Last year, Willie Mullins trained a record-breaking eight winners at the Cheltenham Festival and the legendary Irish trainer has assembled another formidable team this time around. Mullins rates Douvan in the Arkle Trophy (2.10) on Tuesday as his best chance of the week and, while his odds are prohibitive, he could form the basis of a lucrative multiple bet for this column. Last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner has made a seamless transition to fences, winning all three starts with a minimum of fuss, and cannot sensibly be opposed.
In the Champion Hurdle (3.30), Annie Power has yet to win over 2 miles at the highest level, but that fact doesn’t seem to bother her trainer and, in receipt of the mares’ allowance, she’s favoured by the race conditions. Her one and only defeat in 14 completed starts came when second, beaten 1½ lengths, behind More Of That in the World Hurdle two seasons ago, but she is admirably versatile distance-wise and has won numerous times over the minimum trip.
Vroum Vroum Mag is another who’s won from distances ranging from 2 miles and 110 yards to 2 miles 7 furlongs and 118 yards over hurdles and she can record her first Grade 1 success in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (4.10). The intermediate distance should suit her down to the ground and the manner of her most recent victory, at Ascot in December, suggested her first victory at the highest level is just a matter of time.
Selections: Cheltenham 2.10 Douvan, Cheltenham 3.30 Annie Power, Cheltenham 4.10 Vroum Vroum Mag, 1-point Win Treble