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Published: 12:27 | 25/2/16

Mullins happy with Gold Cup trio

Willie Mullins is pleased with how his Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders are shaping up ahead of the National Hunt Festival.

Mullins has never won the blue riband but he has a strong hand this year with Vautour, Djakadam and Don Poli all on course to take their chance in the March 18 feature.

Djakadam has had the Gold Cup as his main target since he finished second to Coneygree 12 months ago and he proved his potential once more when he ran out a comfortable winner of the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown in December.

A cut suffered when he fell in the Cotswold Chase last month delayed his preparations slightly, but he is on course to have another crack at the Gold Cup and Mullins is hopeful his jumping stands up on the day.

"We have a little bit of catching up to do with Djakadam, but everything we've asked him to do since his setback has been good," Mullins explained.

"He worked fairly hard on Saturday and he's come out of that well. He has a few more bits to do because he's a big lazy horse and you really have to ask him and get him to work. He doesn't do it himself.

"He came out of it well, he ate up the other evening, very pleased with that and he's doing all the right things. He's usually a good jumper. He'll pop a few fences. We'll probably bring him to Leopardstown and let him go round there.

"It's all about what they do on the day. Basically he's a good jumper, so hopefully it will just come right on the day."

Stable companion Vautour has not run since he was narrowly beaten by Cue Card in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.

His stamina has been called into question but Mullins is happy to let him line-up in the Gold Cup

"Last year we just got him ready at home and just threw the kitchen sink at him. We'll do the same again this year and hopefully he'll come right," Mullins said.

"We'll just get them fit and the ones that stay, stay and the ones that don't, don't. Tactically you might change a few things with the likes of him, but some horses are keen and you should just let them get on with things."

Mullins is also planning to run Don Poli in the Gold Cup with the seven-year-old heading straight to Cheltenham on the back of his win in the Lexus Chase.

The County Carlow handler has no doubts about his ability to handle the extra distance and has backed him to stay up the famous Cheltenham hill.

"We were happy we didn't need to run him again and we'll just get him ready to have him going there a bit fresher," he told At The Races.

"He was always going to improve. The extra couple of furlongs will suit him. Just the way he comes up that hill, he's an out and out stayer and gallops.

"We don't know how much he will produce when he's right on the day because he just passes the ones that are in front of him and just stops.

"The further they go the better he will be."

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