Willie Mullins, already a legendary figure in the world of horse racing, is poised to travel all the way to Australia in his bid to secure another notable achievement.
Mullins is best known for his achievements over jumps, having already celebrated a record-breaking tally of 94 Cheltenham Festival victories, but he is now set to pit his stable against the best flat racing horses that Australia has to offer.
This week saw the latest declaration stage for the prestigious event and it included two Mullins horses in Vauban and Absurde.
Like Mullins, Vauban’s best results to date have come in the jumps arena, earning his stripes by winning the 2022 Cheltenham Festival’s Triumph Hurdle, followed by another victory at the Punchestown Festival just a month later. However, his 2023 jumps season didn’t quite reach the same heights, missing out in both the English and Irish versions of the Champion Hurdle. This prompted Mullins to make a strategic shift, returning Vauban to flat racing, where he had launched his career.
True to Mullins’ knack for astute decisions, the transition proved successful. Vauban and Absurde clinched their coveted spots in the Melbourne Cup with a remarkable 1-2 finish in the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot. Both contenders have since made their journey Down Under, and Team Mullins is pleased with their seamless acclimatisation.
Mullins himself has explained his thinking behind targeting the Melbourne Cup, and he didn’t shy away from accepting that financial factors influenced his decision, saying “The type of yard we have, it’s very doubtful we’ll ever have a Breeders Cup horse or something like that. So, as flat racing goes, this is probably as high as we’d go, that or maybe a Gold Cup horse in Ascot or the Prix du Cadran in Paris. The nature of this race [Melbourne Cup] helps us – and there’s the small matter of eight million Australian dollars too!”
Bookmakers agree with Mullins’ optimism, with leading betting site Melbourne-Cup.online confirming Vauban has been installed as the clear ante-post favourite at odds of 7/2, while Absurde is also well in contention at 16/1.
The Melbourne Cup drama will unfold at 4 a.m. CET time on Tuesday, November 7th, so don’t be surprised to wake up to the news of another triumphant night for Mullins and Vauban.
Selected Melbourne Cup odds* according to Melbourne-cup. online:
Vauban – 7/2
Soulcombe – 8/1
Just Fine – 14/1
Francesco Guardi – 14/1
Absurde – 16/1
Breakup – 16/1
Without a Fight – 20/1
Gold Trip – 25/1
*Odds correct at 3pm on 6th October 2023