Top jockey Paul Townend provides the inside track on the Willie Mullins-trained runners.
You have to be willing to forgive my mount Bellshill
his last run at Leopardstown behind Bleu Et Rouge and Tombstone but he was beaten too far out to be his true running. Ruby said he wasn’t happy on him at any point but he’s been given time to get over that and he’s a tough horse who has plenty of experience. I know he’s travelled over well and the nicer ground might help him but we will all struggle to beat Min who looks the real deal. That performance at Punchestown was pretty special and although this will be Min’s biggest test to date, Willie loves him and I know the boss will be very disappointed if he is beaten.
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Bellshill - 1pt e/w @ 14/1
This race is pretty clear cut – if Douvan
stays on his feet then he will win, he’s a monster and I would be amazed if anything got near him. Of the others, Sizing John is a Grade One winner over hurdles and his form is solid. He jumps well and should finish second.
Douvan - 1pt @ 2/5
I don't have a ride in this but I've been hearing good reports about Morning Assembly
who seems to have come back to himself and at 14-1 could be a decent each-way bet. Pat Fahy’s horses are in great form an this fellow appears to have been a bit forgotten.
Morning Assembly - 1pt @ 14/1
I was very disappointed with Nichols Canyon
in the Irish Champion Hurdle but the combination of a hard race with Identity Thief at Christmas – the pair went at it hammer and tongues from a long way out on bad ground, and then coming out to race against the machine that is Faugheen, proved too much for Canyon. I knew turning out of the back straight that my race was over and going toe-to-toe with Faugheen killed him.
Canyon was given plenty of time off after that and we’ve really freshened him up ahead of this, I think he’s in a much better place now. It’s going to be hard to give 7lb to Annie Power and whoever beats her will probably win, but don’t rule out Identity Thief as his trainer Henry de Bromhead thinks the drying ground will really help him. I’ve also been hearing good things about The New One, who seems to be carrying a lot of confidence, but it’s going to be hard for us all to beat Annie Power.
Nicholls Canyon - 1pt @ 11/2
Vroum Vroum Mag
looks a class apart from the other mares in this race and I will be surprised if she’s beaten. Polly Peachum was second to Glens Melody in this race last year and there is no comparison between Glens Melody and Vroum Vroum Mag - Mag is different class.
Vroum Vroum Mag - 1pt @ 11/10
Pont Alexander was very good in his beginners’ chase but he hasn't backed that up in his ruins since and has been disappointing. He definitely has the ability to run well in a race like this but he needs to bounce back to form. Measureofmydreams
impressed me when we won at Navan and that's decent form. He will stay and he’ll be coming up the hill, it's just a case of whether he can improve again for the better ground, but I think he might. If I had the choice of the Mullins three, I would ride Measureofmydreams – he jumped well for me at Navan and this could be the ideal test for him.
Measureofmydreams - 1pt @ 10/1
I won a Grade One hurdle on Mckinley
last year – he’s got loads of ability but he’s quirky, you can’t rely on him. If he’s on a going day he has the ability to run into the frame. The English horses should dominate this race though and I’ve been hearing good things about the Warren Greatrex horse Aloomomo.
Aloomomo - 1pt @ 6/1