Willie Mullins: Cheltenham 2023 entries, odds and Festival record – The Telegraph

Our expert assesses the Irish trainer’s standout entries for Cheltenham as he bids to add to his Festival record of 88 winners
The 2023 Cheltenham Festival (14-17 March) is fast approaching and this article assesses trainer Paul Nicholls’ best entries at this year’s renewal of the showpiece meeting
Over the past 35 years, Irish trainer Willie Mullins has established himself as one of the most successful horse racing trainers in the history of the sport.
His record at the Cheltenham Festival is second to none, his 88 winners being 16 more than the next man on the list, Nicky Henderson. Mullins’ tally includes four victories in the Champion Hurdle, two apiece in the Gold Cup and Stayers’ Hurdle, and one Champion Chase win with Energumene last year.
At the 2022 Cheltenham Festival Mullins sent out a record 10 winners and he will be hoping to achieve a similar feat with some fantastic horses in his stable this year.
Facile Vega (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle), Galopin Des Champs (Gold Cup) and Energumene (Champion Chase) are just three of the Mullins horses that everyone is looking forward to seeing at the Festival.
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Mullins has rated Facile Vega very highly for quite some time now and it’s no secret that the horse will be a big favourite to win the Festival opener.
There have been some doubts in recent weeks after a surprise defeat in the Grade 1 Ireland Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown, although Mullins said that loss was down to jockey Paul Townend wasting too much energy early on in the race.
Facile Vega was incredible in last year’s Champion Bumper and the six-year-old could get Mullins off to the perfect start.
El Fabiolo is another bright hope for Mullins and has a strong chance in this two-mile steeplechase.
The six-year-old’s victory in the Arkle Novices Chase at Leopardstown in February was a performance of real authority that will have made many sit up and take notice ahead of Cheltenham.
El Fabiolo’s main rival will be Jonbon, although after the latter’s recent defeat in a two-runner race at Warwick there’s every chance that Mullins’ horse will be the one to beat.
This is going to be a really interesting race with the consensus seemingly being that Constitution Hill is unbeatable ahead of Tuesday’s showpiece.
However, State Man has a serious chance having beaten Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in February to make it six victories in a row.
Rivals such as Vauban have also been defeated in recent races and if State Man can maintain his form then he could be Constitution Hill’s closest rival at this year’s Festival.
Sir Gerhard aims for a third consecutive victory at the Festival, having won the Champion Bumper in 2021 and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle last year.
He won on his chasing debut at Gowran Park in January and looked very good during a 38-length victory that brought him plenty of backing at this race.
The eight-year-old’s Cheltenham experience could be important as he bids for a notable hat-trick.
Energumene won this race in style last year – finishing eight and a half lengths clear of his closest challenger and there’s every chance he can retain his crown.
Although he was beaten by Editeur Du Gite and Edwardstone in the recent Clarence House Chase, which was moved from Ascot to Newbury, Mullins is confident he can beat that pair this time.
Edwardstone is probably his main competitor for this year’s race but Energumene bounced back from losing the Clarence House last year and can do so again to land this prize.
Galopin Des Champs is a horse that many are excited to see at this year’s Festival and Mullins has the confidence that he can win the biggest prize of them all.
The seven-year-old fell at the last when 12 lengths clear in the Turners Novices’ Chase at the 2022 Festival – missing the chance to add to his victory in the 2021 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle – but has bounced back with three straight victories.
He made up eight lengths in the closing stages to win the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February and looks to be the horse to beat here.
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