonal reappearance in a Grade 2 chase at Navan in March.

Trainer Says:

He has had some training problems this season, so it was great to get him back to put up a nice winning performance in very testing conditions at Navan last time. Less testing ground will suit him better and his option at Punchestown is the Champion Chase. He will also be given an entry at Sandown and that is an alternative that will be considered.

Video Form
27 Dec 2018:
9 Dec 2018:
23 Mar 2018:
27 Apr 2017:
25 Mar 2017:

Killultagh Vic

  • 10-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Old Vic - Killultagh Dawn (Phardante)
  • Owner: Mrs Rose Boyd & Mrs Marie J Armstrong & James Boyce Anderson
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 2 May 2019 17:30
  • Result: 4/10, led, pressed and slight mistake 3 out, headed approaching last, kept on same pace
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 162-rated chaser, he was a Grade 1-winning novice hurdler that looked a top-class novice chaser in the making in 2015/16 until he met with an injury that kept him off the track for almost two years. He made a winning return to action over hurdles at Punchestown in December and looked the likeliest winner when falling at the final fence in the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. He was pulled up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Trainer Says:

He will go for the Punchestown Gold Cup. He jumped poorly in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but he has been schooling well since. He has gone well at this track before, so hopefully he will jump better and give himself a chance.

Video Form
31 Dec 2018:
25 Apr 2018:
4 Feb 2018:
31 Dec 2017:

Laurina (FR)

  • 6-y-o; bay mare
  • Breeding: Spanish Moon - Lamboghina (Alkalde)
  • Owner: Sullivan Bloodstock Limited
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 12 Mar 2019 15:30
  • Result: 4/10, tracked leaders, went 2nd 4 out, hit next, ridden after 2 out, dropped to 4th last, stayed on same pace
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 150-rated hurdler, she has impressed in winning all four of her starts for Willie Mullins by wide margins, most recently in a Grade 1 mares’ novices’ hurdle at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival.

Trainer Says:

She has a few options and there hasn’t been a decision made on her target yet. We’ve been very happy with her so far and she owes us nothing after the season she has had. She showed that she stays two-and-a-half miles last time and that gives us plenty of options with her.

Video Form
1 Apr 2018:
27 Jan 2018:
14 Dec 2017:

Melon (GB)

Form Profile:

A 165-rated hurdler, he made a winning return to action in Grade 2 company at Down Royal in November and went on to finish a close second in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Says:

He’ll go for the Champion Hurdle. I thought he put in a really tremendous effort at Cheltenham despite not getting the perfect run of the race and if he can reproduce that it will give him a great chance. He’s relatively lightly raced for a horse of his calibre and I think there could be more improvement in him.

Video Form
18 May 2019:
29 Dec 2018:
27 Apr 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
3 Nov 2017:

Min (FR)

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Walk In The Park - Phemyka (Saint Estephe)
  • Owner: Mrs S Ricci
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 30 Apr 2019 17:30
  • Result: 2/6, close up in 3rd, 2nd approaching 3rd, slight mistake 6th, not go with winner from before straight, kept on without threatening closing stages
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 168-rated chaser, he won the Dublin Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in February prior to finishing second in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and the Melling Chase at Aintree.

Trainer Says:

I think there’s a good chance he could line up at Punchestown. He’s a mature horse and seems to have come out of Aintree well. He has multiple entries, but we haven’t made a decision on his target yet.

Video Form
9 Dec 2018:
24 Apr 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
27 Dec 2017:
25 Nov 2017:

Mr Adjudicator (GB)

  • 5-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Camacho - Attlongglast (Groom Dancer)
  • Owner: Mr David Bobbett
  • Last Race: Galway, 2 Aug 2019 18:50
  • Result: Won/12, tracked leaders, 5th halfway, pushed along and progress to lead 2f out, ridden over 1f out and 2 lengths lead 150 yards, kept on
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 148-rated hurdler, he won the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown and went on to finish second in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Says:

He’ll go for the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle on Saturday. There’s obviously not a lot between himself and Farclas, so we’ll be hopeful going there that he can give him a race.

