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Cheltenham Festival Preview: The Mullins Dynasty

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Great job this – The Royal Opera House for the Crabbies Grand National weights on one day and County Carlow in Ireland the next (just don’t tell the wife I spent 100 days away from home last year!) but it’s the people you meet that makes it even more special.

London – and a chat with Peter Eaton, Vice Chairman of Halewood International, the parent company of the National sponsors. Passionate, amazingly down to earth for one in such a position and the sort of person that makes you feel the future of the National is in the best hands- if only he hadn’t asked me to tip a winner.

Then to the home of Ireland’s Champion Trainer Willie Mullins- the standard bearer of one of Ireland’s great racing dynasties. Trying to keep the British and Irish press happy when they attack as an organised movement is no easy task – everything done with a helpful smile – supported by his wife Jackie and hugely impressive son Patrick – Ireland’s Champion Amateur.

But someone else stole the show – the arrival of Willie’s mother, whose late husband Paddy was the patriarch of an extraordinary dynasty. Paddy was almost awarded Sainthood by his adoring fellow Countryman after the mare Dawn Run’s unforgettable Gold Cup glory- the highlight of a string of big wins.

She’s the sort of person you could listen to all day- and reminds of you of what this amazing sport means to so many.

‘I am going to Cheltenham on the Sunday before and I can’t wait’ she tells me with a big smile.

That’s the thing about the Cheltenham Festival out here – everyone wants a part of it.

Great job this – especially when you meet people like Mrs Mullins.


By Mike Vince