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Photo-Finish set to spark Mullins Festivities

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Photo-Finish set to spark Mullins Festivities

His measured Irish Lilt transmits an air of hypnotic anticipation.

“It’s like Christmas as a child”, he suggests, “You wait 365 days, then thankfully it arrives”.

Over their breakfast of choice; a countrywide swathe of racing enthusiasts, tune-in to the Opening Show, on terrestrial TV.

Listening intently to the musings of legendary horseman Willie Mullins; they fine-comb his utterings with the detail of Bletchley Park veterans – craving the merest indicator toward a potential cup of gold.

The 2021 Cheltenham National Hunt Festival dawns.

The annual pilgrimage to Prestbury Park dates back to 1902. (Current restrictions not-withstanding), 250,000 spectators would be expected to attend. Regardless; the very best equine specimens will gather, to contest the twenty-eight championship races over the four-day meet, culminating in the blue-riband Gold Cup event.

The unforgiving obstacles positioned around this premier undulating left-handed circuit, provide an unrivalled equestrian challenge; matched-only by the strength-sapping climb to the winning-post. And with Cleeve Hill as its backdrop, the resplendent scenery could inspire JMW Turner to reach for his easel.

With seventy-two winners to-date; Willie Mullins is the most successful trainer in Cheltenham Festival history. Mentored by his Father Paddy and close friend Jim Bolger, the former gifted amateur rider, gained his trainers licence in 1988.

Mullins’ first Cheltenham success arrived in 1996, when ‘Whither or Which’ obliged in the Champion Bumper (a race he has subsequently won on a further nine occasions).

On the eve of the 2021 event, Mullins’ county Carlow Yard are in rude health (as evidenced by their stellar performance at the recent Dublin Festival), and despite the expected challenge from contemporaries; Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson and Gordon Elliott, only the foolhardy would bet against him securing the ‘Top Trainer Accolade,’ once again.

Jewel-in-the-Crown Al Boum Photo, attempts to emulate the legendary Arkle and Best Mate, in securing a third straight Gold Cup, while the highly impressive Chacun Pour Soi, could provide Mullins with a first-ever Champion Chase success.

On a personal level; Honeysuckle – the mount of Rachael Blackmore (Champion Hurdle), looks most appealing.

However; if this years renewal should pass-you-by, console yourself with the fact that in 365 Days…

 

We hope you enjoyed this article ‘Photo-Finish set to spark Mullins Festivities’. Are you looking forward to the 2021 Cheltenham festival? Will Al Boum Photo win the Gold Cup for the third successive year? Let us know!

 

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Born in 1963, Peter attended St Mary's Leith High School. Peter worked within the plumbing industry before studying a degree in journalism within the University of Stirling. Peter has been a lifelong sports fan and has volunteered within the Edinburgh Soccer School's programme on numerous occasions.

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