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Trainer Profile : Willie Mullins

willie-mullins-trainerTrainer Profile: Willie Mullins

Based: County Carlow, Ireland

Stable jockey: Ruby Walsh

Best horse ever trained: Hurricane Fly

Number of Cheltenham Festival winners: 29

One word to describe him: Genius

Heralded as one of the greatest trainers ever to have emerged from the Emerald Isle, Mullins is a man to be respected by all at the Cheltenham Festival.

The firepower he possesses within his squad of horses is pretty frightening and he isn’t afraid to unleash his top stars at the festival. Every one of his runners always require a second look from punters studying the form book.

How did he fare at the 2013 festival?

Five winners sent Mullins to his second Thomas Pink award for finishing the top trainer at the Cheltenham Festival.

Following on from his success in 2011, Mullins, who is the only Irish trainer to take the title since Edward O’Grady shared the award in 1996, had the trainer title sewn up by the end of the second day after saddling five winners in the first 14 races.

Three of those came on an unforgettable Tuesday, where Champagne Fever, Hurricane Fly and Quevega landed a mesmerising treble for the Irish training wizard.

Further wins were supplied by Back In Focus in the National Hunt Chase and Briar Hill in the Champion Bumper as Mullins stole an early march on his training rivals that was impossible to peg back.

Memorable Cheltenham Festival winner?

Hurricane Fly – 2013 Champion Hurdle

Cheltenham was set alight by Mullins’ superstar hurdler who became the first horse since Comedy Of Errors in 1973 to regain a Champion Hurdle crown and enter legendary status at the home of jump racing.

Winner of the race in 2011 but beaten into third when an odds-on favourite 12 months previous, the knives were out about the horse’s ability to transfer his sensational record in Ireland over to Cheltenham.

However, his army of followers ploughed into him on the day and the 13/8 hot favourite duly delivered a famous victory by powering up the hill to victory.

In the aftermath, Mullins called him a “one in a million” horse and no doubt if the horse could talk he would repay the same compliment about the trainer, who managed to keep a fragile horse fit for the entire season in order to reach the top of the hurdling tree once again.

What races at the festival does he have a fruitful record in?

Although consistently performing across all the Grade One’s at the festival, Mullins’ record in the Champion Bumper is extraordinary. In the last 21 renewals, Mullins has won eight of them, proving his supreme talent at developing young horses to be ready for the big day.

Boston Bob would have strengthened Mullins’ record in the RSA Chase in 2013 if not taking a crashing fall at the last fence. Not only has he won this event with Florida Pearl, Rule Supreme and Cooldine, the Irish master has trained three more horses to place in the last 10 years.

Best ante-post bet for 2014 festival?

Obviously any novice hurdler to emerge from the plethora of talent available to Mullins will have to be respected across all novice divisions whether it would be the Supreme Novices Hurdle or the Albert Bartlett. But at the time of writing (November) it’s hard to pin-point where Mullins’ strength lie within his squad.

One horse who we do know all about is his Cheltenham Gold Cup Boston Bob, who is ridiculously overpriced at 25/1. He’s always been held in the highest regard by his connections and with another injury-free summer behind him, he should have improved from his top-class efforts from last season.

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