Tag Archive for: Patrick Mullins

Mullins out of luck as Sacamiro lands Velka Pardubicka

Sacamiro was given a patient ride by Jan Faltejsek to win an eventful 133rd Velka Pardubicka.

Patrick Mullins had gone over to ride last year’s winner Mr Spex – but he was an early casualty at the famous Taxis fence, while Peter Maher’s two runners, Jet Fighter and Alpha Male, ridden by Sean O’Keeffe and Petr Tuma respectively, were both out of luck.

Mullins, who also fell on each of his two previous attempts in the race, said of his latest departure: “The horse in front came right across and took two of us out and refused. There was nowhere to go.”

James Best, riding Lombargini for Stanislav Popelka Jr, had a great thrill by finishing fourth.

Patrick Mullins (pink) was one of several casualties at the Taxi fence
Patrick Mullins (pink) was one of several casualties at the Taxi fence (PA)

Faltejsek, who had a spell riding in the UK and is best remembered for his association with George Charlton’s smart hurdler Knockara Beau, was winning the famous race for a sixth time.

The 10-year-old was kept away from the heat of the battle through much of the gruelling four-and-a-quarter miles but could be spotted travelling ominously well with half a mile to run.

By then Kaiserwalzer, who had cut out much of the running, was beginning to back peddle and it was Star and Talent who looked the main dangers.

Sacamiro had plenty up his sleeve, however, and sprinted clear after the final obstacle to win going away.

Mullins out to master Velka Pardubicka challenge

Patrick Mullins will be bidding to make it third time lucky in the Velka Pardubicka when he gets the leg up aboard defending champion Mr Spex at Pardubice on Sunday.

The decorated amateur rider is yet to complete in the challenging four-and-a-quarter-mile cross-country contest, having fallen from Kaiserwalzer in his two previous attempts in the famous Czech contest.

However, he has a Pardubice specialist on his side this time around, with Lubos Urbanek’s nine-year-old not only the winner last year, but also third in 2021.

“It’s a hugely exciting day and it’s an honour to be asked to go and ride last year’s winner,” said Mullins. “It’s a fantastic opportunity and I can’t wait.

“This is my third time going over and I’ve had a few seconds and thirds in some of the other races but no joy in the Velka yet.

“Mr Spex won last year and was third the year before, so he would have to have a huge chance and I’m hoping for third time lucky. He has a fabulous record around the track and a clear round would be a great start, but I’m hoping we will be bang there at the finish as well.”

Charlie Mann was the last British rider to triumph in the Velka Pardubicka when partnering It’s A Snip in 1995, but no Irish jockey has ever won the unique contest, which Mullins has many fond memories of from down the years.

He added: “I remember Richard Dunwoody going over one year to ride Risk Of Thunder and Ruby (Walsh) went over one year and broke his leg in a race before the Velka.

“When you watch the videos of it, it is proper National Hunt racing. To be a part of it and compete in it is a privilege.”

Despite failing to complete in his two previous spins aboard Kaiserwalzer, the County Carlow native believes the Pardubice cross-country circuit compares favourably with both the Cheltenham and Punchestown equivalents.

And although having to encounter the famous Taxis and it’s formidable five-metre ditch, he embraces the different proposition the Czech track presents.

“They are slightly different but at the end of the day they are just jumps,” he added. “The horses have run over them before so you are trying not to interfere with them too much.

Patrick Mullins is relishing another crack at Pardubice's unique cross-country circuit
Patrick Mullins is relishing another crack at Pardubice’s unique cross-country circuit (David Davies/PA)

“The Taxis is very wide but the rest of them would be very similar to the Punchestown and Cheltenham cross-country tracks.

“The water jumps are slightly different, they are flat water jumps. They are wider and there is no upright in front of them. They are probably the most different jumps, but at the end of the day they are just jumps.

“I like the variety, I think it makes it exciting and interesting and it is a very special race.”

