The one thing that Willie Mullins is yet to win as a trainer is the Cheltenham Gold Cup and he believes he has a real chance of breaking that duck this time around.
Djakadam has failed to land the blue riband event in 2015 and 2016, but now eight-years-old – Mullins feels he is in great shape ahead of the big race at Prestbury Park next month.
“He is in great form. He has not had any setback this year. Last year he got a cut in Cheltenham and we had just enough time [to get him there] whereas this year we have had a clearer, better run to the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. Hopefully that’s for luck,” said Mullins.
“I think Djakadam is a more mature horse. He is coming to the age when chasers can win a Gold Cup. The first year, he was young, the second year, he had a bad prep, this year everything is going right.
“It is one of my big ambitions [winning the Gold Cup]. It would be nice to do it. We are hopeful.”
“Would he need to improve to win? Would his last two Gold Cup performances be good enough? I don’t know. I think he is a better horse this year. I was taken with his run at Christmas. We did what we did on the day, but reflecting afterwards we thought different tactics might have produced a different result.
“It is one of my big ambitions [winning the Gold Cup]. It would be nice to do it. We are hopeful. Perhaps we need the ball bouncing a bit more in our favour and it could happen.”
We spoke with BoyleSports about the market on the Gold Cup, but particularly Djakadam and their spokesman Leon Blanche is a big fan of the horse.
“We always been a fan, and he has just turned 8. His record when he is fresh is excellent and you can hear that Willie is happier this year, and he is going to go to Cheltenham fully fit,” said Blanche.
“He is a very able jumper, he stays the trip and he likes Cheltenham – he is a serious contender.”