Legendary trainer 'a family man first and foremost'
'He was sort of a father figure ... someone you always looked up to'
TOP racehorse trainers paid tribute yesterday to Paddy Mullins, describing the legendary trainer as a "father figure" in the racing business.
After a 52-year career, the former trainer died peacefully yesterday morning at the age of 91. Mr Mullins, a farmer's son, became hugely successful in horse racing, creating a legacy that was passed down and continues to this day through his family.
He was the father of champion trainer Willie Mullins, his other son Tom also trains and he was the grandfather of champion amateur Patrick Mullins.
Mr Mullins is also survived by his wife, Maureen, daughter Sandra, and other son, George, nieces and nephews and grandchildren.
Tributes were paid to him last night as a "family man" and a trainer who everyone "looked up to" because of his achievements.
His son, Willie, told the Irish Independent his dad gave his sons a "great start in life" which they were "thankful for".
"Growing up, our house was always a fun place to be. There was always something going on because the business was growing all the time. We were lucky to be associated with it."
He said his father should be remembered as a "great trainer" but also as a man "who looked after his family". "He had a very successful career but he was a family man first and foremost."
The trainer's first winner was Flash Parade in the La Touche Memorial Cup at Punchestown in April 1953.
Mr Mullins trained plenty of high-class jumpers and flat horses in his illustrious career. He is best known for his feats with the mare Dawn Run, the only horse to have won the Champion Hurdle (1984) and the Gold Cup (1986) at the Cheltenham Festival. However, it was Hurry Harriet who gave Mullins the "biggest thrill of his life", according to his children.
"I think he was very proud of training Hurry Harriet to win the Champion Stakes at Newmarket," said Willie Mullins.
Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said he was "saddened" to hear of the death of Mr Mullins. He said "the performances of his horses on the track spoke loudly of the talents of the quiet man of Irish racing ... the scenes at Cheltenham will long live in memory. "
The year 2003 was particularly memorable for Mr Mullins, with Vintage Tipple giving him his first classic winner. He also won the Galway Plate with Nearly A Moose that year -- 17 years after he had the same success with Boro Quarter.
Top racehorse trainer Ted Walsh knew Mr Mullins "all his life". "I knew him from when I was nine or ten.
"He was sort of a father figure in racing for fellows like me. He was someone who you always looked up to because he achieved so much. He was a man of great talents, a self-made man," he added.
"He had a great partner all his life in Maureen. He was his own man and he always done everything according to Paddy -- the way he thought it should be done."
Mr Mullins, who lived in Gorebridge, Co Kilkenny, passed away peacefully at 7am yesterday. His removal to the Church of the Holy Trinity in Goresbridge will take place tonight at 7.30pm. His funeral Mass is at 11am tomorrow.