Horse racing has never been plain sailing and there have always been bumps in the road when it comes down to the welfare of its participants, whether they are human or equine.
Inevitably pressures take their toll and eventually something has to give. The net result being that they leave the sport for good.
On that very theme, news came in this week of two Aintree associated retirements – one human, one equine, so let’s take a further look at the pair of them.
David Mullins Retires
Grand National-winning jockey David Mullins announced his retirement from race riding at the tender age of 24.
Mullins was just 19 when he partnered the Mouse Morris-trained Rule The World to victory in the 2016 Grand National. He also clocked up nine Grade Ones victories in his short career.
He had the pleasuring of steering top class horses such as Nichols Canyon, Al Boum Photo, Kemboy and Bellshill into the winner’s enclosure.
Riding primarily for his father Tom and his uncle Willie, Mullins ended his time with 211 winners to his name.
Mullins said he had been trying for the last year to 18 months to get out of the race riding with a view to concentrating on the sales side of things. He mentioned that he had bought Court Maid for €1,800 and that she had gone on to win eight times now for his father, including landing a €120,000 race last year.
With an eye like that, David Mullins is going to be an invaluable asset to the Mullins family racing dynasty. It only seems inevitable that he will spot and buy the Grade One winners of the future.
Farewell Walk In The Mill
Considered a live contender for the cancelled Aintree Grand National of 2020, the Robert Walford-trained Walk In The Mill has been retired. In many respects it was an indirect consequence of the pandemic.
A dual winner of the Becher Chase, the decision was made in the light of him pulling up in the Warwick Chase earlier this month.
On top of falling at the Chair at Aintree in early December in his bid to win the Becher for the third year running, Walford decided the time was right to pull up stumps with him.
The eleven-year-old will go back to live with his owner Baroness Harding in his retirement. It will be well deserved after winning six of his 30 races and amassing over £307,000 in prize money.
After being in the balance for much of last week due to the winter weather, Haydock got the green light on Saturday and gave us some rather informative results.
Gold Cup contender?
The Peter Marsh Chase oh so often provided us with Gold Cup contenders galore in years gone by, but not so much in recent times.
However on Saturday the Venetia Williams-trained Royale Pagaille won doing handstands in the 3m 1½f contest and had many wondering whether he could actually be a live Gold Cup contender this season?
Bookmakers reacted by slashing the seven-year-old from odds of 40/1 to a top priced 12/1 with bet365*, and his possible participation in the blue-riband event has sparked a lot of ante-post betting interest in the race.
Owner Rich Ricci and Venetia Williams will no doubt have a lot to ponder over the next few weeks.
Elsewhere on the Haydock card…
- Silver Hallmark isn’t entered in any of the novice chases at the Cheltenham Festival and will probably head to Aintree’s Grand National meeting instead.
- Faivoir claimed a last-gasp victory in the Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle, gaining a 33/1 quote for the Supreme itself.
- Navajo Pass upset the odds when beating the returning Buveur D’Air in The New One Hurdle. Buveur D’Air’s price for this year’s Champion Hurdle doubled from 10/1 to 20/1 and Navajo Pass will head to Aintree instead.
- Tritonic received quotes of 12/1 with bet365* for the Triumph Hurdle after winning on his hurdling debut.
- Dan Skelton hasn’t decided whether to go for the Mares’ Hurdle or the Stayers’ Hurdle with his impressive winning mare Roksana yet.
- First Flow gave Kim Bailey his first Grade One win since 1995 and is now a 14/1 chance for the Champion Chase.
* Betting odds correct at the time of writing. All odds are subject to change.