Although he has been training since 1988, it’s only in recent years that Willie Mullins has left his mark on the national hunt scene. Not content with dominating the Irish Jumps, Mullins has really enhanced his reputation with a number of wins across England’s top events and looks set for a strong 2019, with ante-post odds available for Cheltenham Festival available here: https://www.betfair.com/exchange/plus/horse-racing
Perhaps Mullins’ biggest achievement to date is training eight winners at Cheltenham Festival in 2015, something which has been matched by Gordon Elliott (2018) but in no way takes the gloss off a magnificent milestone.
Here, we take a look back at Mullins’ winners from four years ago.
Douvan was the first winner of Mullins’ haul, landing the Supreme Novices Hurdle by four-and-a-half-lengths from Shaneshill with Sizing John taking third.
The 2/1 favourite broke clear at the last to take the honours and naturally, Mullins was delighted with the result: “I put the gun to his head too early. When he pricked his ears and jumped the last he had plenty left in the tank. It’s brilliant to be here.
“The ground is not quick, it’s dead, but you want it to be. This is a winter sport so you want to run on winter ground.”
Un De Sceaux was Mullins next winner, after claiming victory in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase. The seven-year-old went off as 4/6 favourite and didn’t disappoint, eventually winning by six lengths from God’s Own.
Faugheen made it a hat-trick of wins for Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh, after winning in the Stan James Champion Hurdle. The 4/5 favourite was rarely troubled after a powerful run, although it did require a late burst to see off Arctic Fire who was beaten by a length and a half.
Mullins was soon celebrating again when he completed a quartet of victories, this time Glens Melody tasting success in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle. It was the first time since Nicky Henderson in 2012 to have four winners in one afternoon, and Mullins was ecstatic with the achievement.
“It’s rare to have four runners on a day like this, let alone four winners – I keep saying to myself, ‘enjoy it while it lasts’. You couldn’t write a script like that, but I just knew that all the horses were doing everything right. We had no sickness, no virus, no bad weather – it was going scarily well, and I thought coming here it was either going to be a great success or a blow-out,” reports Racing Better.
Don Poli was Mullins single winner on the second day, after claiming victory in the RSA Chase. It was the Irishman’s fifth win in just nine races, and Poli had to hold off some stiff competition from Southfield Theatre and Wounded Warrior.
Another slow day for Mullins with just the one winner from the third day of the festival, this time in the shape of Vautor. The 6/4 favourite clinched victory in the JLT Novices Chase ahead of Apache Stronhold and Valseur Lido. It was almost a non-contest as Vatour romped home by 15 lengths, giving Mullins one of his best wins of the whole festival.
Wicklow Brave was Mullins record-equalling seventh winner at Cheltenham Festival, after romping home by eight lengths in the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle. The 25/1 shot was rarely troubled as he finished ahead of Sort It Out in second, and Quick Jack in third.
Mullins was soon celebrating again as he entered the record books after landing his eighth winner of the week. Killultagh Vic provided the victory in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, after seeing off Noble Endeavour and Roi Des Francs.
After the race, Mullins was understandably elated with his achievements: “It’s been fantastic.
“It’s so hard and competitive, but we’ve had such a fantastic spring. We’ve had no sickness with any of the horses and we’ve had a great preparation.”