HomeHorse RacingAlex Ferguson’s glowing praise for Willie Mullins

Alex Ferguson’s glowing praise for Willie Mullins


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Ferguson is no stranger to standing at the helm of one of the most successful operations in sport and was the manager who led Manchester United’s dominance in English football for 20 years.

His involvement in racing began on the Flat and he still has an involvement in that code, with Spirit Dancer a notable recent success having won the Bahrain International Trophy and the Neom Turf Cup over the winter.

Ferguson owns Spirit Dancer alongside Fred Done and Ged Mason, the latter of whom joins John Hales in making up the Ferguson-Mason-Hales trio that own both Protektorat and Monmiral.

Monmiral landed the Pertemps at 25-1 and Protektorat was a brilliant four-length winner of the Ryanair Chase, providing Ferguson with his first and then his second Cheltenham Festival winner in quick succession.

While Ferguson’s trainers, Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton, trained four winners and a single winner respectively, it was Willie Mullins who dominated the meeting with nine winners, six seconds and six thirds.

Among those winners was his 100th Cheltenham Festival victory, a landmark achievement that makes him the most successful trainer in the history of the fixture – a figure akin to the Ferguson of the racing world.

“What Willie Mullins is doing is fantastic, brilliant,” Ferguson said of the Closutton trainer.

“You can only admire the man.”

Ruby Walsh, former stable jockey to Mullins, identified the similarities between the role of football manager and trainer, saying: “It’s awesome, an incredible achievement as a manager, because that what he is, a sporting manager.

“He is like the CEO, his wife is the CFO, his son is the managing director and he’s doing it all.

“He’s just an incredible manager, that’s what he is and the sport is lucky to have him.

“If he was in any other sport they wouldn’t be telling him he was too dominant.

“He’s just an incredible manager, that’s what he is and the sport is lucky to have him.”

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