PUNTERS up and down the land will be waking up this morning and deciding which of the short-priced Willie Mullins horses to put into multiples.
The most likely scenario is that the majority will put in all four together: Douvan, Un De Sceaux, Faugheen and Annie Power. But this is Cheltenham, the place where hotpots always get turned over. Or do they?
Ireland’s champion trainer arrives at Prestbury Park in 2015 with an astonishing squad of galacticos and some would argue that Sporting Index’s quote of total Mullins winners is ripe for buying at 5.95.
However, Mullins has been in this game long enough to know that he can’t win everything.
Douvan is 6/4 with the sponsors for today’s opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm), even though he is yet to race in a Grade One hurdle.
He is undoubtedly hugely promising, but he has only had two starts for Mullins and this will be his first on decent ground.
Vautour and Champagne Fever, the winners of the last two renewals for the same connections, were sent off at 7/2 and 5/1 respectively, despite having stronger form credentials than Douvan.
Now, I’m not suggesting in the slightest that Douvan can’t win this afternoon, but his chance isn’t reflected by his odds and at the prices I just have to take him on.
There are some astonishing offers at the Festival this year. Sky Bet are refunding all losing bets up to £25 in the Supreme while Paddy Power will refund all losing bets if Douvan wins.
L’Ami Serge is next in the betting at 10/3 and he has some very solid form since joining Seven Barrows. However, he’s another who has been running solely on soft ground.
He’s by King’s Theatre, whose progeny normally prefers a sounder surface, but the way he sluiced through the mud at Sandown makes me question how well he’ll be suited to today’s conditions.
I’m not convinced about Jollyallan either and I’d rather take a stab at a couple of longer-priced horses in a race that has thrown up plenty of shocks over the years.
Mullins’ second, or perhaps even third, string is ALVISIO VILLE and, although he was disappointing in the Deloitte Hurdle last time, I’m not sure that was his true running.
He had clearly been working really well at home, which is why he was sent off 11/10 against stablemate Nichols Canyon. Paul Townend takes the ride and I can see this son of Visionary pulling off a shock at 16/1 with Paddy Power.
Another who I’m keen on is Warren Greatrex’s SEEDLING at 20/1 with Sky Bet. He is three from three this season, including an impressive success at this course back in December, and he may have been underestimated by the bookies.
ALVISIO VILLE e/w 1.30pm Cheltenham
SEEDLING e/w 1.30pm Cheltenham