Can Willie Mullins Bash the Bookies at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival?
Willie Mullins is generally a trainer to follow at the Cheltenham Festival, with his tally of 94 winners at the meeting putting him well clear of his nearest rival.
Mullins topped the trainer standings with six winners at this year’s event and has plenty of fancied runners lined-up for the 2024 edition of the meeting.
A measure of the strength of his stable can garnered by looking at the latest ante-post markets, which paint a worrying picture for other trainers in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Of the 20 races which have already been priced up by the betting sites featured on horse-racing.ie, Mullins has the favourite in more than half of them.
With that in mind, we have scoured the lists to assess the chances of some of Mullins’ runners, starting with one who has already been well backed by punters.
Bunting – Triumph Hurdle
Barely a season goes by in racing without at least one of Mullins’ horses being touted a potential future superstar and this year is certainly no different.
Bunting has been backed from 20/1 to 12/1 for the 2024 Triumph Hurdle, despite never running over obstacles during his short career.
The horse won its solitary start at Fontainebleau on the flat over eleven furlongs earlier this year before being purchased by Brighton & Hove Albion owner Tony Bloom.
He is well known for wagering on his horses and his latest acquisition could be extremely tough to beat when the Triumph Hurdle is staged next March.
Redemption Day – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Several horses from the Mullins stable are towards the head of the betting in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and it would be no surprise is one of them won the race.
However, looking a little further down the list there is another Mullins runner who leaps off the page as a potential value bet at odds of 25/1 in the opening race of the meeting.
Redemption Day was heavily touted for the 2022 Champion Bumper, but failed to live up to expectations on unsuitably heavy ground.
He went on to finish second at the Punchestown Festival before missing last season through injury, but could take high order over hurdles if Mullins can keep him fit.
Allaho – Ryanair Chase
Two-time Ryanair Chase winner Allaho produced a stunning performance to win the Punchestown Gold Cup in April 2022 before suffering a bleed on his spleen.
After missing the whole of last season, the horse recently returned to action in the Clonmel Oil Chase and barely broke sweat on his way to an effortless victory.
Mullins has never made any secret of how highly he rates Allaho and he looks a good bet at odds of 10/3 to win the Ryanair Chase for a third time.
British trainer Paul Nicholls will fancy his chances of winning the race with Stage Star, but his horse could find it difficult to topple Allaho.
Ile Atlantique – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
After finishing third on his hurdles debut in France, Ile Atlantique was a stylish winner of a bumper for Mullins at Leopardstown in December 2022.
The horse subsequently finished second in two bumpers at Naas and Fairyhouse, although there was no disgrace in either of those defeats.
Ile Atlantique looked to have grown into his frame on his first start over hurdles at Gowran Park this month, roaring home 19 lengths clear of his rivals.
That performances saw the Bloom-owned horse slashed from 33/1 to 14/1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – odds which still look decent value.