Back on home soil, the record-breaking amateur has made a stellar start to the 2023-24 campaign, bringing up his 800th career winner at Listowel last month, and currently leads the Irish jump jockeys’ championship.

Patrick Mullins and his father Willie Mullins have plenty to look forward to
Patrick Mullins and his father Willie Mullins have plenty to look forward to (Niall Carson/PA)

Mullins now anticipates a slight easing in the numbers ahead of some of the stable’s main hopes striding out onto the track in the coming months and believes there is plenty of ammunition in Closutton to look forward to.

“We’ve had a superb start and the bumper horses have been running out of their skin,” he said.

“We will probably have a little bit of a lull now, with our summer team coming to an end and our winter team about to begin, but it looks like we have plenty of soldiers to go to war with in the winter and I’m looking forward to turning the screw with them over the next six weeks or so.

“We’re kind of the end of November before ours start coming out, so we’re a bit away yet.”

Luckinthecity gives Patrick Mullins his 800th career winner

Patrick Mullins reached another landmark in riding his 800th winner courtesy of Luckinthecity at Listowel on Monday evening.

Partnering the 6-5 favourite for his father, Willie, he came with a wet sail to land the Eric Browne Memorial INH Flat Race going away in the end, by a length and quarter from Big Dee.

It marks another fine achievement for the County Carlow native, who has been crowned champion amateur jockey in Ireland a record-breaking 15 times. In 2012, he beat the record of 72 winners for an amateur rider in a calendar year in Ireland, which had been set by Billy Parkinson in 1915, setting the new mark at 74. His best seasonal tally is 68 winners in the 2012/2013 season.

He beat Ted Walsh’s long-standing amateur record of 545 winners in July 2018 at Sligo when taking the bumper on Queens Boulevard.

Mullins said: “I probably should have a few more, but the aim is to get to 1,000 so I have a few more years to go.

“We have had a huge amount of summer bumper fillies in this year and obviously with Jamie (Codd) taking the summer off it is a big help.”

Regarding the Roger Brookhouse-owned Luckinthecity, he added: “He just shied at the tape although doing a circle at the start was probably a good idea! For luck nobody wanted to make the running so we were able to make up the ground quite easily.

“We went steady so didn’t lose much ground and he showed a great turn of foot, which he doesn’t show at home. Obviously on grass he is better and the owner stands the stallion and he looks a nice type.”

Elsewhere on the card, Samui may have earned himself a trip to Cheltenham later in the year after lunging late to secure top honours in the Liam Healy Memorial Lartigue Hurdle.

A field of 18 runners went to post for the €60,000 feature on day two of the Harvest Festival, with Samui the 4-1 favourite as part of a four-strong team for trainer Gordon Elliot.

With heavy rain before the race ensuring conditions were testing, plenty had cried enough by the time the leaders rounded the home turn, at which point Dark Note appeared to be travelling best of all.

But Samui was delivered with a well-time challenge by 5lb claimer Danny Gillian and got up in the dying strides to prevail by a head.

“I was worried about the ground, which is yielding, but he went through it better than most. I was actually very nervous about my four runners due to the rain which came,” said Elliott.

“Whatever happened he choked with Jack (Kennedy, jockey) the last day at Ballinrobe, but it worked out today.

“I don’t think he is a winter horse but is definitely a type to head to Cheltenham in November. We might then put him away as he could also run on the Flat next year.”

Mayor’s Walk had earlier impressed on her rules debut for Henry de Bromhead in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Maiden Hurdle.

Bought after winning a point-to-point for Colin Bowe, the 5-1 shot looks a promising recruit judged on this six-and-a-half-length success in the hands of Rachael Blackmore.

“She won a point-to-point for Colin Bowe and is really nice. She a lovely mare and hopefully that’s just the start of her now,” said the jockey.

“She had done a nice bit of work at home but at this time of year they will always improve and she gave me a lovely feel. Her jumping is really good and professional and she was very straightforward for me.”

Aeros Luck (3-1) led home a one-two for Gavin Cromwell in the Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle, with his stablemate Pampar Lady (66-1) clear of the remainder in second.

