Saturday 21 October 2017

Ruby Walsh: Willie Mullins will need a miracle to win trainers' title

18 April 2017; Jockey Ruby Walsh in conversation with trainer Willie Mullins after winning the Glascarn Handicap Hurdle on Thomas Hobson during the Fairyhouse Easter Festival at Fairyhouse Racecourse in Ratoath, Co Meath. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
18 April 2017; Jockey Ruby Walsh in conversation with trainer Willie Mullins after winning the Glascarn Handicap Hurdle on Thomas Hobson during the Fairyhouse Easter Festival at Fairyhouse Racecourse in Ratoath, Co Meath. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Ruby Walsh believes Willie Mullins needs a "Miracle of Punchestown" if he is to retain the Irish trainers' championship.

Mullins currently trails Gordon Elliott by around 390,000 euro ahead of the crucial five-day Punchestown Festival, which begins next Tuesday.

Walsh told the Irish Examiner: "I think it has been an amazing season for Gordon and Willie.

"Gordon's record in the big handicaps through the season has been incredible.

But I also think it's testament to Willie, to lose 60 horses in October, horses who had been through pre-season and were nearly ready to run, to still operate at a 37 per cent strike-rate and to train the number of winners that he has.

"In golfing terms, Willie is probably six down with seven to play.

"He needs to birdie everything, and, possibly, pick up an eagle or two along the way.

"But, in all sports, there have been miracle comebacks. Be it the Super Bowl this year, Liverpool 3-0 three down to Milan at half-time in a European Cup final, Barcelona out of sight behind PSG and, to follow the golf theme, there was the Miracle in Medinah.

"If Willie overtakes Gordon, it will be the Miracle of Punchestown."

Walsh continued: "Between the laws of averages and the percentage of horses that will win, will fall, have bad luck, or underperform, Willie, basically, needs them all to win. But that just doesn't tend to happen.

"As well as the leading fancies, the second and third strings will have to perform.

"And there are four 100,000 euro handicaps, and Willie will have to win two of them, and keep Gordon at bay.

"We'll do our best, and throw everything we can at it. There'll be no inch given but, at the end of the day, luck has to come into it, and we probably need too much luck this week.

"Whatever happens, it will be a brilliant week for National Hunt fans."

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