Cheltenham Festival News

Willie Mullins expresses Festival doubts for Emery despite Naas success

Sun 28 Feb 2021

Cilaos Emery is not certain to be part of Willie Mullins’ formidable squad for the Cheltenham Festival despite producing a dominant display in the first race at Naas on Sunday.

Fourth in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last March, Cilaos Emery had run just once since – filling the runner-up spot behind stablemate Bachasson in November’s Clonmel Oil Chase.

With champion jockey Paul Townend in the saddle, the nine-year-old was the 1-2 favourite to make a successful return in the Grade Three WhatOddsPaddy? Chase and could hardly have been more impressive.

Cilaos Emery set a sound pace from flag-fall, with Daly Tiger the only one of his three rivals able to keep tabs on him.

There was little to choose between the pair leaving the back straight, but the market leader readily asserted from the home turn and passed the post with 11 lengths in hand.

“The break did him no harm and he’s come back good and strong,” said Mullins. “He jumped great and I was really pleased with that. We’ll try to find another similar type of race for him.”

Cilaos Emery is entered in both the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, but Mullins added: “I don’t know if he’ll travel.

“There might be nice prizes on the home front. It’s good to get him back to winning ways. We did a lot of work on his jumping and I’m very pleased it has paid off.”

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