“Aeros Luck deserved that as he had been banging on the door. He was very keen the last day but is learning and settled lovely on the flat track today,” said Cromwell.

“Pampar Lady ran a cracker and I fancied her to run a cracker. I told one of the owners to have a fiver each-way and he did the forecast!”

Cromwell doubled up in the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle with Patrick O’Brien steering 5-1 shot The King Of Prs to a clearcut win.

Bumper double takes Mullins over 200 Irish winners for the season

Willie Mullins enjoyed a landmark afternoon as he registered an across-the-card bumper double at Limerick and Naas, bringing up his 200th winner of the season in Ireland in the process.

The horse to give the champion trainer the double century was Junta Marvel (85-40), who made a successful debut in the Storms The Stars @ Coolagown Stud Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race at Limerick.

JP McManus-owned point-to-point victor Bioluminescence was the 5-4 favourite, but Junta Marvel saw her off by two and half lengths in the hands of Patrick Mullins.

“It was a good performance,” said the record-breaking amateur.

“She was a little keen early on but we got to pick a nice strip of ground. Being by Masked Marvel, she loved the ground and while we hoped to have her ready for a Listed bumper, she could still make the Grade Three mares’ bumper at Punchestown next month.

“That’s 200 wins for the yard this season, our best was 212 so hopefully we can beat that.

“We’ve had a brilliant season and it’s not over yet with Fairyhouse, Aintree and Punchestown ahead.”

It did not take long for the Mullins camp to make it 201, with Mirazur West justifying market confidence in the Nursery Of Champions INH Flat Race at Naas.

The Westerner gelding looked set to win a point-to-point at Dromahane in November when falling at the final fence under Derek O’Connor, who was again on board for his debut under rules.

Carrying the McManus silks, Mirazur West was all the rage as the 1-2 favourite, despite facing a point-to-point winner and £360,000 purchase in Henry de Bromhead’s Mahon’s Way, and made every yard of the running on his way to a two-and-a-half-length success.

He’s My Hero, who set his connections back £120,000 after finishing second in the point-to-point sphere, narrowly beat Mahon’s Way to the runner-up spot.

Patrick Mullins facing tough Champion Bumper choice

Patrick Mullins believes It’s For Me is a worthy favourite for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper – but admits he faces a tough choice to pick between all his father’s contenders.

Willie Mullins has won the Cheltenham Festival feature 12 times and should his son ride a fourth winner of the Grade One contest in a fortnight’s time, he will go ahead of Ruby Walsh as the race’s most successful rider.

Mullins registered his first Champion Bumper victory aboard Cousin Vinny in 2008 and having partnered plenty of this year’s contenders to success, he rates wide-margin Navan winner It’s For Me as a likely leading light.

He said: “The betting says It’s For Me is our best chance. He won his point-to-point very well, but he was a big price there and although I thought he’d win at Navan last month, I didn’t expect him to win in the manner that he did.

“I’m not sure it was a particularly strong race, but the way he did it was impressive and he would be a fair favourite I’d say.”

Chapeau De Soleil, Western Diego and Fact To File are also prominent in the Closutton team.

“Fact To File improved hugely from his win at Leopardstown at Christmas, so I rode him at the Dublin Racing Festival where he was only beaten by a Flat-bred rival (John Kiely’s entry A Dream To Share) in a slow-run race on good ground,” Mullins added.

“There has to be a chance that he could reverse that form on more watered ground with a hill.

“Western Diego was also very good at Naas, and although he’s quite keen he’s by Westerner and is probably a stronger stayer.”

Fun Fun Fun impressed at the Dublin Racing Festival
Fun Fun Fun impressed at the Dublin Racing Festival (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Fun Fun Fun carries the same ‘double green’ colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede as It’s For Me, but she would be a special winner for Mullins as he bred the Martaline mare himself – although he cannot ride her at Prestbury Park.

He said: “Fun Fun Fun was hugely impressive at Leopardstown earlier this month in a strongly-run Grade Two, but as she’s a mare I can’t do the weight.

“I bred her myself out of a mare I bought in foal because she was a sister to Yorkhill and she’s entitled to improve. She hadn’t run for more than three months and so I was afraid she mightn’t be fit enough that day.

“She’s got two younger siblings coming through by Doctor Dino, and a third by Jukebox Jury, so if I can’t win it I’m hoping it’s her coming past me on my outside!”

With so many chances, Mullins is expecting a hard call on which horse he will ride come the big day.

He added: “This year nothing has put its hand up to say ‘I’m the special one’, but these horses don’t run very often and they improve at different rates, and so it’s hard to get a handle on them.

“There are lots of options, and I’m probably guaranteed to pick the wrong one. I remember (2013 winner) Briar Hill was very average at home and I wanted him to stay at home for Limerick the week after, but Willie’s view is that if they have a chance they go, and every year we have a 20-1 winner.

“It’s very hard to pick the right one, but as Ruby and I both have three previous winners it would be nice to have another one.”

Patrick Mullins on Cousin Vinny at Cheltenham
Patrick Mullins on Cousin Vinny at Cheltenham (Barry Batchelor/PA)

On the family history with the race, Mullins has memories stretching back as far as his father’s first success as trainer/rider of Wither Or Which 27 years ago.

He said: “I grew up with photos on the wall of Wither Or Which winning in 1996, of ‘Woody’ (Richard Dunwoody) winning on Florida Pearl in 1997, and of Ruby winning on Alexander Banquet in 1998. Also of Joe Cullen, who Charlie Swan rode in 2000, who was owned and bred by my mother and who only went on the lorry because Adamant Approach was lame the day before.

“It’s obviously been a very lucky race for us, and winning on Cousin Vinny in 2008 was the dream, because I hadn’t been riding very long and I’d gone there expecting to ride Drive On Regardless, who finished out the back.

“It was the year that the Wednesday was called off and the bumper was run as the 10th race on Thursday, in near darkness. You never forget a day like that. It was my first Grade One and very special.”

Mullins looking to Sharjah to seize Red Mills opportunity

Patrick Mullins is confident Sharjah can make the most of having his sights lowered in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park on Saturday.

The record-breaking amateur has guided the veteran to six of his nine victories over hurdles, a haul which includes a Galway Hurdle, two Morgiana Hurdles and four wins in the Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown.

But having proved no match for the younger legs of his Champion Hurdle-bound stablemate State Man in either of the latter two contests this season, Sharjah makes a rare appearance outside Grade One company in this weekend’s two-mile Grade Three.

“We skipped the Dublin Racing Festival as he doesn’t seem to run well there, so this seems like a good opportunity for him,” said Mullins, who is assistant to his father, Willie.

“This is his first time to run below Grade One level over hurdles since 2018 so he should enjoy the drop in class. Obviously, he’s got all the penalties and I’d like to think he should be very hard to beat.

“I think the ground will really suit him. Normally we wouldn’t go to Gowran with him at this time of year as it’s usually soft ground, but it’s dry so that will suit.

“Hopefully he can do the business and win a race as prestigious as the Red Mills Trial Hurdle. It’s a big local race for us and I’m delighted to be riding in it.”

Sharjah’s rivals include Gordon Elliott’s pair of Fil Dor and Doctor Bravo, plus Padraig Butler’s course-and-distance winner Da Capo Glory.

Haut En Couleurs in action at Leopardstown
Haut En Couleurs in action at Leopardstown (Niall Carson/PA)

The Mullins team appear to hold all the aces in the Grade Two Red Mills Chase, with champion trainer Willie saddling Haut En Couleurs, Capodanno and Janidil.

Haut En Couleurs is the hot favourite, having looked the likely winner of the Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles last month when tipping up the final fence.

“It’ll be a good trial for Cheltenham. They’re sort of Ryanair horses so it’ll be interesting to see how they go in the Red Mills Chase,” Willie Mullins said earlier this week.

