Willie Mullins, leading trainer at the previous four Cheltenham Festival’s, has lot a number of major stars after owners Gigginstown House Stud decided to take 60-horses from the trainers yard after a dispute over training fees.
Mullins has dominated the National Hunt Festival like no other over the past six-years sweeping claiming victories in all the major Grade One races with the exception of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where has finished runner-up on the last four occasions.
But after raising the training fees at his Closutton Yard, Gigginstown (Champion Owners in 2015/16 season) have decided to remove all of their horses. Mullins said on the move: “We’re parting company – it’s basically over fees, I imagine. I put up my fees for the first time in 10 years and Gigginstown chose not to pay them.
“That’s it, we’re just parting company. I’m not willing to try to maintain the standards I have (without putting the fees up), so that’s the way it is.”
There is no doubt it is a major blow for the Champion Trainer and despite training the likes of Faugheen, Annie Power and Douvan for Rich Ricci – he will miss having Ireland’s most prominent owners in his stable over the coming years.
Gordon Elliot to benefit from Gigginstown move ahead of 2016/17 National Hunt Season
The majority of the horses under Gigginstown ownership will be moved to the yard of Gordon Elliot, Mullins main rival for the Irish Champion Trainer title in 2016/17. Elliot has been the main Gigginstown trainer in recent years and claimed the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2016 for the powerful owners with Don Cossack.
Elliot has described it as a “massive boost” for his stable with the likes of Don Poli, Apples Jade and A Toi Phil set to join his Cullentra House Stables operation.
Don Poli is already a dual Cheltenham Festival winner having took the Martin Pipe Hurdle (2014) and the Grade One RSA Chase (2015) before finishing third in last season’s Gold Cup.
Apples Jade was the outstanding juvenile hurdler of 2015/16 taking three of her four races. The filly finished second to Ivanovich Gorbatov in the JCB Triumph Hurdle before emphatically turning the tables on her rival with a 41-length trouncing in the Grade One Juvenile Hurdle at the Aintree Grand National Festival.
Elliott said: “I’ve been told that I will get about 20 horses, including Don Poli, Apple’s Jade and Blow By Blow.
“Willie is a gentleman, a man I admire and look up to. This is obviously a big boost for us, another step up the ladder towards being champion trainer one day, that is what I hope.
“I am still realistic to know that Willie Mullins has so much ammunition but hopefully some day it will happen for me.”
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