Willie Mullins’ Gold Cup hopes bang on schedule

Willie Mullins reports the preparation for his three main hopes for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup - Vautour, Djakadam and Don Poli - to be bang on schedule with the big race just three weeks away.

Willie Mullins’ Gold Cup hopes bang on schedule

The Gold Cup is one of the very few major jumps races to have eluded Mullins so far, but Ireland’s champion trainer is set to make arguably his strongest assault yet on the blue riband.

Djakadam only found Coneygree too good last March and was a good winner of the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown in December.

He suffered a cut to his chest when falling in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham last month, but Mullins reports the seven-year-old to be fully recovered from that bad experience.

“We have a little bit of catching up to do with Djakadam, but everything we’ve asked him to do since his setback has been good,” the County Carlow handler said.

“He worked fairly hard on Saturday and he’s come out of that well. He has a few more bits to do because he’s a big lazy horse and you really have to ask him and get him to work. He doesn’t do it himself.

“He came out of it well, he ate up the other evening, (I was) very pleased with that and he’s doing all the right things.

“He’s usually a good jumper. He’ll pop a few fences. We’ll probably bring him to Leopardstown and let him go round there.

“It’s all about what they do on the day. Basically he’s a good jumper, so hopefully it will just come right on the day.”

Mullins is happy to take Vautour straight to the Gold Cup after he was only caught on the line by Cue Card in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

“I didn’t see any point in running him again,” he said.

“Last year we just got him ready at home and just threw the kitchen sink at him. We’ll do the same again this year and hopefully he’ll come right.”

“We’ll just get them fit and the ones that stay, stay and the ones that don’t, don’t.

“Tactically you might change a few things with the likes of him, but some horses are keen and you should just let them get on with things.

“We’ll see. It depends on who is going to ride him in the Gold Cup.”

Don Poli has also not been out since Christmas when he won the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.

“I think he only does what he has to do,” said Mullins.

“We were happy we didn’t need to run him again and we’ll just get him ready to have him going there a bit fresher.

“He was always going to improve. The extra couple of furlongs will suit him. Just the way he comes up that hill, he’s an out and out stayer and gallops.

“We don’t know how much he will produce when he’s right on the day because he just passes the ones that are in front of him and just stops.

“Bryan Cooper is always worried that he’s not going to do it. Anyone that rides him when he’s in behind horses thinks he’s going nowhere. When you ask him, he just produces it and comes out and does it.

“I think there is still plenty there. The further they go the better he will be.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox