Ruby Walsh: Here’s how the Willie Mullins horses are shaping up for the jump season

Ruby looks ahead to what should be an exciting season for the Irish Champion Trainer and his horses...

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It was an amazing performance from Willie Mullins to end up winning the Trainers’ Championship, considering at the start of the year 60 horses walked out of the yard. Those spots simply had to be filled up and away we went again.

It was a long year, but we got there in the end.

We’ve had a better start to the season this year, numerically at least. But every weekend from now until Christmas – and beyond – is a big one.

Here’s how I see the Mullins stable shaping up this year.

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Melon looks good, although he has to improve ratings-wise in order to get to the very top. But he did well in Down Royal, which was a good performance for his first run of the season. He was on something of a hiding to nothing there, but he did his reputation no harm. There’s plenty of scope for improvement.

Douvan is in great order, but where he’s going to start I don’t know. It didn’t seem to spark for him last season – he was winning, but not with the same authority as in previous years. That was a little bit disappointing but he seems in good form at home.

His presence is back.

Min looks in good shape. He’s working away and is nearing a return. Like Douvan, it’s hard to know where he’s going to start – perhaps the John Durkan Memorial Chase next month at Punchestown . So far he’s looked like an out-and-out 2-miler, but who knows? He’s a year older so might be able to go a bit further.

I think he’s a stayer.

I think Yorkhill a hell of a horse and has a great future ahead of him. Bamako Moriviere, meanwhile, has taken a long time to fulfil the promise we thought he had when we bought him. But he seems to have come of age in the last while with his two wins.

Footpad’s work has been very good prior to his win at Navan last weekend – he’s schooled well. He was fourth in the Cheltenham Hurdle, and might have finished third had he settled better. That’s high-class form with which to go chasing. He’s a horse that takes on his fences, and finds it effortless to jump. That’s a huge advantage in a chase.

Willie’s delighted with him.

Invitation Only is in good form and, like Footpad, has schooled well. He’s in really good order. He hasn’t built on his win at Gowran Park and may even have gone backwards, but he looks well at the moment and we’re very happy with him. He’s a year older now, and hopefully wiser for it.

Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini are both on very solid form. Limini will be out about three weeks from now. Things didn’t happen for Vroum Vroum last year, but she seems to be going well at the moment and, fingers crossed, will progress. Limini’s in good order, but she found Apples Jade too good for her last year.

Let’s Dance is a lovely mare, but out of novice company now and things are always harder in open company.

Champion Steeplechase-winner Un de Sceaux is in great nick, and still as enthusiastic as ever. I’m not sure when he’s going to start his campaign, but is working really well. He was brilliant last season, loves soft ground and is a cracking horse.

Another one in good auld form is Great Field. He’s stepping into open company now, and will eventually have to take on Altior, Duvan and Un de Sceaux, so it’s a big step up for him.

Ruby’s Ante Post Lucky 15

Espoir Dallen – Triumph Hurdle, Cheltenham

Footpad – Arkle Chase, Cheltenham

Faugheen – Champion Hurdle, Cheltenham

Nichols Canyon – Stayers Hurdle, Cheltenham

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What do you think?