Willie Mullins reaches mega milestone as Bronn claims Fairyhouse Beginners Chase
The master of Closutton - who began training in 1988 having served as assistant to both his father Paddy and to Jim Bolger - has become one of the most dominant names in National Hunt racing and is a 16-time champion trainer in his native Ireland.
The most successful handler at the Cheltenham Festival with a record 88 winners at the Prestbury Park showpiece, Mullins, 66, sent out his first winner at Thurles in 1988 and has won most of the major prizes both on home soil and in the UK during his 30-plus year career in the training ranks. A winner of the Grand National with Hedgehunter in 2005, Energumene ensured he had a clean sweep of all of the championship races at the Festival when landing the Champion Chase in 2022. His first Festival winner came when Tourist Attraction won the 1995 Supreme Novices' Hurdle and he has gone on to win the Cheltenham opener a further six times, while his name will always be synonymous with the Champion Bumper, a race he has trained the winner of on a remarkable occasions. Other notable names to pass through Closutton include dual Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo, two-time Champion Hurdle hero Hurricane Fly, Faugheen, Florida Pearl and the all-conquering Quevega - the six-time Mares' Hurdle winner. Sent off the 2-9 favourite, the Daryl Jacob-ridden Bronn was given a scare by Grandero Bello but got there with a neck to spare. "It was great to be a very small part of history," said Jacob. "No words can really describe how good a man Willie is and what he has achieved. To be a small part of that history is fantastic." On the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede-owned winner he added: "He doesn't do a whole lot in front and was looking around an awful lot. "I thought I had him beaten comfortably going to the last, but he started pulling up a bit from the back of the last with me. He's toughed it out well. There is more room for improvement with his jumping, he's getting better."
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