Willie Mullins hopes he has the ammunition to finally break his Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup hoodoo, with four live chances heading for the blue riband event.
Kemboy, Bellshill, Al Boum Photo and Invitation Only give the leading trainer at the meeting an enviable hand in the Festival’s annual feature race – which somehow has eluded his grasp so far.
With Kemboy winning the Savills Chase at Christmas and Bellshill landing the Irish Gold Cup, they appear his two big guns – but Al Boum Photo and Thyestes winner Invitation Only are not to be taken lightly.
“There’s Al Boum Photo, Invitation Only, Kemboy and Bellshill – and I’ll probably run as many as I can. Those four can run there, anyway,” Mullins said at a press morning at his Clossuton yard.
“It would be nice to win the Gold Cup, and we have as good a chance this year as any. You can make cases for them all.
“Belshill jumps particularly well, and we saw Kemboy skip over those fences in Leopardstsown. I hope he’ll be able to do the same in Cheltenham.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Al Boum Photo yet. We decided we’d take Al Boum Photo to Cheltenham fresh. He shouldn’t have any problem with the Gold Cup trip.
“Invitation Only probably has to step up a bit. That’s the way I see the four of them.”
Kemboy burst on to the Gold Cup scene at Christmas when a very impressive winner – and good ground would aid his cause.
“Kemboy put in a huge performance at Christmas in Leopardstown on very good ground. If it comes up like that on the fourth day of Cheltenham – which it can – he must have a very good chance.
“I think the further he goes the better he’ll be, too. He’s one that has sort of jumped out this season. He got a very brave ride at Christmas, and it paid off.”
Asked whether David Mullins would keep the ride, Mullins added: “I haven’t made any jockey arrangements at all for the Gold Cup. We’ll do what we normally do and leave it until the last week, but he and David are a very good combination.”
He added: “Bellshill has lots of stamina and jumps particularly well, I think. That’s a huge plus for him.
“Cheltenham hasn’t been Bellshill’s luckiest place. Maybe this is the year that he’s going to change that.
“He’s handling left-handed tracks well, so that will do for me going over there.
“I think he is now the horse we thought he would be. I think it’s all coming together this season.”