Mullins casts doubt over Cilaos Emery’s Festival chances

Willie Mullins has hinted that Cilaos Emery may skip the Cheltenham Festival despite a comfortable win at Naas on Sunday.

The nine-year-old returned for the first time in 108 days and looked back to his best as he beat Daly Tiger, Kildorrery and Cafe Con Leche to win the WhatOddsPaddy? Chase.

Cilaos Emery has only raced twice since finishing fourth in the Champion Hurdle at Prestbury Park last March.

He finished second behind stablemate Bachasson in November’s Clonmel Oil Chase, but Mullins’ charge made no mistake this time around.

Cilaos Emery set the tempo at Naas, and Daly Tiger was the only runner who could keep pace, before eventually fading away in the home straight.

With the Festival now less than a month away, he had been expected to be part of Mullins’ travelling party, but the Closutton-maestro suggested in his post-race interview that his stable star could stay at home for a domestic campaign.

Mullins told reporters: “The break did him no harm, and he’s come back good and strong. He jumped great, and I was really pleased with that.

“We’ll try to find another similar type of race for him. 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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