“It’s a great opportunity for them with Allaho out and will answer a lot of questions for us.”

Capodanno and Janidil are two of three runners for leading owner JP McManus along with Joseph O’Brien’s stable stalwart Darasso, who won the Red Mills Trial Hurdle on this card four years ago.

O’Brien said: “He’s a brilliant horse to have and has been a superstar for the yard.

“It looks a good race, but hopefully he can collect some more prize money.”

Facile Vega faces toughest test yet at Leopardstown

Facile Vega and High Definition are all set to take each other on in a Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle not to be missed at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Already odds-on for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, that price tends to be based more around what Facile Vega achieved in bumpers last season, including a stylish victory in the championship event in March.

He has won both starts over timber to date and the son of six-times Festival winner Quevega will be all the rage for the first race of the big meeting should he win again.

Assistant trainer Patrick Mullins rode him in all his bumpers and said: “I suppose he has his critics but that is probably based on the price he is for the Supreme, I don’t think anyone is knocking the horse for what he’s done.

“I was more impressed than most people at Christmas, more so because of Paul’s (Townend) body language, he didn’t really ask him to race until after the last and that form has worked out, both Ashroe Diamond (third) and Path D’Oroux (fourth) have won since.

“So I think that performance was a lot better than he was given credit for at the time.”

Mullins’ father Willie will also saddle another unbeaten runner in the race in Dark Raven who defied a 631-day absence to make a winning hurdling debut at Leopardstown, form which has subsequently been franked.

“He is a horse who doesn’t show us an awful lot at home but every time he goes to the track he looks a different animal,” said Mullins jnr.

Dark Raven impressed on his return from a long absence
Dark Raven impressed on his return from a long absence (Brian Lawless/PA)

“It’s a big step up in class for him but we think he’s more than worthy of his place in the line up.”

Il Etait Temps, who has four lengths to find with Facile Vega, completes the Mullins trio.

It is far from a Mullins benefit, though, with one-time Derby favourite High Definition, now with Joseph O’Brien, looking to add to his winning hurdling debut.

“We’re looking forward to taking on Facile Vega, hopefully he runs well,” said O’Brien.

“I think he’ll improve from his first run over hurdles, as he’s entitled to. The form has worked out well, it’s a big step up in class but we’re hoping for a good run.

“It’s a big ask going from a maiden straight into a Grade One, but at this time of year it’s kind of what you have to do if you’re going to go to the big Festivals.

“Hopefully he acquits himself well and we’ll have something to look forward to for the spring.”

Gordon Elliott has always thought a lot of Irish Point and he has finished second in two Grade Ones the last twice.

“He probably has gone underneath the radar a little bit, but he is a good horse, so we are looking forward to running him,” he said.

“It’s too early to say whether he will go for the Supreme or Ballymore, but he is entered in everything.”

Henry De Bromhead’s Inthepocket is another defending an unbeaten record having won at Wexford and a Grade Two at Naas.

“The Lawlor’s was coming a bit too quick for my liking as he’d had a hard race at Naas but we’re happy enough to look at two miles as well as he travels well in his races. I think it’s a nice race to run in and we’ll see where we are afterwards,” said De Bromhead.

The Ladbrokes Novice Chase is a rarity in that it is a Grade One with a non-Mullins favourite.

Mighty Potter has made a big impression over fences
Mighty Potter has made a big impression over fences (Brian Lawless/PA)

That honour goes to Elliott’s Mighty Potter, who has been very impressive over fences to date and in his career overall bar at Cheltenham in March when everything that could go wrong did.

Joey Logan, racing manager for owners Andrew and Gemma Brown’s Caldwell Construction, said: “He worked on Wednesday and is in top form – Gordon is very happy with him.

“We’re looking forward to running him, it’s exciting to be honest.

“It was always the plan to skip Christmas and keep him fresh. Hopefully it works out for us on Sunday and then we can go on to Cheltenham.

“If everything goes to plan he’ll have a strong chance.”

