Noble Yeats’ Grand National success at Aintree was a breakthrough moment for Emmet Mullins, and he is hoping 2023 can be even better, writes Tom Masters.
Yeats went off at 50/1 to deliver a longest odds victory at Aintree in nine years, and saw Mullins emulate his uncle Willie’s victory with Hedgehunter in 2005.
It came as something of a surprise to punters, but for Mullins himself, he had every belief that his seven-year-old would be right among the main contenders.
He said: “There is no doubt Noble Yeats’ win was the highlight of the season and it could easily be the highlight of my career to be honest.
“We always saw him as a National horse and definitely targeted the race, I suppose with the Grand National being the monster that it is, and there being so much hype around it, we might have got cold feet for the race and he might have been overlooked
“I didn’t exactly speak out, but I said the night before that if I’d had the two weeks of training before that race again, there wasn’t one day I would have changed, I would’ve done exactly the same thing again.
“But it was a truly amazing and special day and one I’ll never forget.”
The new season has begun in exactly the way Mullins dreamed it would, with Yeats' victory at Wexford, comfortably beating Gordon Elliott’s duo of Run Wild Fred and Hurricane Georgie.
It was already very much the plan to try to defend his crown at Aintree in April, but that victory has given Mullins plenty of encouragement as the season gets fully underway.
“He’ll definitely get an entry for the race again, it is going to be a tricky season, obviously going up in the weights, it is never going to be easy,” said Mullins.
“But it’s been great, just getting back into it with him and he got that win at Wexford.
“He jumped brilliantly that day and it’s really something to look forward to.
“There’s no plan really this year, it has to be very fluid and we’ll take it one day at a time.
“We want to get the most out of it and see what fits the bill when the races come around, if the horses aren’t ready at the time we can’t go anywhere, so you can’t plan too far ahead.”
Having grown up on the same yard as uncle Willie, with his father George also an amateur jockey and cousins Patrick and Danny both jockeys too, Mullins is certainly part of a family racing dynasty – something he has no doubt played a big part in his journey.
He added: “Of course it was a huge help being able to talk to Willie, I suppose I have grown up on that gallop and everything I learnt has been based on seeing thousands of horses being trained in Willie’s yard for 20 years.
“It has been an eye opener everyday, you always pick up something, but even riding, working and travelling for Willie, I’ve learnt an awful lot of things and it’s been a huge help.
“I would say that trainer’s relationships are generally the same as jockey’s relationships, everyone will be very friendly and congratulatory on winners and losers, but at the end of the day we all have the same job and we know how hard it is for each