Who Can Give Mullins The Willies At Cheltenham?

Having won the top trainer accolade at the Cheltenham Festival in four of the last five years, it may come as no surprise to learn that Willie Mullins is massively odds-on at 1/33 to lift the title once more in 2016.

Mullins Mania!
It’s a price that speaks volumes in terms of the strength of Mullins’ team heading to Cheltenham, where he is responsible for the first five favourites on day one, including the likes of Min, Douvan, Faugheen and Annie Power. It’s hard to imagine Mullins won’t have at least a few winners on day one, while it’s quite possible he might even get close to last year’s amazing haul of eight winners.

Top Trainer at Cheltenham Festival since 2006
2015 Willie Mullins (8)
2014 Willie Mullins (4)
2013 Willie Mullins (5)
2012 Nicky Henderson (7)
2011 Willie Mullins (4)
2010 Nicky Henderson (3)
2009 Paul Nicholls (5)
2008 Paul Nicholls (3)
2007 Paul Nicholls (4)
2006 Paul Nicholls (3)

The question is whether punters will want to take odds of 1/33 now, or possibly wait until the end of day one, as anything fewer than a couple of Mullins winners could see his price drift. It’s also conceivable that Mullins may head into the festival out of form, which could see money arrive for ‘any other trainer’ landing the title at 8/1.

Can Mullins Be Stopped?
In that category would be Paul Nicholls, who hasn’t been top trainer here since a four-year winning spree from 2006-2009. Nicholls has experienced some quiet years for his standards at this meeting since, but did hit back in 2015 courtesy of a treble.

Nicholls will again be feared, but with only one entry at the festival currently under 10/1 (Dodging Bullets in the Champion Chase), Nicky Henderson may have a better chance. Henderson has the likes of Sprinter Sacre (9/2), Altior (6/1), Buveur D’Air (7/1), L’Ami Serge (7/1) and Vaniteux (8/1).

Elsewhere, Gordon Elliott can be considered a live contender with the likes of No More Heroes (11/4) and Don Cossack (9/2).

This further strengthens the case about the “Total Irish Trained Winners” being over 13 at evens. Such odds need respecting, as there is also the likes of Un De Sceaux (4/6 for the Champion Chase), Vautour (evens for the Ryanair Chase), Killultagh Vic (9/4 for the JLT) and
Josies Orders (5/2 for the Cross Country).

Irish Winners Galore!
Clearly, the prospects remain strong about another double-figure tally being achieved for the Irish, as has been the case in four of the last five festivals.

2015 13 Irish-trained winners
2014 12 Irish-trained winners
2013 14 Irish-trained winners
2012 5 Irish-trained winners
2011 13 Irish-trained winners

The fact there was 12 and 13 winners on three of those five occasions may also lead to punters opting for the 10/11 about there being 11-13 Irish-trained winners (inclusive), while 6/1 about 10 or less is also available for those who think the Brits may dominate.

Whatever your choice, it’s a tremendous market to be involved with, as it will keep everyone guessing until the final day – well worth the value in anyone’s book!

*Prices correct at time of publication.