Willie Mullins’ name is already written firmly into Irish racing folklore, and he could be adding another significant racing feat to his roll of honour in the next few weeks.
The Melbourne Cup is one of the biggest horse races in the world, boasting an eye-catching prize pot of eight million Australian dollars, which converts to nearly €5 million. And Mullins, who already has a record-breaking 94 Cheltenham Festival winners to his name, evidently fancies taking on the best Australia has to offer, with the latest Melbourne Cup declarations including both Vauban and Absurde.
Vauban is best known for his exploits over the jumps, having won the Triumph Hurdle at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, before going on to win at the Punchestown Festival a month later. His 2023 jumps season didn’t quite reach the same heights, falling just short in both the English and Irish versions of the Champion Hurdle, prompting Mullins to switch Vauban back to flat racing where he started his career.
Like much that Mullins tries, the switch proved successful, as Vauban and Absurde both secured their places in the Melbourne Cup with a 1-2 in the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot.
Both Melbourne Cup contenders have already made their way down under, and the Mullins camp are happy with how they’ve settled in.
Mullins’ assistant David Casey said of Vauban, “He travelled well, it seems he’s eating and drinking since he came and arrived. He didn’t lose a lot of weight and he’s put it all actually back on since he came. Delighted with him. It was great that he won at Ascot and backed it up when he won in Naas – we’re here and we’re delighted to be taking part and obviously hopefully with a horse that can be competitive.”
Bookmakers certainly agree with Casey’s assertion that Vauban can be competitive, with betting site melbourne-cup.online noting he is the clear ante-post favourite at 7/2, with Absurde also well in contention at 16/1.
The race will take place at 4am CET time on Tuesday 7th November, with plenty of Irish racing fans hoping they’ll be waking up to news of another big 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