Cheltenham Festival Horse Racing Success
Willie Mullins Issues Warning to Rivals as He Nears First British Trainers’ Title, Saying “We Could Get a Liking for It!

Willie Mullins Issues Warning to Rivals as He Nears First British Trainers’ Title, Saying “We Could Get a Liking for It!

No trainer based in Ireland has won the British jumps crown since Vincent O’Brien claimed his second championship in 1954. However, Mullins is poised to emulate that feat as he was almost £200,000 clear of second-placed Dan Skelton before racing started on Thursday. Mullins has surged clear of his opponents in the last two months courtesy of a string of top-level successes which helped him become the first trainer to saddle 100 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, while he also cleaned up at the Grand National meeting at Aintree and the Scottish Grand National fixture at Ayr.

We entered a bigger team for Liverpool than usual and it worked out very well. That put us right in the mix if the Grand National came up, and it did. “I said to my team at home this is once in a lifetime and we just throw everything at it and see what happens.

It’s gone well and we’ve had good results. “To be in the position we are in, with it being done but not quite dusted, I will be very proud of everyone if we can achieve this. I have been amazed at the support we have got travelling across to different tracks in Britain, we have been given carte blanche to do what we think is best.

It’s been a real sense of Team Closutton.”

Mullins praised his staff and owners for helping to drive the achievements of this season, which have included winning the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and said he was aware that likely championship victory would be keenly felt by those he had defeated. “I’m sure it’s disappointing for Paul [Nicholls], and then Dan thought he had it and then for someone to land in late must have been tough for him, but that’s what makes winning it worth it; you have got to lose a final to win a final – that’s what makes it sweeter. You appreciate it more when you have lost one and then go back and win it.” He added: “We could get a liking for it!

A lot of my owners over the years have been asking about having a go at it and starting earlier in the season, and this could whet the appetite. I don’t want to make any plans for next year at this stage, but we’ll keep one eye on it and see how we go.” Mullins said emulating O’Brien was “something we never dreamed of” as he is the “legend of legends in racing”. Nevertheless, O’Brien’s approach was not something overlooked by Mullins, who said: “I met him once or twice but when I met him I never dreamed one could be as good as him or anything like that.

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