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Mullins and Wylie eye Cheltenham tilt with Gold Cup hero Bellshill

Jonathan Vine 26 Apr 2018
Bellshill (left) gets the better of Djakadam (right) in the Punchestown Gold Cup.

Willie Mullins and owner, Graham Wylie have hyped up Bellshill’s chances of challenging in the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup, after a superb victory in the Punchestown equivalent on Wednesday.

Christmas Chase victor, Road To Respect carried the shortest price to post yesterday, but it was Bellshill’s name on most punters lips during the build-up to the Punchestown Gold Cup. Djakadam finished a close second to Sizing John in the race 12 months ago and he cut out the running, with Danny Mullins positioning Bellshill handily behind his pace-setting stablemate.

With two fences to jump, Bellshill pulled upsides Djakadam and soon established a clear lead. Willie Mullins’ Gold Cup regular tried valiantly to fight back as the leader began to tire, but Bellshill held on to claim the biggest prize of his career.

It was a tremendous performance from Bellshill, who finished fifth in the Irish Grand National on his last start just three weeks ago. Approaching the last, Bellshill looked to have that historic handicap firmly within his grasp, but some late wanderings over that marathon trip – something Mullins attributed to the flash of a photographer’s lens – saw him struggle to get over the final fence and fade in the closing stages.

A jubilant Mullins said to the Racing Post after Bellshill's victory, “To come back from Fairyhouse, where he was very unlucky, and win like that, it just shows what he had left in the tank when he made the mistake at the last at Fairyhouse.”

"He could be a Gold Cup horse." Mullins continued. "The performance he put up in Fairyhouse (placed fifth in Irish Grand National) was a Gold Cup performance in my book, and today has just confirmed that."

“It hasn't been a great year for Graham Wylie with his horses this year so it's very well deserved from him point of view as well."

David Mullins and Bellshill cross the line after winning the Punchestown Gold Cup.

Describing the season Wylie has endured as “hasn’t been great” is putting it mildly, considering what the owner has been through. Two-time Cheltenham winner and stable-flagbearer, Yorkhill has gone from ante-post Gold Cup favourite to a Champion Hurdle also-ran in the last year and Wylie tragically lost 2017 Stayers’ Hurdle champion, Nichols Canyon during the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Bellshill’s victory on Wednesday was a welcome tonic for Wylie and, after watching his horse storm to victory, he echoed Mullins sentiments that Cheltenham’s Gold Cup must surely now be on Bellshill’s radar.

"David gave him a great ride. Wylie said to the Racing Post. "I'm very pleased for David as he gets on really well with the horse, that's why we kept him on board."

"He deserved that, because he ran so well in the Irish Grand National and he just made one mistake coming to the last."

Before the Punchestown Festival began, Bellshill could have been found at odds of 40/1 to win the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup. After claiming Punchestown’s most coveted trophy, Willie Mullins’ charge had his Cheltenham odds resoundingly slashed, with William Hill now listing Bellshill as the 14/1 joint-fourth favourite.

Bellshill didn’t make his first start of the season until the Bobbyjo Chase in February and Mullins could go down a similar route next year. One slight worry for Willie is that Bellshill has idled a little when hitting the front on all three of his appearances, but jockey David Mullins was adamant after the race that Bellshill will be a more mature horse next season and there’s no doubting he has the engine to cope with the three-and-a-quarter mile trip in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

*2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup (15/3/19) betting with William Hill*
6/1 Presenting Percy, Might Bite, 7/1 Native River, 14/1 Bellshill, Sizing John, 16/1 Footpad, 20/1 Monalee, Road To Respect, 25/1 Bar

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Mullins and Wylie eye Cheltenham tilt with Gold Cup hero Bellshill

Willie Mullins and owner, Graham Wylie have hyped up Bellshill’s chances of challenging in the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup after a superb victory in the Punchestown equivalent on Wednesday 27th April.

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