Mullins Celebrates 100th Cheltenham Win With Jasmin De Vaux

Nearly three decades have passed since the Closutton maestro celebrated his first Festival win with Tourist Attraction in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Mullins Celebrates 100th Cheltenham Wiith Jasmin De Vaux
Mullins Celebrates 100th Cheltenham Wiith Jasmin De Vaux

Willie Mullins achieved a landmark 100th win at the Cheltenham Festival when Patrick Mullins steered Jasmin De Vaux to victory in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, marking Willie's 13th triumph in this race.

Nearly three decades have passed since the Closutton maestro celebrated his first Festival win with Tourist Attraction in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. A year later, he both trained and rode Wither Or Which to a maiden Champion Bumper victory.

Fast forward to the present, and Mullins stands unparalleled as the most victorious trainer at National Hunt racing's premier event, boasting 94 wins before this week's Festival in the Cotswolds, significantly outpacing his close friend and competitor Nicky Henderson, who has 73 wins. Unlike Mullins, Henderson's recent experience has been less favourable, with the withdrawal of several key contenders. Mullins, having dispatched a formidable team to the competition, was inevitably on the cusp of the century mark, especially after securing three wins on Tuesday through the efforts of Champion Hurdle winner State Man, Mares' Hurdle champion Lossiemouth, and Arkle winner Gaelic Warrior.

Expectations were high for El Fabiolo in the Queen Mother Champion Chase to break the record, but an unforeseen mishap at the fifth fence extended the anticipation.

Despite the absence of Mullins' winners in the Coral Cup and Grand Annual, it was serendipitous that his landmark 100th win came in the festival race he has dominated more than any other, with Jasmin De Vaux clinching the victory at odds of 9-2, under the guidance of his son Patrick in the saddle.

"It's a wonderful day, it's fantastic. As much I enjoy what's happening, I think of my colleague and fellow trainer Nicky Henderson and what's happened with his yard this week," Mullins said.

"That's always a worry that we have in the two or three weeks coming up to Cheltenham, that something will come in and bite you from outside. As much as we're enjoying it, I don't know how he must be feeling.

"You want competition and it must be gutting for him. You'd like good opposition to have fun with because I'm sure he would have beaten us a few times this week.

He went on: "I thought my lifetime achievement was when I had a winner here in Cheltenham in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle back in 1995 and who ever dreamt any trainer, never mind me, could do it .

"The team of owners we have help and I can't train winners without a team of owners who have horses and then the team from my wife Jackie, to David Casey, Patrick, Ruby (Walsh), all our head people, it's huge for them. I think they are probably going to enjoy it more than I will. It's extraordinary stuff."

Paying tribute to his son, Mullins said: "For Patrick to do it makes it very special and to do it for one of my biggest owners (Simon Munir and Isaac Souede)."

"The team of owners we have make the job what it is, I can't do it without them. They all praise each other when they have a winner and share in each other's disappointment. Without owners I wouldn't be here, none of us would, it's their sport.

"I was really pleased that Patrick was the one to do it because I wasn't sure he was on the right one but he was spot on and I was wrong.

"I'm just delighted, I wouldn't say emotional. When I started out I didn't think anyone would ever train 100 Cheltenham winners and I certainly didn't think it would be me. People were saying I should have done it last year!"

On his father hitting the milestone, Mullins junior said: "There are no words really because it's not something that when you start out you think is possible, it's not even a dream because who dreams of having 100 Cheltenham winners?

"He has redefined what is possible and I'm just very privileged to get the 100 for my father – it's a special moment.

"I always play it back to when the Gigginstown split happened and we lost the biggest owner in racing and a third or a quarter of our horses. Willie was in his early 60s and instead of him consolidating and maybe finishing second or third he went out and got more horses, more owners, more staff and more problems and got bigger because of it. I think if that hadn't happened, we mightn't be where we are right now.

"The calibre of staff we have is fantastic and the owners he's built. He started with Rich (Ricci), that was our kickstart, and now we have the Munirs, the Donnellys, Cheveley Park and others. He's making the most of everything.

"Willie can tell you do something one day and the next day he'll give out to you for doing it, having forgotten he told you to do it the day before!

Mullins; 2024 Cheltenham Runners

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