Djakadam: runner-up in last two Gold CupsPICTURE: Alain Barr (racingpost.com/photos)
Mullins thinks Djakadam can end Gold Cup wait
DJAKADAM is "old enough, man enough and ready to run the race of his life." That is the bullish message from Willie Mullins, who thinks his Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup hoodoo could end this year, fittingly on St Patrick's Day.
Djakadam came up short in 2015 and 2016, but neither of his conquerors are around this time, and Mullins thinks his battle-hardened eight-year-old is better than ever and finally ready to reveal his true colours on the biggest stage of all.
Mullins, who has trained the runner-up in each of the last four Gold Cups - On His Own and Sir Des Champs preceded Djakadam - said: "Djakadam was too young two years ago when he was beaten by a very good horse [Coneygree]. Last season [when Don Cossack won] we did not have an ideal prep as he got a bad cut on his leg in the Cotswold Chase.
"This year everything's gone perfectly and I think he's ready to run the race of his life."
Mullins, speaking at a media event at his Closutton yard on Monday, continued: "I don't know how much he'd need to improve to win a Gold Cup or even if he'd need to improve. Would his last two runs in the Gold Cup do this year? I don't know.
'I think he's a better horse this year'
"I think he's a better horse this year, though, and I was very taken with his run in the Lexus Chase, when he finished third. On reflection I think we may have been better off using different tactics that day and maybe we'd have had a different result.
"Everything has gone right since and we felt skipping the Irish Gold Cup was the right thing to do as it was a week closer to Cheltenham than other years."
Mullins added: "The Gold Cup is more open this year. This season has been a funny year with injuries for a lot of people, and therefore a lot of races are a lot more open. Winning the Gold Cup would be one of my greatest ambitions."
Most bookmakers make Djakadam 5-1 third favourite behind Colin Tizzard's duo Cue Card and Native River, who are both around the 3-1 mark.