Willie mullins

There’s no doubt this horse is something special

Aidan O’Brien is a superb trainer. You name it: he has won it. The Derby nine times, the Irish Derby 15. The 2000 Guineas ten times, the Irish 2000 on a dozen occasions. This year he passed the worldwide total of 400 Group One or Grade One victories. He is an innately modest man who always credits every member of his team and suggests the big decisions are made by ‘the Lads’ of the Coolmore operation, John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derek Smith, et al. But that doesn’t mean Aidan cannot be extravagant in praising his winners, notably the progressive youngsters: the multi-billion dollar operation that is Coolmore is, after all,

The British shone at Cheltenham

For Barbara and Alick Richmond, Living Legend’s game 12-1 victory in Kempton’s 1m 2f Magnolia Stakes last Saturday was their first in a Listed race and it showed. Living Legend had been driven to the front two furlongs out and held on bravely to prevail by a nose. ‘Come here you,’ said Barbara to the treasured Joe Fanning, the veteran jockey who had judged his finish perfectly, and enveloped him in a huge affectionate hug. You felt that if she could she would have picked him up, tucked him under an arm and carted him home to sit on the mantelpiece as a trophy. Of Living Legend, a lightly raced

The rise of the long-odds winners

Seen any groundhogs your way? In racing the New Year began much as the old one had ended. At Cheltenham’s New Year’s Day fixture, the Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle feature race ended with Danny Mullins driving to victory Stormy Ireland, a horse trained across the water by his uncle Willie Mullins, after their only serious rival Brewin’upastorm had fallen at the last. Six days earlier, at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, it had been the same story with Tornado Flyer, ridden by Danny and trained by Willie, capturing the £142,000 prize for the celebrated King George VI Chase after his closest rival had capsized at the final obstacle. But while

The secret of Ireland’s racing success

How Father Sean Breen would have loved this year’s Cheltenham Festival. The late parish priest at Ballymore Eustace, who owned a horse or two and had a pundit’s tipping spot on Kildare FM, used to complain that it was most inconsiderate of people to die in the Cheltenham run-up: over 40 years, it was only ever funerals that stopped him attending to conduct his usual service for his fellow Irish attendees, bless a few Irish horses and pray that the Almighty would leave enough in the bookmakers’ satchels for Irish punters to be paid out their winnings. There was nothing in the Bible, he used to argue, that said we

The magic of Cheltenham Festival

Every time the Cheltenham Festival looms, I recall a remarkable experience. It was already 25 years since Dawn Run’s recovery from a seemingly impossible position to win the Gold Cup of 1986, becoming the only horse ever to add victory in our greatest steeplechase to a triumph in the Champion Hurdle, when, for my Festival history, I interviewed her jockey. Jonjo O’Neill took me through every stride of the race as if it had been the day before: ‘We were flying down the hill and I could hear them coming behind us. I thought we’d gone a right gallop and couldn’t believe they were so close to us. We jumped