Willie Mullins roars to the front in Trainers' Championship race

Willie Mullins roars to the front in Trainers' Championship race

Willie Mullins turned the tables on Gordon Elliott in spectacular fashion at Punchestown today and is now the red-hot favourite to claim a 12th Irish trainers' championship after an incredible six-timer.

Mullins started the Festival €521,413 behind his big rival and while a Tuesday treble reduced the deficit, the story of the opening day was Paul Townend's huge error of judgement aboard Al Boum Photo in the Growise Champion Chase, which led to Elliott training the first three home.

With Elliott going on to enjoy another one-two-three in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper to take his lead back to 405,839 at the close of play, it looked as though that after his heartbreaking defeat in last year's title race, this could be his year.

However, Mullins promised he would not give up his crown without a fight and roared back in scarcely believable fashion, highlighted by a one-two in the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup, and at the end of play he remarkably led by €48,161.

Djakadam jumped superbly in front under the trainer's son, Patrick, but ultimately had to make do with minor honours in the Gold Cup behind 4-1 Bellshill, the mount of his nephew, David Mullins.

With the Mullins-trained Killultagh Vic also fifth, the trainer earned well over €200,000 in the race and in doing so reduced Elliott's lead to €112,339.

With only one race escaping his grasp on the afternoon, Mullins said: "It's like fantasy racing.

"We've got a tremendous bunch of owners, a tremendous bunch of jockeys and I've tremendous stable staff so we're delighted. Days like this put it all together.

"We'd a tremendous day yesterday, but it's a really really tremendous day today."

Asked if he had ever had six winners on one day, he said: "I don't think so, no. I had to remember which fingers to put up for the photographers!

"It's an extraordinary day. I don't think I'll get out of my local tonight!

"Punchestown has been good to us and today has been extraordinary."

Mullins added of Bellshill: "He could be a Gold Cup horse. The performance he put up in Fairyhouse (placed fifth in Irish Grand National) was a Gold Cup performance in my book, and today has just confirmed that."

Pravalaguna (11-4) and Townend set the Mullins machine in motion by winning the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle before he claimed the two other Grade Ones on the card.

On bagging a Grade One treble, Mullins said: "It's extraordinary - fantastic, and three different riders."

Next Destination (5-4) claimed his second top-level success of the season in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle under Townend, but at that stage Elliott still held sway by €340,589.

However, following the Gold Cup domination and Tornado Flyer's (12-1) success in the Racing Post Champion I.N.H. Flat Race - leading home a one-two-three for Mullins - the tables had well and truly turned and Mullins went into the final two races of the day just 30,339 behind.

Patricks Park and Townend - completing his hat-trick to banish the memories of Tuesday - brought up the five-timer in the Guinness Handicap Chase, which saw Mullins go €31,661 in front.

An outstanding day for the Mullins camp was rounded off by Colreevy, who justified 7-4 favouritism in the Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares Flat Race under Patrick Mullins.

The trainer said: "I can't take it in. I'm just delighted. Everyone is getting a piece of the pie."

More on this topic

Willie Mullins and Aidan O’Brien among Horse Racing Ireland Awards nomineesWillie Mullins and Aidan O’Brien among Horse Racing Ireland Awards nominees

HRI voids registrations of syndicate which owns Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite KemboyHRI voids registrations of syndicate which owns Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Kemboy

First day of Cheltenham’s November meeting abandoned following heavy rainFirst day of Cheltenham’s November meeting abandoned following heavy rain

Douvan delights on return from 569-day absenceDouvan delights on return from 569-day absence

More in this Section

Ireland V Denmark in numbersIreland V Denmark in numbers

For Irish football, the stakes have rarely been higherFor Irish football, the stakes have rarely been higher

‘We know we are not a crap team, we are a strong team’‘We know we are not a crap team, we are a strong team’

Ireland V Denmark: Who’ll be right on the night?Ireland V Denmark: Who’ll be right on the night?


Lifestyle

‘Children of the Troubles’ recounts the largely untold story of the lost boys and girls of Northern Ireland, and those who died south of the border, in Britain and as far afield as West Germany, writes Dan Buckley.Children of the Troubles: Loss of lives that had barely begun

With Christmas Day six weeks away tomorrow, preparations are under way in earnest, writes Gráinne McGuinness.Making Cents: Bargains available on Black Friday but buyer beware!

From farming practices in Europe to forest clearances in the Amazon, Liz Bonnin’s new show seeks solutions to some of the damage done by the world’s appetite for meat, writes Gemma Dunn.New show seeks solutions to some of the damage done by the world’s appetite for meat

Louis Mulcahy reads in Cork this weekend for the Winter Warmer fest, writes Colette Sheridan.Wheel turns from pottery to poetry

More From The Irish Examiner