Mullins runs Adamantly Chosen, Gaillard Du Mesnil, I Am Maximus, James Du Berlais and Kilcruit.

Lossiemouth leading Mullins’ team in Spring Juvenile Hurdle

Lossiemouth is out to maintain her unbeaten record in the Donohue Marquees Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday.

She heads a six-strong Willie Mullins team that also includes interesting French recruit Gust Of Wind, Jourdefete, Tekao, Cinsa and Gala Marceau, with Brendan Duke’s hurdling debutant Darraby and Henry de Bromhead’s Ascending also in the mix.

Vauban won the race 12 months ago and went on to follow up at Cheltenham in the Triumph Hurdle, sporting the same pink and green Rich Ricci silks as Lossiemouth.

Mullins said: “Everyone knows Lossiemouth. She won in Fairyhouse and won at Christmas in Leopardstown.

“People are not so much aware of Gust Of Wind, who won a very good race in Auteuil. We managed to get him and gave him a little break and he’s coming back now.

“Hopefully he’s up to this standard, I think he is.”

Day one of the Dublin Racing Festival concludes with the Shabra Charity Oliver Brady Memorial Future Stars I.N.H. Flat Race, a Grade Two bumper Willie and Patrick Mullins have combined to win each of the past three years with Appreciate It, Kilcruit and Facile Vega respectively.

This time around Mullins junior had the pick of four runners and has sided with Fact To File over Chosen Witness, Special Cadeau and Largy Hill – but he insists it was not a straightforward choice.

He said: “It was very difficult to chose. Chosen Witness probably has the best run, but Fact To File is doing the best work.

“More often than not I’d go with the best run but with bumper horses it can be a bit different, they’ve only had the one run and can improve so I’ve gone for Fact To File. But I’m not certain I’m on the right one.”

While Mullins possesses a strong hand, it is his brother Tom who saddles the likely favourite in Fascile Mode, who impressed over the course and distance last month.

He said: “He has to back up his win but he’s been fine since and working well so we’ll have a go and see what he can do.

“He will be a stayer in the making I would say but I liked his turn of foot off a real good pace and it was a fast time that day. It was impressive and it was his first time out so hopefully he will improve a little again and if he does it might get him there.

“It’s only missing a couple of English horses and I think they are best that Gordon (Elliott) and Willie have at the moment, so if he beats them on Saturday he is probably the best bumper horse in Ireland.”

Mullins keen to deflect praise elsewhere after reaching 4,000 career winners

He shrugged it off, just as he had when reaching yet another landmark that few will ever achieve.

Energumene was beaten but unbowed at Cheltenham, his aversion to the Clarence House Chase, his only defeat over fences last term, again haunting favourite-backers after the race was salvaged from a frosty, abandoned Ascot.

Indeed, this was to be a bittersweet afternoon for Willie Mullins, who batted another accomplishment away, with his usual winsome, win-some-lose-some parlance.

He has been at this game a long time. By his own admission, he knows little else than his preposterous ability to train horses.

All smiles from Daryl Jacob following the landmark victory of Bronn
All smiles from Daryl Jacob following the landmark victory of Bronn (PA)

To him, the 4,000th winner of his long and distinguished career, achieved when Bronn narrowly justified long odds-on favouritism in the soil.ie Working With Fairyhouse Beginners Chase, was just another victory.

Not that he would not savour it. There were simply bigger fish to fry.

While things did not quite go according to plan at Prestbury Park, with the Queen Mother Champion Chase hero finishing third to to Editeur Du Gite in the Albert Bartlett-sponsored feature, Mullins, underneath his trademark trilby, was still smiling.

“The winner put up a great performance and I’m not going to take that away from him. We weren’t able to beat him on the day and just hope it will be a different result the next day for us,” he graciously said.

And that is the hallmark of the Closutton handler, who took over from his father, Paddy Mullins, in 1988, having had a hugely successful career as an amateur jockey and also learning more than a few tricks as an assistant to Jim Bolger.

However, he allowed himself a little smile at the milestone, before heaping praise on others, as is his all-too-regular wont.

“I’m delighted,” he said, with more than a hint of embarrassment.

“I’m really happy for all the owners we have met throughout the years who have made this possible.

“They are the building blocks we start on, so I’m very lucky with the group of owners I’ve had over the years, with my family, wife Jackie and (son) Patrick, our staff in the yard who have been with us for years. It is really a family affair.”

No question he has stood on the shoulders of his father, who had a legendary career himself, and the 66-year-old has taken tried and trusted methods, honed his experiences and taken this game to another level altogether.

“Everything I learned, I learned from my dad, including patience, which I didn’t know I was learning – and didn’t want to learn when I was younger, as is the way it is when you are younger,” he admitted.

“You don’t realise the things you are learning as you are just doing day-to-day stuff until you come across those problems and instances in your life that you think back and go, ‘Oh, he would have done this or would have done that’. Then things become simpler and clearer, and you realise why he did those things.

“He was just hugely experienced.”

Did he ever think he would be standing in the Cheltenham winner’s enclosure, before a Grade One event, looking for winner number 4,001?

“I never dreamt it,” he said. “When we were starting off, big jumps trainers had 60 horses, maybe 70. You take the top English trainers at the time, that’s the max they had.

“And if someone said to me when I got my licence, I’ll give you 60 horses for every year you were going to train for the rest of your life, you’d jump at it.

“The game has just gone bigger. The popularity of jump racing is huge and is growing all the time, and long may it last.”

Patrick Mullins is soaking up knowledge from his father
Patrick Mullins is soaking up knowledge from his father (Niall Carson/PA)

There are no signs he has any thoughts of retirement, and that is a great thing. For not only can you bank on backing WP Mullins runners blind at the March Festival – where he is out on his own as the leading trainer – his son is not yet too keen to have that baton passed to him.

Assistant to his father, Patrick said: “Dad is a huge role model. He taught me everything about riding, all about tactics, how to deal with owners, how to deal with other jockeys. He has all the angles covered and he is always thinking about things that aren’t really obvious.

“He learned from his father and built from there.

“I remember, growing up, my memory kicks in when we were second to Noel Meade in the championship and we said, ‘We might beat Noel in prize-money, but we’d never beat him in winners’.”

Of course, there are always choppy waters to navigate. In 2016, Gigginstown House Stud, owned by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, removed 60 horses from the yard, Mullins having put up his training fees for the first time in a decade. If anything, that episode only served to make the operation stronger.

“The big thing was when Gigginstown left, he could have very easily downscaled, but he didn’t – he upscaled, and we’ve more horses now than before Gigginstown left. That is a sign of his ambition,” said Mullins junior.

“One day I’ll take over, I’m sure. But I’m in no rush and I don’t think he is in any rush, either.

“I think he’ll train for a long time yet – and that suits me, I’m not in any rush!”

Willie Mullins casts a watchful eye over his string
Willie Mullins casts a watchful eye over his string (Niall Carson/PA)

Mullins senior is affable, calm, calculated and competitive. He has an endearing yet sometimes frustrating quality in keeping his cards close to his chest, yet one is left with nothing but admiration for his dominance.

Patrick added: “There is more to training horses than just getting them fit. There is a people side and I think he’s very good at it. Some people are good with the people side, but not as good at training, but he’s the full package.

“I don’t think he is quite as obsessed as maybe Aidan O’Brien, he does have other outlets, he is not one-dimensional.”

Mullins senior, a keen Manchester United supporter, likes a round of golf, and by his own admission, is a little more relaxed these days.

“I do tend to try to enjoy things more now,” he said. “I find my interest now is downtime, rather than looking for something else to do, just relaxing when we have time off.

“I suppose when you wake up and you hear a horse coughing or bucking, you are living on the job.

“But everything has been great so far, especially when you have someone like Patrick coming up behind.”

The dynasty is in safe hands, you can be sure of that. But for now we will raise our glass to the next bucket-load of Mullins Festival winners and doff the trilby in tribute.