Tag Archive for: David Mullins

Belfast Banter heading for America after online sale

Grade One-winning hurdler Belfast Banter is heading to America after being purchased for £130,000 via ThoroughBid’s online sales platform.

The six-year-old completed a Cheltenham-Aintree double in spring this year, taking the Grade Three County Hurdle at the Festival before landing the Grade One Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April.

This season the gelding fell when returning to action in a Listowel handicap before finishing third in Wincanton’s Elite Hurdle on what was his last run for trainer Peter Fahey.

Grand National-winning jockey David Mullins, who won the race aboard Rule The World in 2016, has ventured into bloodstock upon his retirement from the saddle and was the successful bidder after a two-hour online sale.

Mullins was acting on behalf of an American owner and the horse will now continue his career there.

“He’s been bought for a leading owner in American jumps racing,” he said.

“There’s a great programme out there for a horse like Belfast Banter and some nice purses to have a go at.

“I’d imagine he’ll be looking to run in all the major contests over there.

“He’s got plenty of speed, is a very slick jumper and is the sort of horse who should do well in those faster-finishing races on good ground.”

Mullins was the runner up in the 2018 American Grand National aboard Tornado Watch, an experience that provided him with valuable knowledge of the industry in the US.

“I was second in an American Grand National on a horse for Emmet (Mullins), Tornado Watch, in 2018 and I was introduced to some of the owners’ contacts who I was delighted to get involved with,” he said.

“I thought Belfast Banter would be an ideal type to go to America and it’s great that the owners wanted to get involved.

“You don’t get many opportunities to buy a six-year-old that’s won at the Cheltenham Festival and a Grade One at Aintree, it’s very rare – all those sorts of horses are owned by racing’s superpowers.

“Buying him was a no brainer to be honest and I think it’s a deal well done.”

Fergal O’Neill, Belfast Banter’s previous owner, said: “It’s grand that we got the sale complete, and I think £130,000 is a very decent price.”

Mullins backs nephew David for ‘right decision’ after shock retirement

Willie Mullins believes his nephew David could have become his stable jockey one day – but nevertheless supports his decision to retire from the saddle earlier this week.

Winner of the Grand National aboard the Mouse Morris-trained Rule The World aged just 19 in 2016, David Mullins also enjoyed several big-race victories for his uncle – most notably Grade Ones on Al Boum Photo, Bellshill, Faugheen and Kemboy in 2018.

The talented rider made the surprise announcement that he was calling time on his career on Wednesday, saying: “It just didn’t fit with what I wanted to do any more”.

Ireland’s perennial champion trainer has subsequently praised the 24-year-old’s ability in the saddle, but feels he has made the correct call if his heart is no longer in race-riding.

“I think it’s a good decision once he’d made up his mind. He obviously wasn’t enjoying the riding,” said the Closutton handler.

“David is instinctively a very good rider. He has a very good pair of hands and is able to get horses to jump and gain lengths.

“He would have been in a position to take over as first jockey here one day – but once it was in his mind that he didn’t want to do it any more, I think it’s the right decision, and I think he’s very happy now he’s made it.”

David and Willie Mullins combined to win the Punchestown Gold Cup with Bellshill
David and Willie Mullins combined to win the Punchestown Gold Cup with Bellshill (Niall Carson/PA)

Mullins senior revealed he was first notified of the rider’s decision after he finished third aboard Blackbow just last week.

He added: “It was a surprise in the moment. He just got down off the horse and said he was finished – that was the term he used.

“I initially thought he meant he was finished for the day, but then it dawned on me that he was retiring.”

Mullins endured his fair share of injuries during his short but successful riding career – and while the former jockey himself insisted they had no bearing on his decision to retire, Willie Mullins feels they must have taken a toll.

He said: “He had a horrific accident in Thurles (in October 2019), and I think he did well to come back from that.

“He had another bad fall afterwards – I know he said he couldn’t feel his legs after it. When something like that happens it makes you weigh up where you’re going in life.

“He’s fit a lot into his riding career and has a very good resume – he’s won more big races than a lot of guys have done.

“We wish him all the best.”

Aintree hero David Mullins announces retirement

Grand National-winning rider David Mullins has announced his retirement from the saddle at the age of 24.

Mullins secured Aintree glory when steering Rule The World to victory in 2016 and counts nine Grade Ones wins on his CV.

He claimed his first top-level success aboard Nichols Canyon in the 2015 Morgiana Hurdle and also triumphed on the likes of future dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo and Savills Chase hero Kemboy in 2018.

Nichols Canyon was a first Grade One winner for Mullins in 2015
Nichols Canyon was a first Grade One winner for Mullins in 2015 (PA)

Mullins, who rode primarily for his champion trainer uncle Willie and father Tom, was last in action when steering Blackbow to finish third at Naas on January 13 and bows out with 211 Irish winners to his name

He said: “It just didn’t fit with what I wanted to do any more, but racing is a tough game to get out of, and I’ve been trying for the last year to 18 months.

“Sales are 100 per cent something I’m looking at. I bought Court Maid for 1,800 euros and she’s won eight times now, including a 120,000 euros race last year.”

Mullins and Rule The World on their way to Grand National glory
Mullins and Rule The World on their way to Grand National glory (Mike Egerton/PA)

Mullins pointed to his Grand National victory as an obvious career highlight, but also took great pleasure in the wins of Bellshill and Faugheen for his uncle at the 2018 Punchestown Festival.

He said: “The Grand National was a highlight and it was certainly the biggest day of my career, but it was always nice to ride a winner for your mother as well.

“I suppose Bellshill and Faugheen at the Punchestown Festival in 2018 would stand out for me as well.

David Mullins (centre) kisses Faugheen after their Punchestown win
David Mullins (centre) kisses Faugheen after their Punchestown win (Brian Lawless/PA)

“That was special, to win two of the biggest races (the Punchestown Gold Cup and Champion Stayers Hurdle) for Willie when he was under pressure for the trainers’ title and for two of his biggest owners as well in Sir Graham Wylie and Rich and Susannah Ricci.

“They were two proper horses as well and I guess that should have kept me going as a jockey, but it didn’t.

“It was the easiest decision I’ve made (to retire), once I’d made it.”