We highlight the pick of the quotes from the visit to Willie Mullins' Closutton yard ahead of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival - WATCH the video too.
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Big two all set for Gold Cup
Al Boum Photo
"We've had no trouble with him this season, so fingers crossed everything stays right between now and the Gold Cup.
"We will take him away somewhere to school - we were just discussing that this morning. We'll take him wherever we can get in, just for a day away rather than a hard piece of work.
"I thought last year's Gold Cup was very tough and I don't think this year looks any tougher. He's in great form anyway and I think his preparation will be good for him - he's going there in good order and in a good frame of mind.
"I think he has a fantastic chance. I would assume Paul (Townend) is going to ride him again. The final bits of work will probably dictate that.
"He's won over the track and everything. If I was Paul, I'd find it very hard to get off him."
"I don't like it when a horse falls at a track, but hopefully he can put that behind him. His two runs this year have been very good. He needed the run at Christmas and I thought his run the other day was fantastic.
"If he could be in the top three or four, I'd be delighted. I think drier ground would help him and he probably has a better chance of getting that on the last day of the Festival than earlier in the week.
"He stayed on well in Leopardstown. He stays well enough, but he has it all to do I think."
"David (Mullins) is back riding out. Danny could ride him, David could ride him - we've got a good selection of jockeys. At this stage I'm not too worried about jockeys. I just worry about getting the horses there and we'll see what happens from there."
Champion team taking shape
Un De Sceaux
"My connections are very keen to go to the Champion Chase with Un De Sceaux. Whether he should be going for the Ryanair, I don't know, but the Champion Chase looks the plan at the moment. I think we got the tactics wrong in the Ryanair last year. If we run in the Champion Chase, we'll just let him run his usual race up front.
"He still retains a huge amount of ability at his age. I'd love to see lots of rain for him - I think that will be crucial. I think part of the plan could be for Patrick (Mullins) to ride him. It's probably going to be his last hurrah in Cheltenham."
Chacun Pour Soi
"He needed the race at Christmas and was good the last day - I think he's improving all the time.
"I'm not worried about Cheltenham for him. He seems to handle any pace and has won at different tracks. For him to take on what he took on in Punchestown last season and do what he did was fantastic.
"We just need to get him there now in good shape. The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a spectacular race. Everyone likes to knock off another achievement and it would be great to have it on the CV."
"I'd imagine we'll try to keep him and Chacun Pour Soi apart and run Min in the Ryanair. I don't think he jumped as well as he needed to in Leopardstown the last day, but he still ran a good race and I don't think the longer trip will be any problem for him - he's won over two and a half before. I'd imagine Duc Des Genievres will run in the Ryanair as well."
Emery leads Champion Hurdle challenge
"Cilaos Emery after his win at Gowran (G3 Red Mulls Trial Hurdle, 15 February) will be supplemented for the Unibet Champion Hurdle. The thinking is that he will have a better chance of being placed in a Champion Hurdle than he would in the Champion Chase.
"The Red Mills race came up, so we said let's see what he can do, and he did it. The prize money won there will go towards the funds for Cheltenham. He was not spectacular in winning in Gowran, but I loved what he did from the third last after making a complete mess of it. He put the race to bed in few strides, which was good enough for me and Luke [McMahon, owner] to make the decision to supplement. It is such an open Champion Hurdle.
"It has been hard to get horses to the race this year - that has been half the battle. When you see the injuries that have beset horses going for the Champion Hurdle, not just here but from other yards as well, it shows just how tough it is getting horses to Cheltenham."
"Sharjah will also run. His run the other day in Leopardstown was terrible. We don't know why he did it, although he missed the first hurdle down the back. He is usually an excellent jumper and hopefully he can put that behind him. I would prefer if the Champion Hurdle was run on the last day for him, as he wants drier ground. I would imagine Patrick will ride him."
Mares and stayers
Benie Des Dieux
"Benie Des Dieux is in the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle. She was a very unlucky loser there last year. She is also in the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle. I would like to go back and get a bit of unfinished business done. You are guaranteed softer ground on the first day of The Festival and that is a big plus for her. She is a hell of a mare.
"I thought what she did in France last year [winning French Champion Hurdle] was probably completely missed by people over here. She beat their unbeaten mare De Bon Coeur and in France I don't think they could believe what she did at Auteuil. Had she stood up in Cheltenham last year, maybe things would be different, but then again maybe they would be the same because I am a creature of habit.
"I curtailed her chasing career because it is easier to win money and keep them sound over hurdles. She has not raced a lot and that is because I had soundness issues with her. It is all very well planning difficult races for her, but I have got her to a stage now where I can run her two or three times a year, and I would like to stay at that.
"If she ever went chasing again, she could line up in a Gold Cup any day of the week. Three miles and two furlongs would not be any trouble to her."
"Stormy Ireland has booked her ticket for the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle. Her win at Naas was very good and I was very pleased. We tend to let her do what she wants to do and that is the way she likes to run. She is a bit more relaxed now, but she does like to be there or thereabouts."
"Penhill ran very well in Navan [2nd in Boyne Hurdle] the other day. He came out of the race well. He normally comes out of his races a bit stiff. I had to get that run into him and I think he needed it. Paul (Townend, jockey) said he thought he was going to win at the second last and then he took a blow. That should put him right for the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle.
"I have managed to get more runs into him this season. As he has got older, he is taking a lot more training. He is holding on to his condition much more, which is a good thing, but means it is harder for me to get him ready. The run the other day should help put him in the right place, but he will need an away day as well I think."
"Bacardys will also run in the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle. He ran well in it a couple of years ago. I ran him back too quickly after he won at Navan in November."
Strength in novice chase division
"He is well after his run in Leopardstown, but myself and Rich haven't spoken about it (Cheltenham). Rich actually text me last night because he knew the press were coming this morning and he said to me 'do remember we haven't spoken about it'!
"I was delighted that he was able to come back and win two Grade Ones and he's been in great shape since his last run. I couldn't get over the reaction in the stands in Leopardstown. If I was ever moved at a race meeting - and I'm not normally - that was the day. He got the best reception I've ever seen.
"I've never said it's over for him. I was disappointed with myself that I didn't go chasing last season and I just wanted to go chasing with him before he retired.
"People said we should retire him, but we still have Wither Or Which out there in the field at 29 years of age and it's a long life. There's a lot more life in horses than people give them credit for and it's maybe not that great being stood in a field retired in this weather!
"I'm happy he's come back and proven a point. We'll have to discuss where we go next. I want to hear Rich's views."
"He goes for the Arkle. He reminds me of Un De Sceaux - he has that same style of racing and training.
"He likes to run and jump and if we get soft or heavy in the going description for him, I'll be very pleased.
"Melon will go for the Marsh. He showed us the last day he wants a trip. While his jumping is good, it's not sharp enough for the Arkle.
"He has good Festival form without winning - he's been second in the Supreme and in two Champion Hurdles. Maybe we've just been running him over the wrong trip."
"We've been aiming him at the National Hunt Chase from a long way out. He gallops and jumps and while he doesn't look fast, he has more speed than it appears.
"To look at him you'd think he was a plodder - he's not the most handsome brute in the place, but he's a good horse."
"I was talking to Cheveley Park the other day and the RSA is the probable race for him. He's light on experience, but he gallops and jumps. We'll see how he works between now and then. He could go back for the Marsh, but at the moment I'm aiming at the RSA."
"It is still up for grabs with Easy Game. He could go for the Marsh Novices' Chase or RSA Insurance Novices' Chase. I would like to go where the ground is going to be best with this fella. I think that will dictate where he goes. His improvement over fences is extraordinary.
"The day we bought him we were looking at him as a hurdle horse that could maybe go back on the Flat. I did not dream that he would ever jump a fence. Robbie Power was buzzing when he got off him last time - he said he is a complete natural and that he'd ride him anywhere over fences. He is a horse who has surprised me nicely."
Tornado Flyer & Royal Rendezvous
"Tornado Flyer disappointed me a bit over two miles. I thought he could cut the mustard over two - he is closely related to Hurricane Fly. The last day he told me that he needs two and a half. He will go for the Marsh Novices' Chase I would imagine. Royal Rendezvous is owned by Randox Health who sponsor the Grand National. He could run here too."
Strong novice hurdle squad
"I spoke to Joe Donnelly [owner] about Asterion Forlonge and he said do whatever you want. At the moment, we feel the horse should go for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and that is where we are headed.
