Mullins raises the mark with cruise for Cooldine

Willie Mullins has made no secret of the fact that he regards the novices he has under his care this season as the best batch of young recruits ever to walk through the gates of his Closutton yard. And from the class of '09, he now has not just one, but two who are being touted as future Gold Cup winners. The pair stood in the winner's circle here yesterday 40 minutes apart, first the hurdler Mikael D'Haguenet, then the chaser Cooldine.

And such richness of talent is not causing Mullins the slightest embarrassment. "It's what we try to do, upgrade each season, like any business does," he said. "We're not necessarily paying any more money to buy the raw material. Maybe, at last, we're just getting better at identifying it."

Such self-deprecation plays down the Co Carlow man's expertise, but he is as aware as anyone of both the elephant traps that wait for anyone involved with horses and also the constant opportunity to gain insight and experience.

Cooldine, the third leg of Ruby Walsh's unprecedented Festival four-timer (he won Tuesday's finale on Quevega and had to sit-out yesterday's opener for amateur riders before taking the next three races), is now as short as 10-1 to win the Gold Cup next year after ruthlessly outclassing the opposition in the RSA Chase. But those who plunged in at the 14-1 offered as he pulled up for a race more than a year away should perhaps consider how fine is the fitness line that equine athletes tread.

Just an hour and a half before yesterday's fray, Cooldine was lame, standing on three legs in his stable. The problem was that a nail in a recently applied racing shoe was pressing against the quick of his foot; anyone who has suffered a torn fingernail knows how sore that can be.

Happily, it was quickly resolved by the racecourse farrier, Richard Stafford, with some technical skill and a little imagination. "He took the shoe off, but he couldn't put nails back in," explained Mullins, "so he glued it on and put Polyfilla in the nail-holes, and we put the foot on ice for an hour. And I owe that man a drink."

Out on the track, there was barely a single sticky moment for the 9-4 favourite. With Carruthers blazing a bold trail, Walsh was able to settle and pick his moment at his leisure. It came soon after the second-last fence; from there the only question was how far? The answer was 16 lengths. "He has the heart of a lion," said the rider, "and jumped like a stag."

Six winners of the three- miler have followed up in the Gold Cup, most recently Denman. Mullins has won it once before, 11 years ago with Florida Pearl, carrying the same red and white colours, of Archie and Violet O'Leary, as Cooldine.

Florida Pearl never did win a Gold Cup – the nearest he came was his second to Looks Like Trouble – but he was better than many who did. Comparisons may be odious, but making them is part of the fun of the game and Mullins is in no doubt about the relative status of yesterday's winner and the horse who still occupies the prime position in his affections. "This one jumps," he said, "and he stays really well. But he wouldn't be in the same class as Florida Pearl."

Mikael D'Haguenet was offered at 8-1 to win a Gold Cup – any Gold Cup, year unspecified – after putting a collection of unbeaten records to the sword in the Ballymore Properties Hurdle. And Mullins saw a rare quality in the 5-2 favourite, on whose behalf he had been fretting slightly about the quickening underfoot conditions.

"All winter, he's shown us a high, round action, the sort that is ideally suited by soft ground," he said. "I could hardly believe it when I saw him going to the start and jumping so sharp over the first two hurdles. He'd adjusted his action to long and low, like a typical good-ground horse. I've never seen one do that before."

The tall, angular French-bred showed another rare quality at the sharp end of the contest, the lightning change of gear that marks a top-class performer and to which runner-up Karabak, gallantly though he tried up the hill had no answer. "He was travelling in my hands all the way," said Walsh, "almost too well, if that's possible. When the gap came for me two out, he shot through it and put the race to bed in three strides. The horse that can do that is the sort I like."

With Tom Taaffe taking the Coral Cup with 14-1 shot Ninetieth Minute and Philip Fenton adding the closing bumper with Dunguib, the Irish raiders had doubled their score to eight victories from the 13 races and are more than on course to top their record of 10 at the second four-day Festival, in 2006. The Celtic tiger may have stopped roaring back home, but it is purring along quite nicely here, thank you.

Sue Montgomery: Cheltenham Tips

1.30 Pancake (nb)

2.05 BALLYDUB (nap)

2.40 Voy Por Ustedes

3.20 Kasbah Bliss

4.00 Three Mirrors

4.40 Go For One

News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

RE Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Teacher of Religious Education ...

A Level Chemistry Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: A Level Chemistry Teacher - Humb...

NQT Secondary Teachers

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is actively r...

ICT Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: ICT Teacher - Scunthorpe This r...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence