27 April 2024

Minella Cocooner grabs Sandown Gold for Mullins team

27 April 2024

Seven days on from winning the Scottish National in a photo finish, Willie and Danny Mullins repeated the trick as Minella Cocooner was delivered right on the line to catch long-time leader Annual Invictus in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.

Mullins had been confirmed as champion trainer just 30 minutes earlier when El Fabiolo finished second in the Celebration Chase, so it was perhaps inevitable that he would claim the last feature handicap of the jumps season.

Despite dominating at Cheltenham once more, it was not until the victory of I Am Maximus in the Grand National at Aintree that the title became a possibility and Macdermott’s win at Ayr last week put Mullins within touching distance.

With the pressure off, Danny Mullins crept into contention on the 17-2 chance but Annual Invictus did not give up without a fight.

Two from home there were still plenty in with chances, but it only concerned Minella Cocooner and Annual Invictus at the last and it was the Mullins’ runner who came out on top in a tight finish.

The runner-up lost very little in defeat for Chris Gordon, with Mullins’ Nick Rockett and Paul Townend back in third.

“For my nephew Danny to ride, it was special, especially after what he did last week in Ayr,” said Mullins.

“He gave the horse a tremendous ride, he was doing the right thing going down the back, got him balanced and travelling and got two tremendous jumps over the last two fences.

“Danny is our super-sub, he has been fantastic for us all season so congratulations to Danny and to my owners too for letting me come here rather than Punchestown.”

I’m just a small part in Willie’s success but I’m delighted to be there

Danny Mullins said: “Plans pretty much went out the window. We were in a grand position at the start but he’d been quite keen in some of his early races and I’d made the running on him in some of his races as a novice hurdler, so at the standing start I couldn’t rush him early and I was out of the picture.

“Thankfully Willie wouldn’t have been able to see me there to give out, but he always instils in us to keep riding to win even if plans change, just adjust and ride to the best of our ability, and it came together nicely in the end.

“I’m just a small part in Willie’s success but I’m delighted to be there. There’s a fantastic team at home all through the year, from scouts to owners to staff. I’m lucky enough to get the leg up when Paul (Townend) is elsewhere or when there’s a couple of runners, it’s just fantastic to be a part of it.

“That’ll do nicely. I’m always trying to put myself in a position to be a big-race jockey and I’ve been very lucky for a number of years to be riding regular Grade One winners. You have to keep the hard work going so you can dine at the top table, and thankfully it’s worked out again today.”

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