Legendary Quiet man of racing slips away
The legendary Paddy Mullins passed away peacefully in Co Carlow yesterday morning and while his legacy lives on through his family, the memories of his many successes in the training ranks are fondly recalled.
Mullins famously trained the great mare Dawn Run to become the only horse ever to win the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup double although he ranked his greatest ever achievement as winning the Champion Stakes with Hurry Harriet.
It was as recently as 2003 when Mullins recorded a memorable victory and a first Irish Classic courtesy of Vintage Tipple who won the Irish 1000 Guineas in the hands of Frankie Dettori.
Mullins, who was 91, was quiet and unassuming, but legendary during the 52 years he held a training licence.
From the day he saddled his first winner at Punchestown in 1953 all the way through to handing over his licence to son Tom in 2005, he warranted every bit of respect which has been evident in the last 24 hours.
Mullins is survived by his loving wife Maureen, who herself is still a regular figure at big race days, and their five children -- sons George, Willie, Tony, Tom and daughter Sandra.
George is a popular figure in the horse transport business, while Willie, Tony, Tom and Sandra (McCarthy) are all successful trainers. And Mullins' grandsons Patrick, Emmett and Danny are all accomplished jockeys in the weighroom.
Willie, Tony, Tom and daughter-in-law Mags all withdrew their runners at yesterday's Clonmel meeting following the bereavement.
Tony Mullins said yesterday: "Everyone knows he was a great trainer, but he was an even greater family man. The family has always been very unified and he kept it that way all his life. It was a little tough the last couple of days, but up until then he had a very good and healthy life."
Mullins added; "It's only seven years since he trained a Classic winner, but he always maintained his greatest achievement was training Hurry Harriet to win the 1973 Champions Stakes."
Horse Racing Ireland's Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh also paid tribute to the 10-time Champion Trainer.
"I was saddened to hear of the death of Paddy Mullins," said Kavanagh.
"From the winner he trained in 1953 until he retired from the training ranks in 2005, the performances of his horses on the track spoke loudly of the talents of the quiet man of Irish racing over a span of more than 50 years.
"The scenes at Cheltenham in 1986 when the legendary Dawn Run returned after becoming the only horse to land both the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup will long live in memory as will Frankie Dettori's celebrations in the Curragh after Vintage Tipple's Irish Oaks success in 2003.
"And it speaks volumes that it was not either of these achievements but the defeat of the mighty Allez France by Hurry Harriet in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket thirty years before that Curragh success that the trainer himself regarded as his greatest day in racing."