Scottish Daily Mail

Ryanair take off after row with Mullins

- By MARCUS TOWNEND Racing Correspond­ent

WILLIE MULLINS’S seemingly impregnabl­e position as Ireland’s champion trainer has been significan­tly weakened after Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary removed 60 horses from his stable in a shock move. Mullins confirmed the split was caused by O’Leary, who runs his horses under the Gigginstow­n Stud banner, refusing to pay increased training fees. Mullins has been champion trainer in Ireland for the past nine seasons. He won the 2015-16 title by securing close to £3.8million in prize-money, £1.7m more than Gordon Elliott. Gigginstow­n, the champion owner for a fourth time, contribute­d just over £86k to the tally. Mullins (below), speaking to

At The Races, said: ‘I put up my fees for the first time in 10 years and Gigginstow­n chose not to pay them. I’m not willing to try to maintain the standards I have [without putting the fees up], so that’s the way it is. Everyone that comes into my yard is treated the same. ‘We’ve evolved our methods of training, which obviously costs a lot, and we’re not prepared to sacrifice that. Whoever gets the horses will be a big challenge to me being champion trainer. They are a fantastic team of horses.’ Elliott, Mullins’s closest rival, is expected to be the main beneficiar­y of the falling out. Gigginstow­n are already his main owner and he trains their 2016 Gold Cup winner Don Cossack. Last night he said: ‘With horses like Don Poli and Apple’s Jade, whatever I get will be a massive boost to us.’ Other trainers to benefit are Henry de Bromhead, Noel Meade, Joseph O’Brien and Mouse Morris, who trained Rule The World to win the Grand National in their colours in April. A statement released by O’Leary read: ‘As Gigginstow­n House Stud has been unable to reach agreement with Willie Mullins on an increase in training fees, we have agreed — with considerab­le regret — to move the Gigginstow­n horses to alternativ­e trainers for the coming 2016-17 season.’ Gigginstow­n have a history of switching trainers. Earlier this year they ended their backing of both Sandra Hughes and Tony Martin, blaming poor results. Mullins still has the cream of his string with Douvan, Faugheen and Vautour, all owned by Rich Ricci. With other owners including Graham Wylie, JP McManus and Simon Munir, Mullins will not be short of ammunition.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom