Willie Mullins is responsible for half of the 66 Grade One entries at this weekend’s Dublin Racing Festival and that leaves legendary rider Ruby Walsh wondering where the opposition is to the champion jumps trainer.
Mullins hit another milestone when landing his 4,000th winner last weekend as he continues to go from strength to strength with Walsh comparing his dominance to that of the Dublin footballers (2011-2020) and the Limerick hurlers (2018 to present).
Walsh, widely regarded as the greatest jockey of all time, has been associated with the Closutton maestro for the past 26 years and is still a key part of the team since hanging up his saddle in 2019, but he doesn’t see the superiority of the 16-time champion National Hunt trainer as a bad thing.
“Of course you would love the competition to be more,” Walsh said of the Grade One entries for the two-day Leopardstown bonanza this weekend.
“But do you blame Dublin for winning six All-Irelands in a row? Is it their fault or were they just better than the opposition?
“Do you blame Kilkenny or Limerick for their dominance in hurling now? Was AP (McCoy) bad for jump racing? He won 20 jockey championships in a row and had them all won by September.
“When I looked at it he was the level that the rest of us had to get to. When you look at Willie and where he is in jump racing, Gordon (Elliott), Henry (de Bromhead) and a few more are closing the gap. He worked his way to where he is. He wasn’t handed it.
“He started in Closutton with a handful of horses and worked his way up. I know he had a great background in it in learning from his father but he’s worked his way to where he is now.”
How does Walsh feel that competitiveness in the training ranks could be increased or the playing field levelled?
“That’s a big question. I don’t really know what the answer is. I’ve worked for Willie since I was 17. You just look at it and you look at the growth of the place and I admire it, although everybody doesn’t,” Walsh said.
“Like, 66 entries is low for the (eight) Grade Ones (this weekend) and that probably points to the question of where are all the horses gone? To be fair to Willie, I don’t think looking at his yard and the races that are here there could be any more horses entered.
“The biggest question to me is ‘where are the rest of the horses?’ if Willie has 33.”
Racing TV is showing every race live from the Dublin Racing Festival. Visit racingtv.com/drf for details of a special €12 a month offer for this weekend only.