DANNY Mullins, rider of Flooring Porter, is enjoying his best ever season.

His three Grade 1 winners at the Dublin Racing Festival in early February put him over the 50-winner mark for the campaign, and he can expect to pick up some top-class mounts at Cheltenham.

The 30-year-old has had just two previous Festival winners, both of which have come on Flooring Porter in the Grade 1 Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle for the past two years. At time of writing, that Gavin Cromwell-trained star was rated ‘50-50’ to make the line-up at Cheltenham this year, following a minor setback.

Danny Mullins’ three Dublin Racing Festival winners were all trained by the jockey’s uncle Willie Mullins. The champion trainer likes to leave a final decision on his Cheltenam running plans until the last possible moment, meaning Danny won’t know which horses, if any, he will be asked to ride at the Festival for the yard.

“Cheltenham has been great for me for the last couple of years - it’s down to partnering good horses which makes things easy for me,” the jockey said.

“Flooring Porter is a very good horse. Things happened as I expected on the day when he won and you can’t do that without the horse.

“Fingers crossed, he’ll make it to Cheltenham. There is no better than Gavin Cromwell (trainer). When he has got the ammunition he is well able to hit the target. While I’m lucky to be part of Willie’s team, it’s fantastic to be riding winners for Gavin as well, as he is an up and coming trainer.

“The Stayers’ Hurdle looks a strong race. Home By The Lee has pitched himself in there and Teahupoo looks good on what he has achieved.

“Cheltenham is about taking each other on in proper championship races. I have to keep riding well to get the chance to ride there.

“It is the one week of the year when we in racing get the chance to hit the mainstream media. We get recognised outside of our sport and, while it is important to be riding well day in day out, Cheltenham is the place where it hits all of the headlines in all of the papers. I’ve been lucky enough to win there before and hopefully can win again.”

While Mullins does not know what he will ride at this stage for his uncle, one horse he is looking forward to is Princess Zoe who is trained by his father, Tony. The eight-year-old mare won the Group 1 Prix du Cadran on the flat in 2020 and made a successful hurdling debut when dead-heating at Punchestown on January 30th.

Mullins continued: “It was a good performance and more a case of ‘job done’ than being elated (referring to her hurdling debut). She was at the sales in December and didn’t start schooling until the new year. Coming from Tony’s, I think there is bags of improvement there, compared to a horse coming from a big team, like Willie’s.

“She is going to need to find improvement to be competitive at Cheltenham but she will learn plenty and got the job done when she won – she was good and tough to battle after hitting the last.

“You couldn’t say she will win the mares’ novices’ hurdle but she should be a competitor with the improvement you would expect. She is a strong stayer and not short of pace so two miles at Cheltenham (in the Jack de Bromhead Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle) should suit her.”

This article is taken from The Irish Field Cheltenham Magazine 2023, produced in partnership with Goffs.