Mulvany admits racing programme might require 'complete overhaul'

Michael Mulvany (right)

Michael Verney

Sportspeople face more questions than answers amid the coronavirus crisis given the uncertainty about when competition will resume, but things are even more complicated for trainers right now.

Take Michael Mulvany, for example. The Meath trainer was on the mark in a valuable handicap with In From The Cold, owned by his father Larry, on the opening day of the Flat season at Naas nine days ago but he has been left out in the cold ever since like many others.

The Kells handler is not one of the bigger hitters but he regularly has his string ready to hit the ground running at the start of the season, although their gallop has been halted before it commenced this year.

The prospect of not racing until April 19, and realistically beyond that, because of the COVID-19 outbreak is a "major concern" for Mulvany and all involved in the racing industry given the thoroughbreds in their care and the work which they require every day.

"The horses have to be looked after and we are carrying on exercising them as best we can. All we can do is continue exercising horses and keeping them fit," Mulvany says.

"If we put a date on it, say the start of June, then trainers could make definite plans. I'd imagine when racing does start back again it will be behind closed doors but how long can that be maintained if there's no betting shops open to finance it?

"A lot of people will be under pressure keeping staff and it may come to that as owners will find it hard to pay bills. If this continues for a while, there will have to be a complete overhaul of the racing programme. It will affect everyone."

Mulvany has been training since 2005 with the family-run operation mixing their time between horses and cattle farming, but it hasn't dented their success with a steady increase in visits to the winner's enclosure.

"Every year we have been improving and getting more winners. We are a real family operation, but we're too big to ride work so Joey Murray and Kevin Smith both come in regularly to ride out for me," he explains.

"They are good jockeys and have been with me for a few years and we also have Gary Carroll.

"We do the mucking out and the feeding, the general maintenance and bringing them racing. My brother Laurence is a big part of the team.

"My nephew, Jamie O'Sullivan, is a farrier and he also rides out, while my own son Larry also gives us a dig-out. We have a big farm of land with cattle as well so there is always plenty of work to be done."

In these unique circumstances, where everyone has a part to play, what better way to get the job done than with family?