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"He goes there in very good nick" - Willie Mullins reveals Royal Ascot squad

jon-vine
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Last updated: 12 Jun 2024
jon-vine
Jon Vine 12 Jun 2024
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  • Key quotes from Willie Mullins ahead of Royal Ascot 2024
  • Vauban will represent Mullins in the Ascot Gold Cup
  • Absurde, Belloccio and My Lyra will also travel to Ascot
ascot willie mullins
Willie Mullins travels in the Royal procession on day one during Royal Ascot 2023 at Ascot. (Getty)

Champion Jumps Trainer, Willie Mullins has unveiled his small, select squad of runners for the upcoming Royal Ascot meeting.

Mullins enjoyed a record-breaking National Hunt campaign in 2023/24. Not only did the 67-year-old take the Irish Champion Trainer title for the 18th time in his career, but a series of successes at Cheltenham and Aintree helped Willie top the British Champion Trainer standings for the first time too.

No stranger to success on the flat, Willie Mullins has entered the winner's enclosure at Royal Ascot several times down the years too. His team for 2024 is captained by Vauban, who'll take his chance in the Royal Ascot Gold Cup, staged on day three of this famous meeting.

"For a stable like ours, which is predominantly jumps, it would be absolutely huge to win the Ascot Gold Cup." Mullins said to the press on Tuesday. 

"We have so many runners at Cheltenham that you don't get a minute to do anything, but Ascot is more relaxed for us as we only have an odd runner here and there. It's always a very enjoyable experience and a chance to have a proper catch-up with some of my owners."

"We came within a whisker of winning the Gold Cup a few years ago with Simenon and hopefully Vauban can give a good account of himself. I think he can." 

"I was delighted with his reappearance at York. He hadn't ran in a very long time, not since Melbourne, and I knew he would come on for it. That should leave him in a nice place for Ascot. I think he has come forward nicely since York and I don't mind what the weather does as he seems to go on any ground. He goes there in very good nick."

vauban ascot
Ryan Moore riding Vauban win The Copper Horse Handicap on day one during Royal Ascot 2023 at Ascot. (Getty)

Willie was under no illusions about the task Vauban will undertake, identifying current odds-on favourite Kyprios as the horse they will all have to beat in the Gold Cup.

"I think Aidan (O'Brien) will have something to say about that!" Mullins continued. "He looks like he might have a stranglehold on the race with Kyprios. No matter what way you look at it, he's going to be very hard to beat and he's the one we will all be afraid of."

Absurde cruised to victory in the Ebor Handicap at York last summer. Mullins' star was last seen scoring in the Country Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, and Willie confirmed that he would join Vauban in next week's Gold Cup.

"Absurde is rated too high for the handicaps on the opening day now, so he could well join Vauban in the Gold Cup. Either that or he will wait for the Queen Alexandra on the final day. He will gallop later in the week and we'll decide after that."

"I thought it was a great performance at Cheltenham and a tremendous ride from Paul (Townend) to come from where he did. We gave him a break after that and he's been in good form since he came back into training."

Vauban ran away with the Copper Horse Handicap 12 months ago. Belloccio is being aimed at that handicap this year, with Mullins also confirming that stablemates My Lyka, Ethical Diamond and Highwind will also be on handicap duty.

Mullins revealed, "Belloccio will go for the Copper Horse and William Buick will ride. He won nicely over hurdles at Punchestown and we've been very happy with him since. He has some nice back form and has been doing well. 

"My Lyka will go for the Ascot Stakes. He was just denied in a hurdle race the other day at Killarney and Ryan Moore will take the ride."

"Ethical Diamond will go for the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap over a mile and a half on Friday. He ran well on his return to the Flat at Leopardstown and we've been pleased with him since."

"Highwind might go for one of the handicaps if we can get him into one. With his rating, we might struggle to sneak in."

Vauban is currently a general 7/1 third favourite to win the Gold Cup, for which Kyprios is the 10/11 favourite. The full betting for the 2024 Ascot Gold Cup can be found here on our website...

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