Who can stop Willie Mullins? As concerns over his ‘dominance’ rise, bookies say three Festival chases are his to lose


CAN anyone stop Willie Mullins?

The genius Irish trainer enjoyed another sensational Christmas period, hoovering up Grade 1s for fun while his rivals could only look on.

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Even politicians like Taoiseach Leo Varadkar want their photo taken with the all-conquering MullinsCredit: Sportsfile

Mullins, 66, even joked about picking up his ‘annual cheque’ at Tramore on New Year’s Day when Quais De Paris made total fools of his ‘rivals’.

It might have been a relatively lowly £5,500 – but far, far bigger riches await at Cheltenham Festival.

And, starting 11 weeks today, bookies have already priced up three Mullins’ horses as favourites for the big chases.

Brighton owner Tony Bloom’s Energumene is 4-6 to defend his Champion Chase crown.

Allaho is 13-8 to return from injury with a third consecutive Ryanair.

And the mercurial Galopin Des Champs is 7-4 for Friday’s blockbuster Gold Cup.

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Coral’s David Stevens said: “Galopin Des Champs heads Coral’s betting for the Boodle’s Gold Cup at 7-4, while his Mullins-trained stablemate, Energumene, is 4-6 (from 4-5) favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, following today’s entry stage for these Cheltenham Festival contests.

“Shishkin was a notable absentee from the Champion Chase, but is 25-1 for the Gold Cup, and 6-1 for the Ryanair Chase, for which Allaho is Coral’s 13-8 market leader.

“Mullins houses the favourites for the Gold Cup, Champion Chase and Ryanair, and in all three cases they are red-hot market leaders, suggesting it will be another fruitful Festival for the Closutton maestro come March.”

Since 2011, Mullins has been Cheltenham’s top trainer an incredible nine times.

But such dominance has led to concerns around whether he is too, well, dominant.

ITV Racing presenter Alice Plunkett was one of those to voice her thoughts over the festive period.

She said: “If youre another trainer in Ireland how do you land a blow? His domination is so huge.

“I have the hugest respect for him and love what he’s doing for Irish racing, but it is quite an issue having someone so dominant.

“It does change the feel of it

“But it’s not changing anytime soon – so let’s enjoy the great horses!”

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