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FACILE VEGA VS. AMERICAN MIKE: Patrick Mullins excited for “head-to-head” tussle in Grade 1 Champion Bumper

Facile Vega could face off with American Mike is a fascinating clash at Cheltenham next month

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Amateur pilot Patrick Mullins believes next month’s Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival has the makings of an “excellent race” as he provided further thoughts on Closutton’s strong team for the race, including recent Leopardstown hero Facile Vega.

The Irishman steered the Wednesday finale favourite to a breathtaking success in County Kildare that saw the Hammer & Trowel Syndicate-owned 5-year-old move into odds-on for the contest in three weeks’ time.

WATCH: FACILE VEGA WINS IN IMPRESSIVE FASHION AT LEOPARDSTOWN [CREDIT: RACING TV]

That is despite the second most decorated point-to-point rider Jamie Codd being very confident on the chances of Gordon Elliot’s American Mike, who is 2-2 under rules.

Facile Vega ridden by Patrick Mullins wins The Leopardstown Flat Race during day one of the Leopardstown Christmas Ferstival at Leopardstown Racecourse, Dublin

But his rival is excited by the war of words ahead of the showdown at Prestbury Park.

He told Racing TV: “Facile Vega obviously has the best track form, but Redemption Day mirrors everything he does at home and I think James’s Gate has a lot of improvement in him so there are plenty of good spares there.

Trainer Willie Mullins after Turban won the Underwriting Exchange Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Steeplechase at Fairyhouse Racecourse, Ratoath, Ireland.
Willie Mullins trains 3 of the 4 market leaders for the Champion Bumper

“I think Willie’s record is usually that the favourite gets beat and one of the other ones comes and beats him! It would be nice to get a third victory in the race as I think Ruby (Walsh) has three so it would be great to equal him.

“It’s going to be an excellent race and Jamie is unusually bullish about American Mike so it will be good to go head-to-head with him up the hill.”

Dominic Chapman is senior content writer at Low6 with a passion for horse racing. He provides a NAP and NB every day throughout the week on selected National Hunt and Flat cards in both Britain and Ireland. Additionally, he hosts the Paddock Picks Podcast with former Welsh Grand National-winning pilot, Charlie Poste - the pair interviewing and discussing current racing topics with a special guest every week.