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Willie Mullins eyeing ninth Champion Bumper win at Cheltenham

Willie Mullins strengthened his hopes of securing yet another Weatherbys Champion Bumper success at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival following impressive victories for Killultagh Vic and Westhorpe over the weekend.

Having stayed on strongly to score at Naas midway through January, Killultagh Vic returned to that track to crush last season's Cheltenham third Golantilla by a whopping 16 lengths, making all the running before drawing away in the latter stages.

Trainer's son Patrick Mullins has partnered Festival joint-favourites Black Hercules and Shaneshill to wins this term but insisted this victor had picked up as well as anything else he had ridden elsewhere.

"He's improving with every run and that was a terrific performance," beamed Willie Mullins. "After making the pace, which was fairly decent, he really quickened off it. He's clearly better than I thought he was. It looks like he's another one for the boat to England."

Golantilla won impressively at Cork last term before being placed behind Briar Hill when quietly fancied for Prestbury Park glory and connections have not given up hope of him challenging for honours at Cheltenham again despite this emphatic defeat.

Tony Martin's charge was having his first run for 11 months and jockey Robbie McNamara commented: "He travelled really well for a mile and six, but then he just needed the run on that testing ground. He'll improve a hell of a lot from that, though."

Meanwhile, the Mullins camp could also include Westhorpe after he made a successful racecourse debut at Fairyhouse on Saturday, with the five-year-old showing a nice turn of foot to get to the front before beating Joncol's half-brother Fine Article despite idling in the closing stages.

"The horse that won on Saturday at Fairyhouse will have to go to Cheltenham as well, so it looks like we have four at the moment," confirmed Mullins senior the following day.

Mullins is always the man to watch out for in the Champion Bumper and will be chasing a ninth victory in this contest following recent wins for Champagne Fever and Briar Hill.

Wither or Which (1996), Florida Pearl (1997), Alexander Banquet (1998), Joe Cullen (2000), Missed That (2005) and Cousin Vinny (2008) were other successful entries sent across the Irish sea by that handler. 


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Willie Mullins eyeing ninth Champion Bumper win at Cheltenham

Willie Mullins strengthened his hopes of securing yet another Weatherbys Champion Bumper success at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival following impressive victories for Killultagh Vic and Westhorpe over the weekend.

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