"I had been aiming this horse for the Albert Bartlett. I had two races marked out the first day he ran over hurdles, one in Cork and one in Naas. I decided to run Golden Spread in the three miler at Cork and this fella in the two miler at Naas, so when Golden Spread got beaten out of sight, I said: 'Jesus, not only have I run this horse in the wrong race, now I am going to get the other fella beaten.' I said to Paul on the day, just jump out and make it because this fella shows us no speed at home, and then he bolted in. I said after we would leave him in the two-mile race at Leopardstown, as on good ground that will tell us where to go in Cheltenham, and he answered that question.
"It is very sporting of Joe to run him and Shishkin in the Supreme, but that has always been Joe's attitude. He says do whatever you think you should do with the horses. I am sure he says the same to Nicky Henderson. The Supreme Novices' Hurdle is a great start to The Festival, and it should be the same this year. Berkshire Royal is still in there. I have not got a run into him, as he had stone bruise before Leopardstown. He did a bit of work yesterday and is in great shape. I think he is good enough but obviously he would lack huge experience. I ran Concertista first time out in the mares' novice last year and I could do the same with this fella, depending on how he works.
"We will keep Asterion Forlonge and The Big Getaway apart. Having spoken to my team this morning, we are pretty happy that The Big Getaway goes for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle.
"I was delighted with him last time and he is coming along nicely. You look at him and just think 'we will be talking about him next year,' because he looks a chaser everywhere. I hope he can run a good race in Cheltenham, although the Ballymore looks a bloody hot race.
"I would imagine Monkfish will go for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle. His form got a boost yesterday. He was very green in his first run at Fairyhouse - he looked like he had never been on a racecourse before. We changed a few tactics next time and it worked. I think he is improving. He is a light-framed horse who does not take a lot of training. He is one for the future.
"Lord Royal was disappointing yesterday, but I am not losing faith in him. He could still pitch up here as well. I thought he looked very green yesterday.
"Aione has won two auction hurdles. If he travels, I imagine he will go for the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle, although he could stay at home for the Red Mills auction final. I am reliably informed that he is named after a river in Russia, although when I put it in Google Maps it came up as somewhere in Italy!
"Janidil is in all the handicaps and we will see what mark he gets, but I am thinking does he have a good profile for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle? He has lots of runs and his rating of 145 is good enough to be there. I like the fact we have run all season. Perhaps connections (J P McManus) have something better for the Albert Bartlett, but I would like to look at it. Mark Walsh loves him.
"Colreevy is still in a few of the novices' hurdles. Although we will have a few in the Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle, realistically she has to go there. I think Dolcita is quite good and she will run here as well. She ran badly at Fairyhouse [finished third] and disappointed us, but I think there is way more to come from her. Lamarckise is still in the picture for this. She looks a nice type. She has been hard to train and I think it was her ability that got her through the other day, as Paul said she blew up five times. That is the expression he used anway. Whatever she does in Cheltenham, she will be a nice mare for the future."
Bumper horses and others
"Appreciate It has done everything right on last couple of runs. He looks to have a big chance in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Although he is by Jeremy, he is a big chasing type. He gallops all day and has a huge cruising speed, which is probably what you need for Cheltenham. He would have to be one of our main hopes of the week. Ferny Hollow could also go here. He is entered at Fairyhouse this weekend, so we will see what happens there. Five Bar Brian had a good run in England, had a bit of trouble, and he ended up over here. He won the other day and I think there is a lot of improvement. I think connections would like to have a runner at The Festival. We will see how he is. To me, Eric Bloodaxe looked the best bumper horse in Ireland until his run the last day.
"Franco De Port will be entered in all the handicaps. I am trying to think which one he will get in to. I would say the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle could be the race. We decided to make the running on him at Limerick over Christmas and it was the wrong decision - it probably gutted him. He ran better behind Stormy Ireland at Naas and, given what he showed me before Limerick, we think he is a nice sort.
"Ciel De Neige ran a cracker the other day to be second in the Betfair Hurdle, perhaps a shade unlucky. He is in all the handicaps over in Cheltenham. He went up 3lb for Newbury.
"Billaway runs in the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase. I thought he was very impressive in Naas, and I love Naas as a track to trial any horse for Cheltenham. He is a young horse coming through the ranks and put away some half decent hunters. I think he has a big chance."