How many times has Willie Mullins been leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival?
William Peter ‘Willie’ Mullins is, of course, the son of Paddy Mullins, the legendary trainer best remembered for saddling Dawn Run to win the Champion Hurdle in 1984 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1986. Indeed, Willie Mullins worked as assistant trainer to his father and another Irish giant, Coolcullen handler Jim Bolger, before taking out a training licence in his own right in 1988.
Willie Mullins followed in his father’s footsteps by winning the Irish National Hunt Trainers’ Championship for the first time in 2000/01. He has been the perennial Irish champion trainer since 2007/08 and, at the time of writing, tops the table once again in 2021/22, with over €581,000 in hand of his nearest rival, Gordon Elliott.
As far as the Cheltenham Festival is concerned, Mullins saddled his first winner, Tourist Attraction, in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 1995 and has since become the most successful trainer in the history of the March showpiece, with 78 winners. Outright, he is the leading trainer in the history of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, Broadway Novices’ Chase, Champion Bumper, Ryanair Chase, Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, Martin Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle and Golden Miller Novices’ Chase. Mullins is also, jointly, the leading trainer in the history of the County Handicap Hurdle. Mullins has won the leading trainer award at the Cheltenham Festival eight times, including the last three in a row, in 2019, 2020 and 2021.