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Kilcruit gets a positive word as Mullins begins to clarify Cheltenham plans

Kilcruit is heading for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Willie Mullins, the most successful trainer in the history of the Cheltenham Festival, is busy shuffling his pack ahead of next week’s Cheltenham Festival. He is particularly strong in the novice department this year and he has started clarifying his plans. Among those given a positive word, Kilcruit heads to the Supreme and Capodanno looks set for the Brown Advisory. Here is what we have learned so far from the Master of Closutton stables in County Carlow.

Bring On The Night could be supplemented for the Ballymore 

Mullins had issued a rather negative bulletin about dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo a couple of weeks ago but appears a lot happier now. His last couple of pieces of work have delighted both he and jockey Paul Townend. He is set to be joined by King George VI winner Tornado Flyer but no decision has yet been made on the frustrating Asterion Forlonge.

The picture for the novice hurdles is only marginally clearer with Sir Gerhard and Dysart Dynamo still undecided between the Supreme or the Ballymore. What Mullins has said is that Kilcruit will run in the Supreme and that the horse has come forward all season. El Fabiolo is likely to join him in that race but Bring On The Night is unlikely to take part. He could yet be supplemented for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle which is an indication of how highly Mullins rates him.

Classic Getaway could run in the Ballymore but Mullins would strongly consider the Albert Bartlett if the ground is not too testing. Dublin Festival winner Minella Cocooner will also run in one of those races but he is not convinced that Ramillies has the necessary experience. The much-touted State Man remains a possible for the Supreme but still has the option of running in one of the big Cheltenham handicaps.

Mullins leaning towards Triumph with Icare Allen

Mullins is inclined to let Icare Allen run in the Triumph Hurdle despite being well beaten by stable companion Vauban at Leopardstown. He felt that a bad blunder at the first hurdle knocked him out of his stride that day and he looked much more the finished article at Fairyhouse recently. Vauban is the stable number one but Il Etait Temps is also likely to run after his excellent third in the Spring Juvenile.

There are almost certain to be three representatives for the stable in the Arkle with Blue Lord, Saint Sam and Haut En Couleurs. Capodanno is being prepared for the three-mile Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, although no decision has been made on whether he will clash with stablemate Galopin Des Champs. The trainer is just favouring the shorter Turner Novices’ Chase but will wait to assess the opposition before committing to either contest. The going is currently expected to be soft for the opening day of the festival meeting which will be another key factor.

All is well with Queen Mother Champion Chase duo, Energumene and Chacun Pour Soi. Mullins once again stressed that his own preference is for the latter and is finding it difficult to see how Energumene can reverse Ascot form with Shishkin. He is as happy as he can be with Champion Hurdle hope Appreciate It, although he would ideally have got a run into him before Cheltenham. There are no such concerns for Allaho who is fit and fancied for back-to-back Ryanair Chase wins.