It’s always good to get multiple perspectives on which horses are looking good for the season. Legendary jockey Ruby Walsh has offered some insight into four horses from Willie Mullins yard. And he thinks they could be the ones to beat over the next few months.
Both in the UK and Ireland the intensely hot weather over the Summer months has scuppered some plans. Add in the very dry weather of Autumn so far and trainers are having a very quiet start to the season.
Over the next few months, it is hoped that the ground will soften up allowing some of the bigger runners a decent stretch of the legs. They are even watering the ground at Cheltenham this week!
Despite the issue with the weather, Walsh still thinks that the following four horses are worth paying attention to. If you want to keep an eye on any of the following horses then check out the Festival tips for Cheltenham on The Winners Enclosure’s website. You’ll find their predictions for each race at the festival as well as useful insights for each individual race.
With four wins from seven starts over fences, Bellshill is on form. With earnings in excess of £415K already in the piggybank, this eight year old was last seen at Punchestown when winning the Coral Gold Cup in April.
Walsh says: “He looks particularly well coming back in and we’ve always thought a lot of him.
“He improved with each run last year and a rating in the 160’s means he wouldn’t have to improve an awful lot more to be a genuine Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.
“He’s exciting and looks one to follow.”
Was heavily tipped to win the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse in April. Unfortunately, he fell very early on and is still waiting for his seasonal debut. Pairofbrowneyes is a solid chaser who has won or placed in 11 of his 18 starts over fences.
He only moved to Willie Mullins yard in January 2018 so with a bit of work from the trainer he could turn in some really great performances this season.
Ruby Walsh says: “I hope he’s still well enough handicapped to try for some of the big prizes like the Thyestes Chase and even an English or Irish Grand National this season.”
He is currently 40/1 ante-post for the 2019 Aintree Grand National with Betfair.
There was plenty of speculation last season that Rathvinden might go for the Grand National. Ultimately he headed to Cheltenham instead which was ideal as he won the National Hunt Challenge Cup, beating Ms Parfois by only half a length.
Now ten years old, this could be the year he takes on the Aintree fences in April. And, like Pairofbrowneyes, also has Grand National ante-post odds of 40/1 to win it.
Ruby seems to agree saying: ‘He’s a 10-year-old now so if you’re asking could he develop into an Aintree Grand National contender? I think he could.’
Saldier is an interesting prospect, not least because he is only four years old. Owned by the Ricci’s his pink silks with green spots will be very familiar to many. As he is so young he has only had four hurdle runs under his belt and all of them were in 2018. Don’t be deceived, last time out he won £53k at Punchestown!
Ruby Walsh says: “He’s a big, strong, horse and juveniles improve a lot when they turn five on Jan 01.
“He could be a dark horse for the bigger hurdle races from Christmas onwards.”