Willie Mullins, an Irish-based trainer responsible for a major string of jumps horses, is undoubtedly one of the most successful trainers in the thoroughbred game.
He takes all before him not just in Ireland, but also in Britain within that sphere of racing. Winner of dozens of Cheltenham Festival races, Mullins completed a unique set at the big meeting in England last week.
Despite winning some of those Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 events multiple times, one had eluded him. His Energumene put that right however in the Cotswolds and it seems to have focused the camp’s mind elsewhere.
Could the Melbourne Cup now be firmly on the agenda?
Vauban a Major Contender
One of Willie Mullins’ incredible TEN Cheltenham Festivals scorers last week was a horse named Vauban.
Bought by owner Rich Ricci out of France and sent to Mullins, the gelded son of Galway went into the festival on the back of a Grade 1 success over hurdles.
Sent off the 6/4 favourite, Vauban was imperious and did the job in fine style in the top-level Triumph Hurdle. After the race, the question was asked by TV pundits; is Vauban a Melbourne Cup type?
When that question was put to former jump jockey champion and Willie Mullins pal Ruby Walsh, made an unfortunately snarky reply which appeared to degrade the Cup and flat racing as a whole.
Walsh intimated that when Mullins has sent horses to major flat races in the past, that he’s done so because they are not good enough to jump at the top level! Such a comment was unnecessary perhaps and hopefully tongue-in-cheek but, in any event, it was proven wrong when the owner spoke up.
Rich Ricci declared that when Vauban was bought in France, he was purchased as a ‘dual-purpose’ performer. Despite winning a top-class race in the National Hunt sphere, flat racing was always possible.
That has opened the door wide open for Mullins to have a pop at a race he clearly fancies on November 1.
Trainer’s Son Offers Further Clues
Accomplished rider Patrick Mullins, son of trainer Willie, has offered more hope this week.
After Energumene’s win in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the great trainer has completed a unique set. Mullins has now won all of the Cheltenham Festival championship races. That has prompted people to ask what can keep him motivated and what’s next on the wish list.
Luckily for us, Patrick Mullins has spoken publicly to say that the Melbourne Cup is at the top of that list.
Max Dynamite has already come close for the team in Melbourne and their Simeon was also not far away. Wicklow Brave and Thomas Hobson have also come and gone, but Vauban is perhaps seen as their best chance yet. If he shows up in November, take note!
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