Ruby Walsh on Willie Mullins stars including Kemboy, Al Boum Photo and Klassical Dream

Paul Townend celebrates as Al Boum Photo wins the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup
Paul Townend celebrates as Al Boum Photo wins the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup

Ruby Walsh provides an update on some of the leading contenders from Willie Mullins yard ahead of the National Hunt season starting in earnest.

Klassical Dream

Klassical Dream looks really well after the summer and his aim will be the Champion Hurdle next March.

Where he starts off this year I don’t know, but Willie Mullins usually likes to start off the Champion Hurdle contenders around Morgiana Hurdle time next month at Punchestown.

He was the best two-mile novice hurdler last year when winning the Supreme Novices Hurdle, but all novices have to prove themselves the season after, when they step into open company.

Hopefully he can progress as the Champion Hurdle looks wide-open after the sad death of last year’s winner, Espoir D’Allen.

Buveur D’Air was a little hit-and-miss last year so maybe there’s an opening and Klassical Dream can step into it.

He’s a great jumper and just kept learning and maturing all through last season and would be an exciting addition to the Champion Hurdle field.

Klassical Dream wins at Punchestown
Klassical Dream wins at Punchestown

Laurina

Laurina hasn’t run since flopping in the Champion Hurdle, where she ran very flat. No reason emerged for her under-performance that day and we’ll have to see whether she stays hurdling or switches to fences this season.

Saldier

We only saw Saldier once last season, where he fell at Naas behind Espoir D’Allen. He looks a million dollars at the moment and we’re pretty happy with him. He was a good juvenile, is a very classy horse and is probably flying under the radar a bit.

There’s usually a natural progression with horses from four to five-years-old and hopefully he’s made the transition now and can kick-on this season.

Mr Adjudicator

Mr Adjudicator was actually second in that contest, but has been busy during the summer and will probably have a break and come back later in the year.

Mr Adjudicator (left) and Farclas jump the last together
Mr Adjudicator (left) and Farclas jump the last together

Al Boum Photo

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo looks great as does last season’s Savills Chase winner at Leopardstown, Kemboy. He only made it to the first at Cheltenham but turned the tables on his stablemate at Punchestown in a race that signalled my retirement.

I’m sure the Gold Cup is the target for them again, but it’s how they get there is the question.

I don’t think they’ll race against each other too often between now and March, but it all depends on how the season pans out.

Kemboy

Al Boum Photo likes a good dig in the ground, while Kemboy wouldn’t really want it too soft, so the ground conditions will probably determine what routes they take as much as anything else.

We won’t be swapping them for anything, anyway!

Ruby Walsh rides Kemboy to victory
Ruby Walsh rides Kemboy to victory

Melon

Melon will go chasing and was schooled over fences before he went out to grass.

On his best form he wasn’t far off Champion Hurdle class finishing runner-up in 2018 and 2019. His schooling has been very good and wouldn’t have to improve much – if at all on his very best form – to be a genuine Arkle contender.

Bennie De Deux

Bennie De Deux will probably have the Mares Hurdle as her long-term aim and was a brilliant winner of the French Champion Hurdle after winning at Punchestown.

She proved she stays 3m really well. Personally, I can’t see her going back chasing, but that’s not to say it won’t happen.

Chacun Pour Soi

Speaking of chasers, Chacun Pour Soi was brilliant at Punchestown when winning the Grade One Novice Chase.

The form of that contest is incredibly strong. He has to move into open company this season and only has the two runs over fences under his belt. He’s been spectacular in what we’ve asked him to do so far and hopefully he can progress again this season. He has a lot of pace but also has plenty of stamina in his pedigree too, so mightn’t be confined to two miles.

Chacun Pour Soi was awesome at Punchestown
Chacun Pour Soi was awesome at Punchestown

Cilaos Emery

Cilaos Emery is another inexperienced horse stepping into open company and will have to get more runs under his belt this season if he’s going to be competitive in the bigger graded races.

Duc Des Genievres

Duc Des Genievres is the most experienced of the novices and won the Arkle last year, before getting beaten at Punchestown. He’s going in the right direction.

Un de Sceaux

Un de Sceaux still has all his old enthusiasm and if we get a wetter winter than we got last year that should help him. He’s run in the Tingle Creek a few times and if the vibes are that Altior will step up in trip this season, then he could be heading to Sandown as his owners aren’t afraid to travel.

Faugheen

Some of the others have been on the sidelines for a bit, so we’re taking it day-by-day with them. Faugheen is back in training and looks well but we don’t know yet whether he will run over hurdles or fences this season or even where he might start off just yet. We’ll take it day-by-day with him and wait and see.

Faugheen limbering up at Closutton
Faugheen limbering up at Closutton

Douvan

Douvan is like Faugheen. It’s one day at a time with him but we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Penhill

Our 2018 Stayer’s Hurdle winner Penhill is also back in training. He’s got a chequered history and hasn’t run since finishing second to Faugheen at Punchestown in 2018. Again, it’s one day at a time with him. We know he goes well fresh having won the Stayers Hurdle after almost a year off the track.

If he didn’t run until closer to next March, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for him.

Ruby Walsh was speaking exclusively to Paddy Power News. To read more, visit news.paddypower.com


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