Video Form
9 Jun 2019:
18 May 2019:
10 Nov 2018:
28 Apr 2018:
4 Feb 2018:

Next Destination

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Dubai Destination - Liss Alainn (Flemensfirth)
  • Owner: Malcolm C Denmark
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 25 Apr 2018 16:55
  • Result: Won/11, soon chased leaders in 5th, closed and slight mistake 2 out, 3rd approaching straight, soon on terms, gained narrow lead run-in and stayed on well
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 150-rated hurdler, he has won three of his four starts over hurdles this season including the Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle at Naas in January.

Trainer Says:

He has a couple of entries, but he likes a test of stamina so he could be one for the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle on Wednesday. It was surprising to me how badly he got outpaced in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, but maybe he just wasn’t in love with the track. We’ll see.

Video Form
25 Apr 2018:
7 Jan 2018:
17 Dec 2017:
11 Nov 2017:
27 Apr 2017:

Penhill (GB)

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Mount Nelson - Serrenia (High Chaparral)
  • Owner: Anthony Bloom
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 26 Apr 2018 17:30
  • Result: 2/12, tracked leaders in moderate 5th, progress into moderate 3rd 5out, went closer 2nd 2 out, ridden entering straight, no impression on winner at last, kept on same pace
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 164-rated hurdler, he has won seven of his 10 starts over hurdles including the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Trainer Says:

He’ll go for the Stayers Hurdle. His Cheltenham form must give him a great chance and given that I had wondered whether we had enough done with him going into it, there must be a chance that he can improve from it.

Video Form
26 Apr 2018:
26 Apr 2017:
29 Dec 2016:
4 Dec 2016:

Rathvinden (IRE)

Form Profile:

A 154-rated chaser, he has won five out of his 11 starts in novice chases this season including the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Says:

He’ll probably go for the Growise Champion Novice Chase on Tuesday. He has a lot of experience for a novice and stays very well. We were delighted with him at Cheltenham and I was delighted for Ronnie Bartlett, as he showed an awful lot of patience to stick with him when he didn’t race for the better part of three years.

Video Form
19 May 2019:
24 Apr 2018:
4 Feb 2018:
29 Dec 2017:
3 Dec 2017:

Stormy Ireland

Form Profile:

A French import, she created an excellent impression on her Irish debut, winning a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse by 58 lengths in December. She was in the process of running well when falling final flight in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Says:

She’ll run in the AES Champion For Year Old Hurdle on Saturday. I was disappointed with her at Cheltenham, I think she has a big engine and can do better than that. She was very sore after her fall, but she has recovered well and I’m looking forward to seeing her run again.

Video Form
9 Jun 2019:
28 Dec 2018:
17 Nov 2018:
13 May 2018:
28 Apr 2018:

Un De Sceaux (FR)

  • 11-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Denham Red - Hotesse De Sceaux (April Night)
  • Owner: Edward O'Connell
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 30 Apr 2019 17:30
  • Result: Won/6, disputed lead, led after 2nd, slight mistake 4th, went on from before straight, stayed on well run-in
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 164-rated chaser, he is a seven-time Grade 1 winner over fences that arguably put up the most impressive performance of his career when winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last season. He has won three of his four starts this season including the Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January.

Trainer Says:

He’s a tough horse and all being well he’ll run in the Champion Chase on Tuesday. I was a bit disappointed with him at Cheltenham. I think he was just too free in the first third of the race and that made him vulnerable.

Video Form
24 Apr 2018:
2 Apr 2018:
20 Jan 2018:
10 Dec 2017:
25 Apr 2017:

Yorkhill

  • 9-y-o; chestnut gelding
  • Breeding: Presenting - Lightning Breeze (Saddlers' Hall)
  • Owner: Andrea Wylie & Graham Wylie
  • Last Race: Gowran Park, 5 Oct 2019 16:25
  • Result: 4/8, held up in rear, jumped left throughout, progress into 5th entering straight, closer behind leaders 3 out, ridden in 4th next, no extra before last, kept on one pace
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 160-rated chaser, he won three of his four starts over fences last season including the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He has been very disappointing in three starts this season.

Trainer Says:

We have given him a few entries and while he is probably better left handed, he’s likely to run. We might just stick to hurdling with him for now. I don’t really know what has gone wrong with him this season. Sometimes horses just lose their form for a season without an obvious reason and get it back after they have a break. He just doesn’t seem to be the horse he was, but hopefully he’ll get it back at some stage.

Video Form
18 May 2019:
26 Apr 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
28 Dec 2017:
16 Apr 2017: