David Mullins admits he’s still struggling to finding the right words to sum up how it feels to be one of of the youngest Grand National winning jockeys ever.
The 19-year-old steered the aptly named Mouse Morris-trained Rule The World to victory in Saturday’s Aintree spectacular and concedes the full extent of the achievement has yet to fully register.
“I haven’t found the right word for it yet but it’s still sinking in,” he said. “It’s something I couldn’t even have dared to dream of as a child going to Aintree watching the race. It’s an amazing, amazing feeling. It’s magical. I count myself as very lucky to even be riding in the race.”
Such has been the whirlwind nature of the past few days, it wasn’t until yesterday that Mullins got a chance to watch a re-run of the nine and a half minutes that propelled him to instant fame.
“I watched it back once this morning with dad (Tom),” Mullins said on 2FM’s Game On show. “He didn’t get to come over so I watched it with him this morning.
“Saturday took a lot of concentration. I was riding from fence to fence and alot of things do pass you by. Watching it back, you try to take it in and remember as much as you can.”
There was one heart-stopping moment where the dream was almost derailed.
Mullins recalled: “The fourth last, he got in a bit tight, he was starting to get tired — he was well entitled to after going nearly four miles at that stage — I landed up on his neck a bit. Thankfully, we stayed in tact. I suppose one mistake was always going to happen.”
The opportunity to ride Rule The World only came about after Bryan Cooper, Gigginstown’s retained jockey, opted to partner First Lieutenant.
Mullins said he has sympathy for the dilemma Cooper faced.
“Bryan had a tough decision. He could have picked Rule The World but he’d never won over fences. To get off First Lieutenant, a dual Grade One winner who he would have thought was sure to jump around — he couldn’t have an easy decision picking between them. Fortunately for me, I was on the right one.”
Saturday’s success was an emotional one for Morris after a testing year following the tragic death of his son, Christopher, last summer.
Mullins was delighted to play a part in proding such an uplifting moment and spoke about the warmth towards the veteran trainer during the homecoming celebrations in Fethard on Sunday night.
“I arrived back last night and went down to Fethard and the support there was amazing. It just shows how well liked he is. It was great to get it for Mouse.”
Coming from the most famous National Hunt family in Irish racing, a career in the saddle was always likely. However, the surname Mullins can be a double-edged sword.
“I get plenty of constructive criticism off them. There’s probably people out there thinking I do get the rides because of my second game but, hopefully, that’s not the reason.”
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