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PURPLE PATCH: After a slow start to the season, Willie Mullins’ horses have been in scintillating form in December and so his yard makes for a perfect subject for this week’s Purple Patch.

Having won the Irish trainers’ title for the last 13 years and with a plethora of top-class talent in his stable, many expected Willie Mullins to once again dominate.

However, the handler had started the current campaign in uncharacteristically slow fashion and there were plenty suggesting Gordon Elliott – the perennial bridesmaid in recent years – could finally be set to win his first championship.

Things were much better in November, with Mullins having 26 winners – more than the previous two months combined – and things have been even better since then.

Since the start of December, Mullins has sent out 118 runners and 33 of them have won at an impressive strike rate of 28%.

And it’s not like he’s been winning the so-called ‘lesser’ races either.

He’s won 10 Graded races, including a staggering seven Grade 1s, all bar one of which came over a dominant four-day period.

Those Grade 1 winners included Appreciate It in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle, while Monkfish enhanced his booming Cheltenham Festival claims with an impressive display in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase.

With the big spring festivals on the horizon, the Mullins express looks like showing no signs of slowing down.