13 March 2024

Walsh salutes Mullins on ‘incredible achievement’ of Festival century

13 March 2024

Ruby Walsh hailed the “incredible achievement” of his former boss Willie Mullins after he became the first trainer to notch up a century of winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

The showpiece meeting’s most successful jockey has known the master of Closutton since childhood and it was Mullins who provided Walsh with his first Festival winner at Prestbury Park when get getting the leg-up aboard Alexander Banquet in the 1998 Champion Bumper.

They would go on to unite for many great days in the Cotswolds, with Walsh the man in the saddle for four of Mullins’ Champion Hurdle victories and at the heart of the action as Mullins became the dominant force in National Hunt racing over the last decade.

Despite retiring in 2019, Walsh remains a key part of the team at Closutton and has witnessed first hand how the operation has grown into the vast equine centre of excellence it is today, bursting at the seams with huge winners.

However, despite the yard’s growth, it is still the boss who holds the most sway and Walsh is full of admiration for the way he oversees matters both at home and on course.

He said: “It’s awesome, an incredible achievement as a manager, because that what he is, a sporting manager.

“He is like the CEO, his wife is the CFO, his son is the managing director and he’s doing it all.

He's just an incredible manager, that's what he is and the sport is lucky to have him

“If he was in any other sport they wouldn’t be telling him he was too dominant.

“He’s just an incredible manager, that’s what he is and the sport is lucky to have him.”

It was Jasmin De Vaux who brought up Mullins’ century in the hands of his son Patrick, with great Irish rival Gordon Elliott filling the podium places with Romeo Coolio and race favourite Jalon D’oudairies.

However, he was thrilled to see the man he one day aspires to beat in the Irish trainers’ championship reach the landmark figure at jumps racing HQ.

Elliott said: “I’m just lucky to have been born in the same era as Willie Mullins. Listen, he’s a great man and I’m delighted for him to get his 100 winners at Cheltenham.”

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