Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Seamus Mullins: Never Underestimate the Power of a Cousin

Seamus Mullins
If his surname seems familiar, Seamus Mullins is, in fact, a cousin of perennial Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins. Seamus began his career in racing as assistant trainer to the late Toby Balding in 1981. He subsequently joined Jim Old and the late Jimmy Fitzgerald, trainer of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Forgive’N Forget, before setting up his own point-to-point training business in 1985. Seamus was also an accomplished amateur rider, famously winning the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Boreceva, trained by Toby Balding, in 1989.

He started training with just one horse, a venerable maiden point-to-pointer, but gradually built up his business over the next few years. In 1991, he moved to Hatherden Stables, near Andover, Hampshire and took out his first public training licence in 1991. Seamus saddled his first official winner as a trainer, The Mrs – a mare formerly trained by his uncle, the late Paddy Mullins – in a novices’ hurdle at Nottingham in November, 1992.

However, in the early days, Seamus found winners hard to come by. In 1995, he moved to Wilsford Stables – part of the Lake Estate, owned by the Bailey family – in Amesbury, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, but it wasn’t until the 1997/98 National Hunt season that he reached double figures. In fact, that season he saddled 17 winners and earned just under £89,000 in total prize money.

It’s fair to say that Seamus hasn’t made too many headlines over the years, but he has trained or two “Saturday” horses, as Paul Nicholls likes to call them. In 2004, he saddled Kentford Grebe to win the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Final at Newbury and See You Sometime to win the Noel Novices’ Chase at Windsor. Two years later, See You Sometime also won the Cotswold Chase at Wincanton and the United Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot and, two years after that, Strawberry won the Mares Only Novices’ Chase Final at Newbury.

More recently, his best horse has been Chesterfield, a Pivotal gelding he “inherited” from John Ferguson, when the latter handed in his training licence to become chief executive and racing manager to Godolphin. In April, 2017, Chesterfield won the valuable Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle on Grand National Day at Aintree and completed a notable double for conditional jockey Daniel Sansom when following up in the QTS Champion Hurdle at Ayr two weeks later. In fact, Seamus is already enjoying his most successful season ever, numerically, in 2017/18, having saddled 28 winners and earned over £200,000 in total prize money for the second year running.