The much-anticipated four-day meeting at Prestbury Park is just around the corner and as punters start betting on 2020 Cheltenham, one of the main things they look out for is the horse’s trainer. Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Nicky Henderson are always strong selections. However, with Mullins picking up the most wins at the festival six times in the last 10 years, including last year, it might be worth having a punt on a few of the Irishman’s horses. So, carry on reading as we narrow down his best chances.
Benie Des Dieux
The 2018 Cheltenham Mares’ Hurdle champion could feature in two races this year: The Grade One Mare’s Hurdle again, and the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle – also a Grade One race.
The nine-year-old heads into the festival in fine form, after 250 days away from the track, Benie Des Dieux won the Grade Two Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park towards the end of January – beating stablemate Penhill by a whopping 21 lengths.
The French import is odds-on favourite to retain the Mares’ Hurdle after falling at the final hurdle last year whilst leading by three lengths – the mare’s only defeat since joining Mullins’ yard. Benie Des Dieux is second favourite at 3/1 in the Stayers’ Hurdle but would need to see off the classy Paisley Park to secure the win.
"She's in the two races. She was a very unlucky loser in the Mares' Hurdle last year and we might go back and get a bit of unfinished business done, but we'll see," Mullins said.
Chacun Pour Soi
Another French import in Mullins’ yard, it will be Chacun Pour Soi’s first crack at the famous Prestbury Park track. The eight-year-old is entered for two races at the festival: the hugely competitive Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase.
Similarly to his stablemate Benie Des Dieux, Chacun Pour Soi has lost just once since joining the Champion Trainer and most recently beat fellow Mullins-trained horse Min by three and three-quarter lengths in the Grade One Dublin Chase at Leopardstown.
The eight-year-old is third favourite at 5/2 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, although it is one of the most competitive races at this year’s festival, and whilst he showed improvement last month in Ireland, it would take one hell of a run to beat Cheltenham legend Altior.
“It’s probably the most watchable race at Cheltenham and Chacun Pour Soi has a very good chance this year. It would be a fantastic achievement to win it,” Mullins said about the eight-year-old’s chances in the Queen Mother.
Al Boum Photo
Al Boum Photo, who Mullins also sourced from France, broke the all-time leading Cheltenham trainer’s Gold Cup duck last year as he beat A J Martin’s Anibale Fly by two-and-a-half lengths. The eight-year-old has only raced once this season, beating Acapella Bourgeois by six lengths to scoop his second successive Grade Three New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore in Ireland, and will go for back-to-back Gold Cups at this year’s festival – a race in which he’s heavily fancied at 7/2F.
"I think he has a fantastic chance. I would assume Paul (Townend) is going to ride him again. The final bits of work will probably dictate that,” Mullins commented on the horse’s chances of landing successive Gold Cups.
The Champion Trainer could also pick up victories with Carefully Selected, who is 3/1 favourite to win the Grade Two Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase on the opening day of the festival, Allaho, who is just behind the leaders in the betting in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase, and Min, who is a 10/1 outsider in the Queen Mother Chase and 3/1 second-favourite for the Ryanair Chase.