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Cheltenham Clues: Leopardstown and Fairyhouse | Willie Mullins’ superstars dominate the Dublin Racing Festival

A reflection on recent National Hunt action in Ireland as Willie Mullins stole the show at the Dublin Racing Festival

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Horses during the 2017 Easter Festival at Fairyhouse Racecourse in Co. Meath, Ireland
Willie Mullins took a breathtaking hold of the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend, winning NINE of the 15 races stages at Leopardstown.

The Closutton trainer took six of the eight total Grade 1s on offer over the two days, including the Dublin Chase, the Flogas Novice Chase and the Irish Gold Cup.

The action got underway with the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle, with Gaillard Du Mesnil kicking off the string of top-graded successes for the Mullins yard.

The five-year-old, who is now the 7/2 favourite for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, made good headway three out before keeping on strongly and winning easily by five lengths.

Mouse Morris’ Gentlemansgame was too keen at times, but caught attention in the closing stages with a solid effort to take second from Stattler in the final strides.

Chacun Pour Soi stepped up next in the Dublin Chase, making easy work of the field to claim a fifth career Grade 1 success.

The nine-year-old took the lead going into the last before quickening up in the run-in and easing home, and has now been shortened to the 5/6 favourite for the Champion Chase.

There was some concern for Min, who has seen his price for the Ryanair go up from 5s to 7s, after he jumped poorly throughout the contest and was pulled up by Patrick Mullins before four out.

A new novice chasing star at the minimum trip was brought into the spotlight, after Energumene landed an impressive 10-length victory in the Irish Arkle.

The seven-year-old, who is still unbeaten over fences and now an 11/4 shot for the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham, made all and stormed home in the final stages with minimal effort to give Mullins a hat-trick in the opening three races on the card.

Franco Du Port made some headway in the final stages against the remainder of the field to take a deserved second, while Blackbow completed the 1-2-3 for the 14-time Irish Champion Trainer.

Honeysuckle produced a career-best performance in the Irish Champion Hurdle after seeing off talented opposition and bolting up to win by 10 lengths. Henry De Bromhead’s mare travelled strongly throughout before going clear two out and keeping on well to win easily.

The seven-year-old has established herself as a true challenger to Epatante in the Festival’s Champion Hurdle, with both now being joint favourites at 5/2.

Saturday concluded with another standout performance from the Willie Mullins’ yard as Kilcruit made himself a worthy contender for the Champion Bumper.

The six-year-old, who has seen his price slashed from 10/1 to 6/4 for the Festival’s feature flat race, eased clear in the final furlong to record a 12-length victory in comfortable fashion.

Sunday’s Grade 1 action started with the Spring Juvenile Hurdle, which saw Quilixios put in an impressive performance to remain unbeaten over the smaller obstacles.

The four-year-old, who was making his debut in Graded company, made light work of the field and kept on strongly in the closing stages to win comfortably by five-and-a-half lengths. Gordon Elliott’s prospect saw his price snipped to 6/1 for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Willie Mullins’s hot streak of winners continued, as Appreciate It produced another strong performance at Leopardstown to land the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle.

The seven-year-old had to work hard in the final stages, but he easily dealt with the challenge from the imposing Ballyadam and kept on well to win by three-and-a-half lengths. Appreciate It saw his price shortened for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle once again, as his odds were trimmed from 11/4 to 7/4.

Monkfish recorded back-to-back Grade 1 successes over fences, as he made all in an eye-catching performance in the Flogas Novice Chase.

The seven-year-old, who has been knocked down into 10/11 for this year’s renewal of the RSA Chase, jumped fluently and eased clear in the closing stages, overcoming rival Latest Exhibition in emphatic fashion.

The weekend’s feature race saw Willie Mullins record his 11th win in the Irish Gold Cup, as Kemboy landed his first success over fences in nearly two years.

The nine-year-old, who is now 10/1 for the Ryanair Chase and 12/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup,  made all in the contest and kept on well after fighting off a late challenge from Gordon Elliott’s The Storyteller, who ran a cracker at big odds.

On Monday afternoon, Roseys Hollow sprung a surprise at Fairyhouse as she saw off two talented runners on her Graded debut to land the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle.

Jonathan Sweeney’s seven-year-old jumped into the lead at the second last and kept on well to fend off the challenging Royal Kahala and claim a two-length victory. Willie Mullins’ Gauloise failed to get on terms in the closing stages and had to settle for third.

Roseys Hollow was made 6/1 favourite for this year’s Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, while Royal Kahala and Gauloise sit were pushed out from 5/1 to 7/1 and 9/1 respectively.

M C Muldoon gave Willie Mullins his tenth victory in three days, as the progressing sort claimed his first win over obstacles in a maiden hurdle.

The six-year-old, who has been trimmed into 50/1 for the Ballymore and 66/1 for the Supreme, made a clumsy leap at the last but was able to see off the late challenging Whowinsthetoss to win by three quarters of a length.

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