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Willie Mullins Cheltenham Festival winners - Five of the best horses trained by the Champion trainer

Five of Willie Mullins' greatest Cheltenham Festival winners.

Find out who makes the list of the best of Willie Mullins' Cheltenham Festival winners as we look at five of the best horses trained by the Champion trainer.


In recent years, Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins has become synonymous with Cheltenham Festival winners, and since saddling his first Festival winner in 1995 when Tourist Attraction won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle under Mark Dwyer the County Carlow maestro has rarely left Prestbury Park empty-handed.

Mullins has saddled a grand total of 41 winners since that first success as of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, but with the ammunition afforded to him through his association with Rich Ricci, it is surely only a matter of time before he becomes the winning-most trainer in Festival history. 

A winner of four Champion Trainer titles, winning the accolade in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015, Mullins is a very short price to land a fifth title. And with the likes of Douvan, Un De Sceaux, Vautour, Don Poli, Min and Annie Power among a powerful team who will head to Cheltenham in March, few would back against him from collecting.

Notwithstanding his current crop of big guns, we take a look back at five fantastic horses that have firmly established Willie Mullins amongst the ranks of Cheltenham legends!

FLORIDA PEARL

A brilliant chaser who spent eight seasons at the top level, his winning haul included top flight success in the King George VI Chase, four Irish Hennessy wins which included three wins in succession from 1999-2001. His fourth win in the race came in 2004 when beating Le Coudray in what would turn out to be his final race.

Perhaps most notably though, the Florida Son gelding won twice at the Cheltenham Festival, firstly when winning the 1997 Champion Bumper, and then following up the next year with success in the Royal & Sunalliance Chase where he beat Escartefigue. He contested four Gold Cups, with his best finish coming behind Looks Like Trouble in 2000.

Florida Pearl sadly died in 2012, but in a top-class career his 33 career starts yielded 16 wins as well as eight placed efforts, accumulating just short of £900,000.


The late Florida Pearl won twice at the Cheltenham Festival.

QUEVEGA

The French-bred mare began her career in her country of birth, where she won three times for trainer Bertrand de Watrigant prior to arriving at Willie Mullins.

And it was for the County Carlow maestro where she reall made her mark, winning on her first two starts at Punchestown and Gowran Park, before being fast-tracked to Grade One company and the Champion 4YO Hurdle where he beat only one home behind Won In The Dark.

Beaten next time at Auteil in the Prix Alain Du Breil, the Robin Des Champs mare resumed winning ways with a success at Punchestown before heading to the 2009 Cheltenham Festival where she would begin her record-breaking sequence in winning the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle for the first time.

The classy performer would go on to win the race a further five times, and her six successes saw her become the first horse in history to win at six consecutive Festivals. The mare would also win four times at the Punchestown Festival with successes in the World Series Hurdle in 2010, 2011 , 2012 and 2013.

Having lost out to Jetson in her bid for a fifth World Series Hurdle, going down by just over one length, she was immediately retired by Willie Mullins.

Her 20 career runs for Mullins yielded 13 wins and career earnings of just over £500,000; some critics though have suggested that Quevega could perhaps have scaled greater heights had she been given the chance to prove her mettle more against the boys.


The record-breaking Quevega didn't race often, but when she did she invariably won.

CHAMPAGNE FEVER ()

The galloping grey Stowaway gelding was surprisingly beaten on his Rules debut in a Leopardstown bumper on Boxing Day 2011, but having won his next start at Fairyhouse he headed to the Cheltenham Festival where he landed the Champion Bumper in good style.

Having added the Irish equivalent the following month, he found Jezki too strong in the Royal Bond the following season, but went on to beat that rival in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in the March before again losing to Jessie Harrington’s charge at the Punchestown Festival.

He has perhaps never quite the heights promised over fences following a bloodless first win at Punchestown over the larger obstacles on his chase debut, and he took some time to get back to winning ways after a shuddering blunder in the Racing Post Novice Chase on Boxing Day 2013.

