Day 1 Review – Champion Annie Too Powerful
It was a day that promised so much – and boy, did day one of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival deliver!
Mullins Strikes Early!
Both punters and followers of Willie Mullins enjoyed things on Tuesday with Mullins notching a treble courtesy of Douvan, Annie Power and Vroum Vroum Mag. It could have been even better for punters, as Mullins’ Min just missed out in the opener when beaten by Nicky Henderson’s Altior.
It was a victory that meant the Brits drew first blood in the battle for the Prestbury Cup, while seeing Altior’s odds for the 2017 Champion Hurdle cut to around 8/1.
Mullins didn’t take long in hitting back for the Irish when Douvan took the following Arkle Chase. It was a ruthless display of jumping that had the opposition in trouble early, and…
…it would be no surprise to see him return for next year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, where he is around 6/4.
Then again, Mullins stated he looks a Gold Cup type, and if that proves correct, then odds of 7/1 to lift jump racing’s Blue Riband next year could be worth considering.
Brits Bounce Back
David Pipe struck a blow for the Brits in the following handicap courtesy of his 11/1 shot, Un Temps Pour Tout. This victory also boosted the chances of Evan Williams’ King’s Odyssey, who beat Un Temps Pour Tout over 16l here at Cheltenham in late-January. King’s Odyssey goes for Thursday’s JLT Novices’ Chase, where he is a juicy 25/1.
Annie Too Powerful
The Prestbury Cup was 2-2 when Mullins’ Annie Power made up for her heartache here 12 months ago in landing the Champion Hurdle. It was a historic moment, as this admirable mare became the first female to win the Champion Hurdle since 1994, and quotes of 4/1 for her to retain the crown in 2017 have already seen plenty of takers.
Willie Mullins’ Nichols Canyon ran a screamer to finish third, with Nicky Henderson’s My Tent Or Yours sandwiched in second, again highlighting the terrific form of both power yards.
Vroum Lands Quick Treble For Mullins
Annie Power’s victory was also a superb result for punters, who played up their winnings on Mullins’ hotpot in the following Mares’ Hurdle when Vroum Vroum Mag showed her rivals a clean pair of heels too. She looks nailed on to win the equivalent race at Punchestown later this spring.
Mullins settled for third in the following National Hunt Chase, in which Jonjo O’Neill triumphed with Minella Rocco, which also enhanced the prospects of Nicky Henderson’s Vyta Du Roc in Wednesday’s RSA Chase. Vyta Du Roc beat Minella Rocco at Ascot last month, and stands out at 10/1 for the RSA.
Brits Lead Prestbury Cup
Ian Williams took the concluding race on day one with Ballyalton (12/1), which not only gave the bookies some respite, but ensured the Brits head into day two of the Prestbury Cup 4-3 ahead.
Tomorrow, Mullins has a chance to strike early again with Yorkhill (2/1) in the opening Neptune Hurdle, while Un De Sceaux looks nailed-on for the Champion Chase at 4/5.
Mullins 20/1 For Gold Cup Domination
It’s also worth noting that with the Mullins bandwagon in full flight, odds of 20/1 for him training the first three home in Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup are already coming under pressure.
*Prices correct at time of publication.