Mullins in race for record
Personal best of winners on cards for Willie after Walsh seals swift century
WILLIE MULLINS has dominated headlines for the last three months and today was no different as he has already reached the 100 mark for this season.
And this feat comes despite his worst start to a campaign since he has been Ireland's leading trainer.
Mullins traditionally makes his mark in the depths of winter and wouldn't have a massive team to go to war with during the summer, thus making his achievement of saddling winner 100 on the opening day of February a fantastic feat.
A few weeks back, we carried a piece on how much of his success is not only down to the superior quality of his horses, but his excellence in placing them, and Sir Des Champs was another prime example of that over the weekend.
With his ability, most trainers may have opted to launch him straight into a Grade One at Christmas, but the trainer’s patience saw him compete in a Grade Two over the festive period and he won another such contest at Leopardstown last weekend to extend his unbeaten run.
Cheltenham might see him eventually contest a top-level race or else possibly the Jewson Novice Handicap, but wherever he goes, he'll be all the better for this tender approach next year, as the way he races suggests the penny is still in freefall. Sir Des Champs is just one such example.
Of course, when you have such an abundance of talent, separating them isn't always easy. But Mikael D'Haguenet winning the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran last week and Boston Bob having the ability to win the Grade Two novice, despite giving plenty of weight away all around, further demonstrates the accurate and astute placing.
Over the past 14 days in Ireland, Mullins has had 41 runners in a total of 32 races, winning 17 of them. Thirteen others were placed in the first four, meaning that just 11 were unplaced – and four of them failed to complete.
We could fill a page with statistics alone, but Mullins would now be a short-priced favourite to go beyond his previous record tally in Ireland of 146, which he set in the 2009/10 season.
Ever since he was crowned Champion Trainer in 2007/08 he has reached more than a century. In the season that he sent out 146 winners, he didn't make it to 100 until February 13th, and there are six more meetings in Ireland between now and then.
Incredibly, Mullins didn't train a winner in Ireland until July this year and prior to November had only accumulated 20 of his century, meaning that since November he has amassed an amazing total of 80 winners in just three months and one day.
The season of his 146 saw the Carlow trainer send out 53 winners before November and 97 by this stage.
If we include his two Cheltenham winners of 2010, his total tally for that season was 148, but he has already enjoyed a Cheltenham double this season from the November meeting, bringing him to 102 for total winners trained over jumps so far this term.
Golden Silver won four races in the 2009/10 season, while his most successful campaigner numerically so far this season has been Blazing Tempo, who so far has also won four, including the Galway Plate.
Boston Bob, Sir Des Champs, Zaidpour and So Young are all unbeaten from three appearances to date.
Ruby Walsh brought the century up yesterday and as stable jockey he has naturally ridden the bulk of the winners with 38, while Willie's son Patrick has enjoyed 25 victories and a €5.57 profit for a €1 stake on all his rides.
With the team looking as though it will get stronger, a new personal best for Willie Mullins and his Closutton army is probably one of the safer bets this season.
MULLINS BOYLESPORTS SPECIALS
Mullins to have 147 winners or more 1/2
Mullins to beat Aidan O’Brien’s record for a season 4/5
Mullins to be leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival 6/4