The Closutton maestro, Willie Mullins is on the cusp of being crowned champion trainer in Ireland for the 15th time at the conclusion of the Punchestown Festival.
Mullins a big supporter of Punchestown revealed; ‘Punchestown is what we always look forward to. There is huge prize money, fantastic racing, they always produce great ground and just the amphitheatre of Punchestown itself.
“I love going up there on the Sunday before the Festival to walk the track and just looking back on the track from the top of the hill, it is just an amazing place.
“I often think there is no racetrack like it in the world when you see it laid out for five days racing and all the different rails that are set up. It’s just amazing and the whole concept of the Punchestown Festival is huge when you see the work and preparation that goes into it.
“Prize money is key to any sport, I think. The new Punchestown is a different ball game altogether, my father would have been delighted to be training nowadays to see the facilities and the ground that they produce.”
Looking ahead to the battalions that Mullins is readying for battle at the Punchestown Festival, we can expect both quantity and quality as the Punchestown prize money is too lucrative to ignore.
“There is fantastic prize money so we are not putting them out to grass just yet. They’ll get plenty of grass in the summer!”
The tone of strong representation of Irish point-to-pointers will be set in the opening Grade 1 event of the week, the eCOMM Merchant Solutions Champion Novice Hurdle in which Appreciate It leads the charge.
“Appreciate It has surprised me,” Mullins admitted. “I never dreamt he had that much speed but he jumps, he gallops as well. He probably takes a lot of speed out of horses with the cruising speed he has as well and will definitely go for the eCOMM Merchant Solutions Champion Novice Hurdle.
Appreciate It won his point-to-point maiden at Dromahane in 2018 for Tipperary handler Pat Doyle.
Tuesday’s Grade 1 Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase has the potential to be a race for the ages with former Irish pointers Envoi Allen and Monkfish likely to lock horns for the first time and once again the Mullins support cast is enviable.
“Monkfish didn’t jump with the same flair that he jumped (with previously) and he didn’t gallop with the same flair (at Cheltenham) but he’ll go for the three mile race.
“Colreevy has been covered by Walk In The Park and she will go for the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase. That will probably be her last run. The Flynns are out and out breeders and she is a fantastic looking mare and hopefully she’ll be lucky.
Monkfish started his career with Wexford based handler Cormac Doyle, the seven-year-old son of Stowaway won his maiden at Stowlin in 2018.
Colreevy is another graduate of Pat Doyle’s Suirview Stables, the mare was unlucky to come down at the final fence whilst still in contention with eventual winner Posh Trish.