Willie Mullins Top 5 Punchestown Pearls
Willie Mullins’ Top Punchestown Chances
If there’s been one man that’s looked forward to the Punchestown Festival more than any other in recent years, it’s been Willie Mullins. The master of Clossutton has regularly sent an incredibly strong team over to Punchestown in spring, and that looks no different in 2021 – where he once again looks set for a good week. We have delved deeper into the Mullins entries at next week’s Punchestown Festival, identifying five of his strongest chances.
Echoes In Rain (4.15pm, Tuesday April 27th)
The first Grade 1 at the Punchestown Festival is the eCOMM Merchant Solutions Champion Novice Hurdle. Willie Mullins has sent out a remarkable five of the last six winners of this event, and he again holds strong claims this year with ECHOES IN RAIN.
Echoes In Rain has looked extremely progressive since sent hurdling, winning three of her last four starts in this sphere. Arriving at Punchestown on the back of a fifteen-length Grade 2 success, Echoes In Rain looks set to kick off the week in usual fashion by providing Willie Mullins with an early Grade 1 winner.
Monkfish (6.30pm, Tuesday April 27th)
One of the most exciting novice chasers to come out of the Mullins yard in recent years is MONKFISH. Winner of the 2020 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, Monkfish has proven a revelation since sent chasing, winning all four of his starts – latest success coming at the Cheltenham Festival.
Monkfish did not have to be anywhere near his best to win that race, yet it will be a different story entirely at Punchestown next week should he bump into Envoi Allen. Envoi Allen had been unbeaten in his entire career prior to taking an uncharacteristic fall at Cheltenham last month. We have taken an in-depth look into the clash between the two equine superstars – identifying our idea of the most likely winner.
Al Boum Photo (5.55pm, Wednesday April 28th)
AL BOUM PHOTO, the horse that provided Willie Mullins with a long-sought-after maiden Cheltenham Gold Cup win, will catch many punters’ eyes when he lines up in Wednesday’s Punchestown Gold Cup. The nine-year-old has been kept quiet this season, taking in a regular trip to Tramore prior to finishing third behind Minella Indo – who reopposes here – in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Whilst there appeared to be no obvious excuses for that defeat, Al Boum Photo remains a high-class staying chaser, and he will undoubtedly be towards the head of the betting for next week’s contest. One slight concern, however, is that Al Boum Photo has never encountered much luck at this meeting. Prior to crashing out when looking set to score in 2018, he had finished a modest fifth over hurdles, and in 2019 found stablemate Kemboy too strong. Willie Mullins will be hoping that Al Boum can make it fourth time lucky next week.
Energumene (6.35pm, Thursday April 29th)
Willie Mullins has trained some enigmatic front-running trainers already in his career, with the list including the likes of Un De Sceaux – and he appears to have unearthed a similar type this season in ENERGUMENE.
Winner of all three of his chase starts so far this campaign – all coming in facile fashion – Energumene has quickly developed into one of the most exciting 2m novice chasers in training. Injury curtailed a showdown with Shishkin in the Arkle at Cheltenham, but an entry at next week’s Ryanair Novice Steeplechase suggests that Energumene is now well over that setback. With main market rivals Envoi Allen and Shishkin both considered doubtful to take up their engagements, the 4/5 odds currently available on Energumene could shorten significantly come raceday.
Concertista (3.20pm, Saturday May 1st)
One of the more frustrating results for team Mullins at last month’s Cheltenham Festival will undoubtedly have been the narrow defeat of star mare CONCERTISTA. Fortunately for Concertista, she will have the opportunity to avenge that defeat when taking in the Grade 1 Coolmore Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle, and she will have no Black Tears to contend with on this occasion.
Next Saturday’s Grade 1 is yet another Punchestown Festival Grade 1 that Willie Mullins has enjoyed remarkable success in down the years, having taken six of the last seven runnings – star mare Apple’s Jade managing to stop the Mullins onslaught back in 2017.
Of course, these are merely a minute sample size of the potential Mullins battalion at Punchestown next week. He also has the likes of Chacun Pour Soi, Allaho, Stattler, Sir Gerhard, Kilcruit and Haut En Couleurs entered at the meeting.