Willie Mullins Profile
|Born||Sep 15, 1956|
|Birthplace||Goresbridge, County Kilkenny|
From a family steeped in racing, record-breaking trainer Willie Mullins continues to push back the boundaries.
It is hard to quantify the importance of the Mullins family to Irish National Hunt racing.
Like his father Paddy, trainer of the great mare Dawn Run, Willie Mullins has already stamped an indelible mark on the sport with a plethora of big race wins and an apparently endless conveyor belt of talent at his disposal.
This looks set to continue for as long as 'WP' wants it to, but of course he will be only too aware that it can take just one incident, one phone call, to pull that rug from under your feet.
Such is racing, and the man himself clearly chooses to keep working hard and pushing back the boundaries so that such a day never comes. He is making a great job of it.
Roots of success
The roots of his successful training career go back at least a generation, but what he learned from his father and from his time with the legendary Jim Bolger has clearly been brought to bear on his training operation.
His is a family steeped in racing. Brother Tony was a successful jockey who partnered Dawn Run in her formative years, prior to Jonjo O'Neill getting that coveted mount and doing the Champion Hurdle-Gold Cup 'double' on her (she's still the only horse to have done it).
Another of his brothers, Thomas, has enjoyed a successful time both as a jockey and trainer, while wife Jackie was another winner in the plate, as now is son Patrick.
After a noteworthy riding career of his own - he was the six-times champion amateur in Ireland and won both the Aintree Foxhunters' Chase on Atha Cliath in 1983 and the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham on Wither Or Which in 1996 - Mullins took out a training licence in 1988.
The big time and Florida Pearl
Progress was steady, he was building the powerhouse that he now has, but nothing could stop him.
His first major star over jumps was the brilliant Florida Pearl, who won 14 of his 31 starts, nine of those wins coming against Grade 1 opposition, including four Irish Gold Cups, an RSA Chase and a King George VI Chase.
He also finished third in the 1999 Cheltenham Gold Cup and went one place better a year later, but over that trip, the hill proved just a few strides too far.
Cheltenham Festival record breaker
Since then it has been a procession of big race winners sent out by Mullins and his team, which is based at Closutton, in County Carlow.
By the end of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, the trainer had 78 winners to his name, a record which he looks sure to keep on increasing in the coming seasons.
The Gold Cup itself had famously eluded him despite several talented and fancied runners over the years. However, typical of the man, after so many years of frustration, he went on to prepare Al Boum Photo to win back-to-back renewals in 2019 and 2020.
His Champion Hurdle count is four, two of those going to the brilliant Hurricane Fly, one to the magnificent but injury-prone Faugheen, the other to the outstanding mare Annie Power.
Other wonderful performers such as Douvan, Vautour, Quevega, Monkfish, Min and Allaho are just a few of the names on his Cheltenham winners roster.
Grand National glory
Lest we forget, he readied Hedgehunter to win the 2005 Grand National, in the colours of the late Trevor Hemmings, and he has ticked off all the major races over jumps in Ireland.
So many of those were ridden by that great jockey and outstanding big-race pilot Ruby Walsh, who remains part of the team at Closutton now that his professional riding days are behind him.
And if pushing back the boundaries of what is possible in the 'winter game' was not enough, then Mullins has also successfully dipped his toe into the world of Flat racing.
Notable successes have come at Royal Ascot, in several renewals of Newmarket's Cesarewitch and in the Irish St Leger.
If he ever decided that the other code was the one he'd like to prioritise, then he'd be sure to make an even bigger splash.
For now though, there look likely to be many more great National Hunt stories to be told with Willie Mullins at their heart.
Willie Mullins' best horses
Florida Pearl (foaled 1992 - retired 2004)
Most famous wins: Irish Gold Cup (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004), Champion Bumper (1997), Dr P. J. Moriarty Memorial Novice Chase (1998), Royal & SunAlliance Chase (1998), James Nicholson Wine Merchant Champion Chase (1999), John Durkan Memorial Chase (2001), King George VI Chase (2001), Betfair Bowl (2002), Punchestown Gold Cup (2002), Normans Grove Chase (2004)
Hurricane Fly (foaled 2004 - retired 2015)
Most famous wins: Prix de Longchamp Hurdle (2008), Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (2008), Future Champions Novice Hurdle (2008), Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle (2009), Punchestown Champion Hurdle (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), Hatton's Grace Hurdle (2010), December Festival Hurdle (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014), Irish Champion Hurdle (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), Champion Hurdle (2011, 2013), Morgiana Hurdle (2012, 2013, 2014)
Annie Power (foaled 2008 - retired 2017)
Most famous wins: Johnstown Novice Hurdle (2013), Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final (2013), Ascot Hurdle (2013), Doncaster Mares' Hurdle (2014), Mares Champion Hurdle (2014, 2015), Champion Hurdle (2016), Aintree Hurdle (2016)
Al Boum Photo (foaled 2012)
Most famous wins: Festival Novice Hurdle (2017), Ryanair Gold Cup (2018), Savills New Year's Day Chase (2019, 2020, 2021), Cheltenham Gold Cup (2019, 2020)
Willie Mullins personal life
Willie's wife, Jackie, was a successful amateur rider, the couple have a son, Patrick, who is the most successful amateur of all-time and an assistant trainer.
Willie's brothers Tom and Tony were also jockeys and trainers. Tony's son Danny Mullins is also a professional jockey, while Tom's son David, who won the Grand National on Rule The World, retired from the saddle at the age of just 24.
Willie Mullins News
- Jan 31, 2023
- Jan 29, 2023