Cheltenham Festival 2023: Willie Mullins’ Leading Contenders

Cheltenham festival
Cheltenham Festival 2023: Willie Mullins’ Leading Contenders

Cheltenham Festival 2024: 3 Willie Mullins Horses to Follow

The 2023 Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching, and the trainers are putting the finishing touches to their preparations for the big meeting. 
Top Irish handler Willie Mullins generally has the top UK betting sites running scared when Cheltenham is staged, as he will saddle many of the leading fancies. 
We’ve scoured the entries for the four-day event to identify three Mullins horses we think will likely run well at the Festival.

  • Facile Vega one to watch in the Supreme.
  • El Fabiolo could sparkle in the Arkle.
  • Sir Gerhard looks cherry ripe for the Brown Advisory. 

Facile Vega - Supreme Novices' Hurdle

Mullins has made no secret about how highly rates Facile Vega and the horse is undoubtedly a serious contender in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. 
A shock defeat at Leopardstown in early February saw the six-year-old pushed out to odds of 10/3 for the Grade 1 event on the opening day. 
Mullins was unhappy with jockey Paul Townend after the race and vowed that the horse would be ridden with more restraint at the Festival. 
There will be a strong pace for Townend to aim at, which should allow him to conserve the horse’s energy before switching on the after-burners. 
Given the way Facile Vega powered up the hill in last season’s Champion Bumper, he could be a tough nut to crack in the Supreme. 

El Fabiolo – Arkle Novices’ Chase 

El Fabiolo’s victory in the Arkle Novices’ Chase at Leopardstown was the perfect rehearsal for the equivalent race at Cheltenham. 
The six-year-old is now priced at 6/4 for the Festival and has an excellent chance of claiming another big race win for Mullins. 
His main rival will likely be Jonbon, although that horse will need to improve after recently performing below expectations in a two-runner race at Warwick. 
The big money buy finished second in last year’s Supreme, but has always looked the type to do much better over fences. 
El Fabiolo was narrowly beaten by Jonbon over hurdles at last year’s Grand National meeting, but has the talent to turn the form around at Cheltenham.  

Sir Gerhard - Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase 

After Sir Gerhard won on his chasing debut at Gowran Park at the end of last month, Mullins pinpointed the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase as his main spring target. 
The eight-year-old made one serious mistake on the way to victory, but looked extremely impressive once he settled into a rhythm under Townend.

The 2022 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle winner is priced at 6/1 in the Cheltenham betting to win at the Festival, which looks a fair reflection of his chances in a competitive field. 
Sir Gerhard is also entered in the shorter Turners Novices' Chase, but that would pitch him against the hugely impressive Mighty Potter. 
The longer trip of the Brown Advisory should help Sir Gerhard avoid any mishaps, a factor that Mullins has hinted could be crucial to the horse’s chances. 

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