Tuesday, February 07, 2023

No trainer in the history of The Cheltenham Festival has trained more winners at it than Willie Mullins.

Tourist Attraction in the 1995 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle was the first of what now stands at a record 88 winners for the master of Closutton. In 2022 he set yet another record when saddling an unprecedented 10 winner over the four days of The Festival.

Today he opened up the doors of his County Carlow stables in a media visit organised by The Jockey Club and outlined his hopes for The Festival in 2023, which kicks off in just over five weeks’ time on Tuesday 14 March.

Reflecting on 2022 and looking ahead to 2023, Mullins said: “I haven’t even thought about beating the 10 winners we had last year.

“Getting winners at Cheltenham is a relief. We are just aiming to get on the board if we can and hopefully some of the right ones will win.

“They say we have 14 favourites for Cheltenham and around half the favourites win every year so I think so that’s not a bad number to have!

“Every inch of ground is fought for at Cheltenham from start to finish and everyone thinks they have a chance. They jump off and get a position on the rails or just off it and jockeys are fighting for the first couple of furlongs – it is just some immense compared to normal day to day racing. Nothing is given but that is what is what makes it special and what makes it hard to win there.

“People expect us to have winners at Cheltenham but we never go there expecting and it’s a relief when we get a winner and then hopefully one or two more.

“The main thing is that horses and jockeys come back safe, our owners have fun and we have fun. When you see jockeys getting falls it beings you back down to Earth and I admire them for what they do. I am surprised at how much I have got out of training – it’s a different aspect to riding but I have fantastic clients who enjoy racing and I and all of us here enjoy what we do. I think I’m enjoying it more than ever really.”