LEADING Sir des Champ to Gold Cup glory would represent the pinnacle in the glittering career of Willie Mullins.
The storied Irish trainer arrived at the Cheltenham Festival this week with more than 30 runners (5 winners before today’s racing) but said victory in the Cotswolds this afternoon would be the realisation of his greatest ambition.
Mullins, who has twice trained horses to second place in the race (Florida Pearl 2000 and Hedgehunter 2006) is hoping to emulate the achievement of his father Paddy, who famously guided Dawn Run to victory in the Gold Cup in 1986.
But an Irish-trained horse has not won the race since Mouse Morris’s War of Attrition beat Mullins to the prize in 2006.
The Carlow-based trainer said: “Obviously we’d like to win it, everyone would like to win it, it’s what you dream of if you are involved in jump racing and I’ve come second in it twice before.”
But the trainer will take-on this challenge without the services of Ruby Walsh who will be bidding for success on the Paul Nicholls’ trained Silviniaco Conti, and Davy Russell, who punctured a lung in a fall yesterday.
AP McCoy is now expected to replace Russell.
Mullins says Silviniaco Conti isthe one to beat while Irish Post columnist Dougie Costello said:
“Sir des Champ has hit the crossbar a couple of times” – second to Flemenstar in Punchestown on December 9and second in the Lexus Chase, before beating Flemenstar in the Hennessy Gold Cup in Leopardstown – “but he does come to life in Cheltenham and Willie Mullins says he’s working really well, and you have to take Willie at his word.”