McClean: Mullins news will increase competition
Racing pundit Donn McClean believes that end of Gigginstown House Stud's association with champion trainer Willie Mullins will herald in a new exciting era in Irish National Hunt racing.
Gigginstown House Stud, which is the banner under which aviation supremo Michael O’Leary sends out his runners, arrived at the decision to remove its horses from Mullins’ Closutton base due to an impending increase in training fees.
With Ireland’s champion trainer and champion owner parting company, an end to Mullins’ hegemony is now a possibility.
Sixty of Mullins former inmates, including Grade One winners Don Poli, Apple's Jade, Valseur Lido, Sir Des Champs and Blow By Blow, left Mullins' stables this morning, destined for the yards of Gordon Elliott, Mouse Morris, Henry de Bromhead, Joseph O'Brien and Noel Meade.
Speaking on RTÉ 2fm’s Game On, McClean said: “Looking at National Hunt racing as a whole, looking at it objectively, of course Willie Mullins is dominant.
“Whenever somebody is dominant, you’re natural inkling is to want the underdog to catch them and make it a competition.
"It’s an exciting move” – Donn McClean
“This is definitely going to help in that regard.
“Gordon Elliott has been training not that long and he’s the one hunting up Willie as number two in the trainers’ championship in Ireland.
“Joseph O’Brien is only training since last May and he’s already had a Group One success on the Flat.
Joseph’s got it in his genes, he’s bred for it, and he’s going to be a big, big factor in Irish racing – be it National Hunt or Flat.
“Looking at it from an overall perspective, it’s an exciting move.”
McClean had sympathy for both parties in the schism.
Of Mullins, he observed: “He said he hadn’t put up his fees in 10 years. This is the first fee increase in 10 years.
“For a multiple champion trainer, you have to think it’s justified for him to charge plenty.”
Assessing the decision taken by Gigginstown, McClean opined: “Michael and Eddie O’Leary run Gigginstown House ownership operation like a business and results are key.
“Willie has had the results, but obviously there’s a cost factor there as well.
“There’s an amount that they’re happy to pay and the increase in Willie’s fees tipped it over the edge.”