Ahead of the racing at Leopardstown on Sunday, OTB Sports caught up with Willie Mullins where he ran the rule over some of his runners.
Day two of the Dublin Racing Festival has just a high a quality as the opener and Mullins will be well represented through the four grade one races on the card.
Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup
Kemboy and Melon looked to have the Christmas Chase between them at Leopardstown before being swamped late by A Plus Tard, the pair are among five who will line up in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup, Sunday's feature race.
Thriller at @LeopardstownRC!
A PLUS TARD pulls it out of the fire to deny Kemboy and land the Grade 1 Savills Chase for @HenrydeBromhead and @CPStudOfficial!
Melon also ran a cracker on his first go at 3m in third. pic.twitter.com/rRVFPRFEuV
— Timeform (@Timeform) December 28, 2020
"I was thinking one of them please and even if one of them fell at the last you would say 'how far?' but however. They probably did not help each other," Mullins said of the Christmas race.
Kemboy: "He seems to be back to himself. David has retired since so I wonder will anyone esle get on as well with him.
"He seems to like Leopardstown but they have had a lot of rain, that would not be to Kemboy’s liking. Real nice ground suits him more than any other horse.
Melon: "We will change tactics with him. Up to now we have been putting cheek pieces on Melon, we have been putting go-faster stripes on him to be more competitive over shorter trips.
"Unfortunately for Patrick he took off down the back and he ended up taking on Kemboy, but we didnt want to disappoint him [by trying to slow him down].
"You would have to think if we changed tactics it might suit us better, which might easier for Melon. I think if we dont force him he will be able to settle off the pace, and hopefully use his ability in the last two furlongs."
Flogas Novice Steeplechase
There were incredible scenes in this race in 2019 when Faugheen took this race, Mullins also won it with subsequent RSA winner Cooldine in 2009. Current Cheltenham favourite Monkfish heads the Closutton team this time around.
Monkfish - what a monster 😍
He tastes Grade One success over fences at Leopardstown 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/DfVL62hAx3
— ODDSbible Racing (@ODDSbibleRacing) December 29, 2020
Monkfish: "He is the obvious one here. The way he jumps I don’t think a drop in trip will bother him.
"He looks a real natural over fences, all this rain will suit him and I do not think two miles and five will be an issue either.
"It is a grade one, we will get a lot of [jumping] practice, with big prizemoney. You have to go there."
Janadil - "I would be keen to have a crack here."
Asterion Forlonge – "He could go here, He has won a G1 here, even though he jumped a little right. We might just try some different tactics here and see what happens.
"That he fell at the first is a bigger concern than jumping a bit right. Hopefully, he will have his confidence back by the weekend. I have wondered about different ways of riding him to counter the jumping slightly right.
"Probably we should keep him going right-handed but if you don't ask the question you won't find the answer.
"At Punchestown I think he was just going too slow. He changed his mind getting to the fence because he was going too slow.
Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle
Willie Mullins will be responsible for half of the eight runner field, however, Zanahiyr is a notable absentee. The market is topped by the Gordon Elliott trained Quilixios.
French Aseel is making his debut for the Champion trainer having been an impressive winner at the same venue over Christmas when trained by Ellemarie Holden.
A ridiculous performance from French Aseel in the opener at Leopardstown 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/LTKQKttBxv
— ODDSbible Racing (@ODDSbibleRacing) December 27, 2020
French Aseel: "He has settled in well, his form got franked again at the weekend. Everything he has done, he has done well. I have not asked him much. I have banked on him being good so that when I do ask him the question he will be able to answer.
Youmdor : "He got a hard fall at Fairyhouse, now he bounced back from it. Now not on the day but he came back that night and ate up and has been fine since. I will see how he works this week.
"He was going well at the time, he would have been a short price in running. he was doing everything right until then, he just put down or something, just changing his mind when Paul asked him to jump the hurdle."
Saint Sam – "He finished fourth, but I think he ran way better than his finishing position. He got probably the worst run of the race. This horse is improving all of the time.
"I don’t think he has that much to make up with Zanahiyr, he is improving."
Ha D’or : "He was having his first run over hurdles, ran very well over Christmas. He is sure to improve a huge amount.
"We just wanted to see how he could jump and he will be nice horse someday, this might just be a bit too early in his career."
Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle
Team Closutton took this race last year with Asterion Forlonge and recently with Klassical Dream. Samcro is the only horse to wrestle this race from Willie Mullins vice-like grip in the last six renewals. The Champion trainer has the odds-on favourite in Appreciate It on Sunday who was a very impressive winner at the same venue over Christmas and tops the market for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Appreciate It just 💗's Leopardstown & we 💛him
3⃣ wins from 3⃣ runs at the course 🏆@paddypower Bumper on this day last year✅@Goffs1866 Grade 2 Bumper #DRF ✅✅@paddypower Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle ✅✅✅#MegaImpressive for @PTownend @WillieMullinsNH pic.twitter.com/raSBCT3tzJ
— Leopardstown RC (@LeopardstownRC) December 27, 2020
Appreciate It : "He is in great shape. I was hugely taken with his performance at Xmas. I was leaning towards stepping up in trip earlier in the season.
"I was hugely taken by that performance over two miles. I was not sure he could be that good, he was more than I thought he was with the performance he put in.
"We were going to go up in trip with him at the start of the season, if we had ended up going the two-mile and six route, it would not have surprised me.
"That is why I was so hugely taken with this run. He seems in great shape."
Mr Coldstone : "He is interesting after what he did down in Tramore. I am looking at options for him. Maybe he should just take his chance here and let's see what he is."
Willie Mullins' thoughts on Day One of the Dublin Racing Festival.