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What did we learn from Willie Mullins’ stable tour? Lewis looks over the Douvan, Yorkhill updates

Ireland big training cheese Willie Mullins hosted a media visit on Monday and gave the world valuable nuggets on all of his runners for the Cheltenham Festival, which begins in two weeks.

Mullins is the leading Irish trainer at the Cheltenham Festival, with 54 successes, and currently sits second on the all-time trainers’ list behind Nicky Henderson (58).

He has won The Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award at five of the last seven Festivals (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016) and sent out a record-breaking eight winners in 2015.

When he speaks, people listen and it can be golden when it comes to eyeing up potential bets on his horses for the Festival.

Here’s what we learned:

YORKHILL


MULLINS SAID: “I suppose the Unibet Champion Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase are the options for Yorkhill.

“We will have to see because he is not a great workhorse at home. He is very lazy and, as you have seen at the racetrack when he idles in front, he is a bit like that at home.

“I have always thought that he should maybe have a crack at the Champion Hurdle. But he would be a nice one to have along with Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair. I am not going to make that decision yet.”
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If you’re a forgiving type of punter then the price of Yorkhill for the Ryanair Chase (10/1) or the Champion Hurdle (10/1) will jump off the page at you.

When he’s on a going day, this horse is arguably the most talented horse in training but has left that ability back at the stables on both his starts this season.

Mullins isn’t exactly brimming with confidence that the horse will find his sparkle, however, there were was plenty of movement in the Champion Hurdle market on Yorkhill’s chances last night.

Mullins said he’s always wanted to have a crack at the big hurdling race with Yorkhill, which looks a big indication that the less competitive Champion Hurdle might just be his target.

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DOUVAN


MULLINS SAID: “He has been pleasing me and doing everything right. He has a few good bits of work to do this week. He has to go for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, all being well.

“He has been away a couple of times already but it is day to day with him. I just hope I can get him back to the level he was at in November. Unless we are happy with him, he won’t go.

“Altior was very good in Newbury and he looked great as well. It could be a race to savour but we have got to get there first.”
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This was perhaps the headline story from the Mullins open day.

The vibes are becoming more positive regarding Douvan’s chances of making a comeback at Cheltenham, which will be music to their ears of many who have backed this beast in his two Festival successes.

There’s only one race for him, too, according to Mullins – the Champion Chase.

Now, owner Rich Ricci rarely runs two of his two best horses in the same race but he has Min – the current second favourite.

Surely, when the day draws closer, Ricci will be keen to keep his two stars apart if they make it.

If that’s the case, Min may end up switching to the Ryanair, despite what Mullins wants.

Remember what happened to Vautour a few years back when he switched from the Gold Cup to the Ryanair.

Min can be backed at 10/1 for the Ryanair – might not the be the worst shout with the non-runner guarantee.

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