Willie Mullins will use the Cheltenham Festival 2017 as a prep for Punchestown.

Why?

It is my personal belief Willie Mullins the man has one major aim for this current National Hunt season and that is to retain his Irish champion trainer’s title. It is important because of the O’Leary/Gigginstown issues early in the season and Willie needs to show he is still No.1. It is important for Vautour and what he could have been. It is important that owners such as Wylie and Ricci and their moneyed ilk don’t look towards Elliott, de Bromhead and the rest. From the start Mullins was about a month behind because he allegedly couldn’t get his top horses on the grass gallops and into fast work. So with Elliot turning the screw in the race for the title I believe Mullins could be counting back from Punchestown instead this season to ensure he can maximise his winnings there.

Whatever turns up to run at Cheltenham in whatever race will be even better six weeks later, in the “right” race and primed to run the race of their lives. Mullins doesn’t have much in the novice hurdle division currently and he could be mob handed at Cheltenham as he tries to find an A team for Punchestown.

So the fact we haven’t seen the likes of Faugheen, Limini and Melon yet may not concern their trainer as much as it does the Cheltenham Fez (sic) fanboys!

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