Willie Mullins and Paul Townend just champion again in Ireland
Willie Mullins paid tribute to his owners and staff after being crowned champion trainer for the 17th team on the final day of the Punchestown Festival.
It has been another memorable campaign for the master of Closutton, who in January sent out is 4,000th career winner and set a new record for the number of winners in a National Hunt season in Ireland when surpassing his previous best total of 202 at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival.
Highlights on home soil include winning the Irish Gold Cup with Galopin Des Champs and the BoyleSports Grand National with I Am Maximus, while the likes of State Man, El Fabiolo and Facile Vega were all multiple Grade One winners domestically.
He said: “To win the champion trainer title is the icing on another great season for our team
“Galopin Des Champs winning at the Dublin Racing Festival, and I am Maximus winning the Irish Grand National were two personal highlights for me.
“Winning titles like this wouldn’t be possible without our loyal owners who send us these wonderful horses. It’s a huge team effort at Closutton – our staff go above and beyond in all weathers and keep the show on the road so winning the champion trainer title is a tribute to everyone at home.”
Mullins’ number one rider Paul Townend picked up the champion jockey title for the fifth consecutive season and sixth time in all.
Townend reached the 100-winner mark for the season when steering Gaelic Warrior to success at Punchestown on Wednesday, his fourth career century, while the I A Maximus provided him with a first Irish Grand National triumph.
“I’m in a very privileged position, riding so many superstars for Willie Mullins,” said Townend.
“We had an unbelievable season, especially on the big days like Christmas, Dublin Racing Festival, the Fairyhouse Easter Festival and at Punchestown this week.
“It was a great thrill to win such an iconic race like the Irish Grand National and finally get on that special roll of honour with I Am Maximus. Galopin Des Champs winning the Irish Gold Cup and the Cheltenham Gold Cup was exceptional too.”
Mullins’ record-breaking son Patrick was crowned champion amateur for the 15th time, while Townend’s sister Jody picked up the champion lady amateur title for the third successive season.
Rising star Michael O’Sullivan began the 2022/23 season as a 7lb claiming amateur, but ended it as champion conditional with three Grade One winners to his name, including the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham aboard the hugely exciting Marine Nationale.
O’Sullivan, who is currently sidelined by a broken collarbone, said: “I’ve had a brilliant season. My partnership with Barry Connell and our Grade Ones together were the pinnacle.
“I can’t forget my first big winner as a professional at the Listowel Festival. I had a double on the day and I won a big handicap for Terence O’Brien (Magnor Glory) and a had winner for Mikey Kennedy (Presenting J) – my local festival for local people.
“I had a double the following week for Barry Connell in Roscommon, including my first Graded success on board Enniskerry. The treble at Cork on Easter Sunday was also special.”
For the 20th time and for the third season running, JP McManus was crowned champion owner.