Cheltenham Festival 2014: Willie Mullins

Born on 15 September, 1956, Willie Mullins was six-time amateur champion rider in Ireland and both rode and trained Wither Or Which to win the 1996 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.

He hails from one of Ireland’s most famous racing families (pictured), as one of five children of late Paddy Mullins, the outstanding all-round trainer whose most famous star was Dawn Run, winner of the 1984 Champion Hurdle and 1986 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He started training in 1988, having been assistant to his father and Jim Bolger. His first winner as a trainer was Silver Batchelor in the M & J Gleeson INH Flat Race, Thurles on 18 February, 1988. He also rode the horse.


Wither Or Which was one of eight Weatherbys Champion Bumper winners trained by Willie Mullins (also Florida Pearl 1997, Alexander Banquet 1998, Joe Cullen 2000, Missed That 2005, Cousin Vinny 2008, Champagne Fever 2012, Briar Hill 2013).

Mullins saddled Rule Supreme to win the RSA Chase at the 2004 Cheltenham Festival and sent out the same horse to win the Irish Hennessy in 2005.

His best chaser to date has been Florida Pearl, who was placed in two Cheltenham Gold Cups, won the 1998 RSA Chase, the 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004 Irish Hennessy Cognac Gold Cups in Ireland as well as the 2001 King George VI Chase and the 2002 Betfred Bowl at Aintree.

In 2011, he trained the brilliant Hurricane Fly to win the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and regained the hurdling crown with the same horse in 2013.

He was leading trainer with five victories at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, where he has been successful 29 times – the best record of any Irish trainer ever after overtaking Tom Dreaper’s 26 wins.

He won The Irish Independent Award as the top Festival trainer for the first time in 2011 with four victories and again in 2013 with five victories.

He captured the 2005 Grand National with Hedgehunter.

Mullins has over 150 horses at his Closutton yard near Bagenalstown in County Carlow and has been champion Irish jump trainer for the past six seasons and eight times in total. Last season he broke the previous record of 155 winnersin a season set by Aidan O’Brien in 1995/96, ending up with 193 successes.

Cheltenham Festival wins (29)

1995: 1 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Tourist Attraction)
1996: 1 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Wither Or Which)
1997: 1 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Florida Pearl)
1998: 2 – RSA Chase (Florida Pearl), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Alexander Banquet)
2000: 1 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Joe Cullen)
2002: 1 – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Scolardy)
2004: 1 – RSA Chase (Rule Supreme)
2005: 1 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Missed That)
2007: 1 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Ebaziyan)
2008: 2 – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Fiveforthree), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Cousin Vinny)
2009: 3 – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Quevega), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Mikael D’Haguenet), RSA Chase (Cooldine)
2010: 2 – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Quevega), Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (Thousand Stars)
2011: 4 – Stan James Champion Hurdle (Hurricane Fly), OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Quevega), Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (Final Approach), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle (Sir Des Champs)
2012: 3 – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Quevega), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Champagne Fever), JLT Novices’ Chase (Sir Des Champs)
2013: 5 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Champagne Fever), Stan James Champion Hurdle (Hurricane Fly), OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Quevega), National Hunt Chase (Back In Focus), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Briar Hill)


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