Caught on the line by the surprise winner, Western Warhorse, in the 2014 Arkle Trophy, he has won just  twice since his last win with victories in the Clonmel Oil Chase and in the Red Mills Chase, and he hasn’t been seen since finishing a disappointing fifth behind Felix Yonger in the Boylesports Champion Chase in April 2015.

A winner of nine of his 20 starts, placing a further six times, the Rich Ricci-owned gelding has amassed just over £300,000, while injury has curtailed his 2015/16 season.


Champagne Fever hasn't quite hit the heights expected over fences, but is top-class at his best.

HURRICANE FLY

Perhaps the most famous of Mullins’ horses, the superstar hurdler has given the racing world so many magical memories throughout an illustrious career that saw the Montjeu gelding register a record-breaking 22 Grade One successes.

However, of those 22 wins at the top level, only two came at Cheltenham where he was arguably never at his formidable best. Both those wins though came in the Champion Hurdle, which he won in 2011 and 2013. He finished third to Rock On Ruby in 2012, and was fourth behind Jezki in 2014.

In 2015, despite advancing years, he finished third behind Faugheen, landing a famous 1-2-3 for Willie Mullins, whose Arctic Fire finished second behind the Rich Ricci-owned winner.

Leopardstown though was perhaps his favourite track, and the Montjeu gelding was unbeaten at that venue, winning ten of his Grade Ones there which included five Irish Champion Hurdles.

The French-bred star was retired after a sub-par run at Auteil in June 2015 when trailing home in sixth behind Un Temps Pour Tout.
 A stellar hurdling career saw him race 32 times, winning on 24 occasions and placing a further six times to amass career earnings just short of £2million.


Hurricane Fly amassed 22 Grade One successes under Mullins' care before his retirement, including two Champion Hurdles.

THOUSAND STARS

The evergreen Grey Risk gelding is perhaps one of the unsung heroes of the Mullins operation, grinding away in the background behind more illustrious stablemates. However there is little denying that the tough-as-teak grey is a classy performer in his own right.

Trained in France for much of his early career, he arrived at Mullins’ County Carlow yard in 2007 and although he took some time to register his first success for the trainer, he had shown smart form prior to getting off the mark in a minor event at Killarney.

A tough handicapper, he exceeded expectations when landing the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle under Katie Walsh at the 2010 Festival, beating Arcalis by three lengths after which he was pitched into Grade One company in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle where he ran a blinder to finish third to Hurricane Fly.

He became a regular in the top Graded races in the UK and Ireland, as well as being a regular raider back over the English Channel where Auteil was a particular happy hunting ground. The multiple Grade One winner even had the audacity to take on the mighty Big Buck’s who was at the peak of his powers, finishing fourth to the multiple World Hurdle runner in the 2012 renewal.

And he added another Grade One success to his impressive CV with a battling win back at Auteil in the Grand Prix d’Automne in November 2015, beating Aubusson by a nose.

A winner of 11 of his 54 races over hurdles, placing a further 19 times, the Grey Risk gelding has amassed more than £1million in career earnings and continues to ply his trade as a twelve-year old.


The tough Thousand Stars is one of Mullins' stalwarts.

Mullins has trained others who could conceivably have made the list, the likes of Alexander Banquet who won the 1998 Champion Bumper and gave Ruby Walsh his first Cheltenham Festival winner, and who later won an Irish Hennessy; and Cousin Vinny, who also won the Champion Bumper, and later appeared in both the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, and the World Hurdle could easily have features amongst a long list of big names to have tasted success at the 'greatest show on earth'.

Of course, today with the plethora of top-class horses currently at his disposal, the likes of Douvan, Un De Sceaux, Vautour and Faugheen could surely join the ranks of these famous five horses, and may even surpass some of them in the years to come!


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Willie Mullins Cheltenham Festival winners - Five of the best horses trained by the Champion trainer

Find out who makes the list of the best of Willie Mullins' Cheltenham Festival winners as we look at five of the best horses trained by the Champion trainer.

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