Willie Mullins is eyeing yet another Cheltenham Festival win in the Gold Cup after creating history on Wednesday.

Mullins is the trainer of favourite and last year's Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs, who has conditions in his favour to mount a successful title defence. 67 year old Mullins claimed his 100th Cheltenham Festival victory earlier this week as his son Patrick won the Champion Bumper on Jasmin De Vaux.

Rivals for the Gold Cup include Fastorslow, Gerri Colombe, last year's runner-up Bravemansgame and Grand National winner Corach Rambler. There are several other races on Friday, however.

Here's Newsboy's 1-2-3 for each race, from the Mirror.


NURBURGRING, a strong-galloping, progressive juvenile hurdler, gets the vote to salute the chequered flag.

Also trained on the Flat by Joseph O'Brien - he won one of his six starts and currently has a rating of 91 - my selection began his career over obstacles with a win at Killarney in August.

Nurburgring passed the post in front of Wodhooh at Listowel the following month - he was then demoted to second for interference - but showed the benefit of a gelding operation to beat Kala Conti by half a length in a Grade 3 event at Fairyhouse at the start of December.

The runner-up got his revenge on 7lb better terms in a Grade 2 contest at Leopardstown over Christmas, scoring by three-quarters of a length from Kargese, with Nurburgring a nose back in third.

JJ Slevin's mount was doing his best work at the finish, however, and with the New Course placing an emphasis on staying power, Nurburgring should show to good effect here.

Kargese led home Willie Mullins stablemates Storm Heart (second), Majborough (third), Bunting (fourth) and Ethical Diamond (sixth) at Leopardstown, and the front four are hard to split, with Salver best of the home defence.


BIALYSTOCK is primed for compensation after being the innocent victim in a shemozzle at Leopardstown last time out.

A three-time winner on the Flat in France for Jean-Claude Rouget, Zoffany's son started out for Willie Mullins in January of last year, ending his first campaign over hurdles with victories at Naas and Punchestown.

Bialystock has been out of luck in five attempts this season, and fortune unquestionably deserted my selection in Foxrock last month.

Sent off at 13-2 for the two-mile handicap hurdle won by the same connections' Gaelic Warrior 12 months earlier, Bialystock was four lengths off the leaders when Ataboycharlie fell at the second-last flight and brought him down.

Danny Mullins' mount, Bialystock, is worth backing from an unchanged handicap mark, even though his finishing position had he stood up is purely speculative as he hadn't yet been asked a question.

Last year's County Hurdle winners, Dan and Harry Skelton, also have claims with L'Eau Du Sud, while Magical Zoe and So Scottish are others to consider.


READIN TOMMY WRONG, who has made great strides in just two starts over hurdles, should thrive when he tackles three miles for the first time.

He was recruited from the point-to-point field - finishing second at Bellharbour in Co Clare in February 2022 - and won bumpers for Willie Mullins at Ballinrobe and Tipperary in May of last year under the name borrowed from the Kenny Rogers classic Coward Of The Country.

In November, Readin Tommy Wrong was the 8-15 favourite for a two-mile maiden hurdle at Cork and just netted for his backers by beating stablemate Lisnagar Fortune by a short head.

He was a 16-1 shot upped to the top level for the Lawlor's Of Naas Novice Hurdle in Co Kildare in January, but caused an upset with a neck margin over fellow Closutton competitor Ile Atlantique. Both his style of running and pedigree suggest three miles will trigger another personal best.

Captain Teague, who bravely won the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury, is a horse to watch out for. He's joined by Gidleigh Park and Readin Tommy Wrong's stable-mates High Class Hero and Lecky Watson.

At 3.30, NEWSBOY'S top three picks are: 1 GALOPIN DES CHAMPS, 2 FASTORSLOW, 3 NASSALAM.

GALOPIN DES CHAMPS has everything going his way to successfully defend his title.

