Cheltenham Festival: one trainer, one jockey, one horse and one race to watch | Horse Racing News

By Matt Rennie

Trainer

Who else could the festival be about other than Willie Mullins? He stands out on his own as the winningmost trainer in the meeting’s history with 78 victories and sends over another formidable team to add to that tally.

The Closutton trainer will hope to continue his superb record in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30) with either Dysart Dynamo or Kilcruit before leading contenders Blue Lord and Appreciate It take in the Sporting Life Arkle (2.10) and Unibet Champion Hurdle (3.30).

He saddles three in the mares’ hurdle (4.10) and two in both the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.50) – which includes the well-supported Gaelic Warrior – and National Hunt Chase (5.30).

On Wednesday, Sir Gerhard will aim to get the ball rolling in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (1.30) having been switched from the Supreme, before Energumene and Each For Self form a stellar opposition to Shishkin in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30) .

Mullins ends the day bidding for a record-extending 12th victory in the Champion Bumper (5.30) with the highly regarded Easy Vega.

Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

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Willie Mullins: could he be in line for another profitable festival?

Willie Mullins: could he be in line for another profitable festival?

Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

Galopin Des Champs could still contest the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, but remains likely to head to the Turners Novices’ Chase (1.30) for a thrilling clash with Bob Olinger, while Allaho bids to retain his Ryanair Chase (2.50) crown and Klassical Dream goes for Stayers’ Hurdle glory (3.30).

The Friday will not only be centered on if Al Boum Photo can regain and claim a third Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.30), but whether Vauban can shine as the leading juvenile in the Triumph Hurdle (1.30) and Minella Cocooner can back up his Dublin Racing Festival victory in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2.50).

Alongside a powerful team of handicappers throughout the four days, it is a banker that Mullins will add to his already record-breaking haul, with some Championship success possible too.

Jockey

Rachael Blackmore created history when she became the first woman to claim the festival’s leading jockey prize with six wins last year and has strong claims of retaining her crown given her likely book of rides throughout the week.

Her standout ride on the opening day is undoubtedly Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle (3.30) as one of the sport’s most famous partnerships bid to retain their crown and take their unbeaten streak together to 15.

She also partners last year’s Mares’ Novice Hurdle winner Telmesomethinggirl in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (4.10) among her three booked rides on Tuesday.

Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

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Rachael Blackmore: has the plum ride on Honeysuckle to look forward to

Rachael Blackmore: has the plum ride on Honeysuckle to look forward to

Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

Blackmore could have live chances on the Wednesday with Journey With Me in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (1.30) and Envoi Allen in the Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30), but on Thursday it is all about Bob Olinger, as the pair look likely to take on Galopin Des Champs in a thrilling Turners Novices’ Chase (1.30).

While she has many other chances throughout the four days, one she will be eager to right the wrongs from is aboard A Plus Tard in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.30), as the pair seek to avenge their second-place finish in the race last year.

While the Irish could dominate once again, one light of joy for the British could be Shishkin as he bids for his crowning glory in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30) on Wednesday.

The eight-year-old has landed the Supreme and Arkle on his last two visits to the festival and bids to emulate fellow Henderson-trained star Altior to land all three contests, having also made a perfect start this season with successes in the Desert Orchid and Clarence House Chase.

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

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Shishkin (right) will take on Energumene again in the Queen Mother Champion Chase

Shishkin (right) will take on Energumene again in the Queen Mother Champion Chase

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

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