My Festival team: Willie Mullins

  • Last Updated: March 5 2014, 14:28 GMT

Willie Mullins takes Sportinglife.com through his team for next week's Cheltenham Festival.

  • Hurricane Fly and Quevega: Head the Mullins charge
  • Annie Power: Confirmed for the World Hurdle 
  • Vautour: One of three runners in the Sky Bet Supreme 

Wicklow Brave, Vautour and Valseur Lido look to be my three for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle - they are top of the pile at the moment. Wicklow Brave is improving all the time and the form of his Listed win is holding up very well. He will appreciate the likely better ground at Cheltenham. Vautour is a good jumper and that is essential in the Supreme while Valseur Lido is somewhat of a dark horse who could be anything.

Champagne Fever looks set for the Racing Post Arkle and I was very happy with the way he jumped at Leopardstown, he was foot perfect. Ruby said he jumped from one fence to the next and described him as absolutely brilliant afterwards. We were both very pleased and after a win in both the bumper and the Supreme Novices', we know he loves Cheltenham.

Djakadam also schooled very well at Leopardstown and I'd imagine we're going to be looking at the JLT for him. The Arkle might be a bit short and I'm not sure I want to put a 5yo into the RSA at this stage of his career so the JLT is the most likely option for him.

At the moment we're also looking at the JLT for Felix Yonger as well. He is more ground dependant. He prefers good ground so the going will dictate where we go. He found it difficult to get out of the heavy ground at Limerick over the Christmas and again when running second in the Irish Arkle behind Trifolium.

He found the good going at Cheltenham much more to his liking over hurdles last year when he finished second to Simonsig in the Neptune so the better the ground, the better his chances this time around. We'll see what the ground is like closer to the day but with the Arkle on the Tuesday and the JLT on the Thursday, the latter race will give us two more days for the ground to dry out, if needs be.

Patrick and I were lucky enough to combine to win the four-miler (Terry Biddlecombe National Hunt Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase) last year with Back In Focus and at this stage it looks like Suntiep will be our challenger next week.

Annie Power will take her chance in the World Hurdle. I've said it many times that we simply do not know how good this mare is yet as she remains unbeaten in ten starts. We're very happy with where she is at the moment. We let her down after her last run at Doncaster at the end of January and we started to build her up again for Cheltenham - she's in tremendous order right now.

Quevega is very well. She missed a couple of days a few weeks ago but that was no harm as we were well ahead of schedule with her at the time anyway, so it hasn't interrupted her preparation. I'm very happy with where she is now.

Glens Melody is a definite for the Mares' Hurdle as well.

I mentioned back in October before he ran this season that Hurricane Fly had come in stronger than ever before after the wonderful summer that we had and he appears better than ever this year. For his own sake, I'd love it if he won again this year. He has won two Champion Hurdles and finished third in another when he wasn't right.

He never knows when he's beaten and I loved the way he fought all the way to the line the last day when it looked for a moment as if he may have been second. That was probably his best ever performance in my eyes. One more strong piece of work will put him spot on for the big day and we're very happy with him.

Rathvinden will probably go to the Neptune where Faugheen is also looking likely to run.

We were aiming Balnaslow at the National Hunt Chase but we might run him in the novice handicap chase now.

Briar Hill was very impressive in the bumper last year and he's unbeaten in his three novice hurdles this year. We're looking at the Albert Bartlett for him at the moment.

Arvika Ligeonniere is in both the Ryanair and the Champion Chase but we'd favour the Champion Chase at this stage. We might try to do a couple of things differently with him this year to see how they work.

Perfect Gentleman looks most likely to run in the Coral Cup, if he gets in, at this stage.

Uncle Junior, Sin Palo and Bishopsfurze all look set to take their place in the Cross-Country chase with Boxer Georg also a possible.

Noble Inn is a possible for the Fred Winter as is Wood Breizh at this stage. Noble Inn isn't the biggest but he's very tough and he's been improving with every run. He's one that will prefer better ground.

We look like we will have four runners in the Champion Bumper with Shaneshill, Black Hercules, Westhorpe and Killultagh Vic making the trip. Shaneshill and Black Hercules were always earmarked for the race while the latter paid booked their places with impressive wins the weekend before last. It's far too early yet to say who will be riding what in that race.

Boston Bob holds entries in the Ryanair, the Gold Cup and the World Hurdle and it's too early to rule him out of any race yet. He jumped well at Leopardstown on Sunday and David Casey was happy. He had missed a bit of time however and he needed that spin badly. He'll require another two good bits of work before we decide if we take him and for which race.

Ballycasey remains on target for the RSA Chase. He was going very well when he knuckled on landing while schooling at Leopardstown on Sunday - he did his best to stand up and it was an inexperienced horse's fall. We went back and jumped the last to give him confidence and he sailed over it. He's fine again now and it should go against him. He was brilliant at Leoaprdstown in the Dr P.J. Moriarty where he found plenty to beat two Grade One winners in Don Cossack and Carlingford Lough.

Prior to that he gave 7lb and an eight-length beating to Mount Colah and it was nice to see him come out and frank the form by beating Moscow Mannon and Mallowney last Sunday. He's by Presenting so the better ground at Cheltenham certainly won't go against him either.

Diakali is a possibility for the County Hurdle as is Arctic Fire, who is in the same ownership.

We intend to run Abbyssial in the Triumph, provided there is some give in the ground and Gitane Du Berlais could join him. Abbyssial will be a super chaser one day and Gitane Du Berlais is also a filly for the future who will improve. If we had a soft-ground Triumph like last year, they would both hold decent chances.


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