Willie Mullins' horse continues his competition with Martin Brassil-trained Fastorslow - they're currently tied at 2-2 - and today's ground conditions will be crucial in deciding the winner.

Fastorslow would have benefited from quicker ground, especially after his impressive second place to Corach Rambler in the Ultima Handicap Chase last year. But the soft ground on Gold Cup day is good news for those backing Galopin Des Champs to retain his title.

Last year, Paul Townend's horse stormed up the hill to beat Bravemansgame by seven lengths in the prestigious Blue Riband steeplechase. Galopin Des Champs, who beat Fastorslow in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown in December 2022, was defeated in the Punchestown Gold Cup last April.

Fastorslow also came out on top in this season's John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, where Galopin Des Champs finished third after a less than perfect display of jumping.

The current champion showed his strength by beating Gerri Colombe by 23 lengths in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, and then won against Fastorslow by four and a half lengths in the Irish Gold Cup in South Dublin last time.

It's true that Townend was able to control the race that day and Fastorslow is expected to be in better shape here, and close the gap - but not completely eliminate it.

Jungle Boogie has a lot to prove based on his past performance, Monkfish hasn't jumped fences for nearly three years, and The Real Whacker has had a tough time this season.

The rain will help L'Homme Presse but it's not good news for Hewick, while Gentlemansgame is very talented but lacks experience. The possibility of a stamina test brings Nassalam into consideration, and Gary Moore's Welsh Grand National hero is a good choice for those wanting to bet at bigger odds.


FERNS LOCK has a great chance of giving trainer David Christie his first Cheltenham win.

Christie, who is based in Co Fermanagh, is successful in the point-to-point and hunter chase world but has yet to win at the home of jump racing - until now.

Ferns Lock, a three-time pointing winner, started his career in hunter chases with wins at Fairyhouse, Gowran Park and Thurles before making a costly mistake two out back in Co Meath saw him lose his unbeaten record with a third to Willie Mullins' Annamix.

After a comeback score in a Dromahane point-to-point was followed by a close second to Its On The Line in a Down Royal hunter chase, Ferns Lock breezed through a similar event at Thurles in January to prepare for today.

This seven year old has a lot more to offer and can get his revenge on the 2023 runner-up when it counts. Premier Magic and Billaway, the last two winners of the amateurs' Gold Cup, are worth another look, along with Sine Nomine.


LIMERICK LACE is doing better in her second season over fences - and could have this race in the bag. There was lots of promise in the daughter of Walk In The Park's novice campaign, which included wins at Down Royal and Naas at the start of last year.

And Gavin Cromwell's seven year old has built on that, starting with a 16-length win in a mares' chase at Clonmel in October.

Based on that performance, punters made Limerick Lace the 4-1 favourite for the tough Troytown Handicap Chase over three miles at Navan in November and my pick did well with a second to Coko Beach.

Limerick Lace, ridden by Keith Donoghue, is back in action today after a 10-length victory over La Renommee at Doncaster just before the New Year. She's up against Willie Mullins' Dinoblue and Allegorie De Vassy, as well as the improving Brides Hill.

At 5.30, Newsboy predicts: 1 Sonigino, 2 Quai de Bourbon, 3 What's Up Darling.

Sonigino could be a good each-way bet in the final race of the day. To win, the seven year old, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by rising star Freddie Gingell, will need to improve on his ninth place finish in Kempton Park's Lanzarote Hurdle in mid-January.

But there are reasons to believe he can do it.

He was unlucky not to finish higher than third at Aintree's Grand National in April, and followed that with a third-place finish at Chepstow in October. He then came fourth to Iberico Lord in the two-mile Greatwood Handicap Hurdle here the next month.

Sonigino built on that for a six-length win from Prince Zaltar at Aintree in November. If you can overlook his poor showing at Kempton, he could be a contender here.

After a big week for Willie Mullins, Quai De Bourbon is expected to have lots of fans. What's Up Darling, Waterford Whispers and Answer To Kayf are three more names to consider.