Johnny Ward: Horses do the talking for shrewd, young trainer Emmet Mullins

This has been an extraordinary year for Mullins and young owner Paul Byrne.

Jockey Derek O'Connor with trainer Emmet Mullins (left) and owner Michael Mee after winning the Monami Construction Flat Race onboard Russian Diamond during day one of the 2019 Summer Festival at Galway Racecourse.
Jockey Derek O'Connor with trainer Emmet Mullins (left) and owner Michael Mee after winning the Monami Construction Flat Race onboard Russian Diamond during day one of the 2019 Summer Festival at Galway Racecourse.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

IT IS GENUINELY frightening for many Flat trainers to summon thoughts of maidens next season that could involve Aidan, Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien all having a well-bred runner.

With the dad as strong as ever, Joseph making incredible strides towards being the biggest dual-purpose trainer in the world and Donnacha getting ready for his own shot at it, the possibilities are next to endless.

The dynasty on the jumping scene is of the Mullins variety. Paddy was a man before his time and three of his sons, Willie, Tom and Tony, have long-established training regimes.

Likely Patrick will be an excellent trainer in time, like his dad, whilst he, cousins Danny and David have enjoyed immense success as jockeys.

However, it is another cousin, Emmet, a son of George Mullins, who has shown himself to be perhaps the shrewdest of them all, and he has made little song and dance about it all.

This has been a quite extraordinary 12 months for Mullins and young owner Paul Byrne, a son of the late bookmaker Davy Byrne, a character of a vibrant betting ring of an era sadly bygone. Mullins and Byrne have become a deadly duo, evinced by the remarkable success of Fujimoto Flyer.

Mullins has already achieved some sensational figures. Since he started training in Ireland, his jumps strike-rate is 25%, amazing stuff in an environment dominated by his uncle and Gordon Elliott. In Britain, he has a 50% hit-rate and the bookmakers have ample war wounds.

Byrne has been a canny operator in buying and selling. He was responsible for steering Willie Mullins towards True Self in 2017; sold for a meagre £18,000 despite having won her only start, the Oscar-bred belied her pedigree to win seven more races, four on the Flat, three of them at Listed level, remarkable stuff for a filly by Oscar. Byrne also snapped up Rockyaboya, who won the lucrative Paddy Power at Leopardstown in 2013.

Da Dou Ron Ron, who changed hands for just £3,800, won her first start for Mullins and Byrne in July by 12 lengths at Uttoxeter.

Byrne bought into Fujimoto Flyer in mid-August. Her own back story illustrates Mullins’ outside-the-box thinking, exactly what makes he and Byrne tick: three years ago he went all the way to Japan to source three yearlings there, one of them Fujimoto Flyer.

By the time Byrne accepted a half-share, the filly had actually depreciated in value: she was a Flat maiden having lost all her seven races, rated 71. Two runs later, an 18-length maiden hurdle win and a Listed success by half that margin (but arguably more impressive) in Auteuil earlier this week, she skyrocketed in terms of value.

That Mullins and Byrne found that Auteuil race, restricted to three-year-old fillies, illustrates the scope of their planning. The filly, likely to be sold, is now worth in the region of €300,000.

Prior to Auteuil, Mullins was targeting a trip to America with Fujimoto Flyer because of an audacious and hugely successful jaunt last season. Mullins went there last October when saddling Tornado Watch to finish second behind Gordon Elliott’s Jury Duty in the American Grand National at Far Hills.

Tornado Watch, who changed yard earlier in his career when rated just 81 over hurdles, scooped €75,000 for finishing second to Jury Duty. He is already planning a return trip with a team of horses next month.

With Zero Ten a hugely exciting novice chaser, quite possibly a feasible contender for the Arkle in March, Mullins can greet every morning with vigour over the next few months. He won at Galway, where Mullins also ran Sneaky Getaway, now a three-figured Flat horse with big days ahead on the level and jumping.

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At 29 years of age, he has established himself as a top-class trainer with the world at his feet. Indeed, I attempted to get him on Off The Ball’s Friday Night Racing show recently. “No wouldn’t be for me sorry,” he replied.

His horses do the talking.

Thankfully, so have our tips here of late, with 20/1 Massa Lubrense coming good last weekend. This weekend in Ireland, they race at Navan and Saturday; on Sunday, the Listowel Festival commences.

Tonight at Kilbeggan, Betway goes 7/2 Wonderoftheworld in the Midland Breeders Supporting Kilbggan Beginners Chase but you may get slightly bigger near the off (6.20).

And at Navan, Anythingyouwantobe looks a really well-treated horse in the sprint handicap (2.20). She is probably not entirely straightforward but the daughter of Kingman could travel all over these and hopefully Chris Hayes can deliver her late.

I am not sure how Anythingyouwantobe got her name, nor why Emmet Mullins did not give it to one of his stock before her connections got the chance.

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Johnny Ward

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