Mullins’s trip for fast ground pays off

Blackstairmountain the first European-trained winner of lucrative Nakayama Grand Jump

Willie Mullins became a the first European trainer to saddle a winner in the Nakayama Grand Jump on Saturday. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Willie Mullins became a the first European trainer to saddle a winner in the Nakayama Grand Jump on Saturday. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Willie Mullins had to go to the other side of the world to get fast ground but it paid off in style in Japan yesterday, when Blackstairmountain landed the hugely lucrative Nakayama Grand Jump under Ruby Walsh.

The 25-1 Irish outsider became the first European trained winner of Japan’s most prestigious steeplechase and scooped a first prize of over half a million Euro.

It was Walsh’s first winner outside of Europe and Blackstairmountain had half a length in hand of Rikai Kurofome after reaching the front at the last obstacle over the figure-of-eight track outside Tokyo.

“He likes the fast ground. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to have that in Ireland the last two summers so we came to Japan for the firm ground,” Walsh said.

It was the latest international success for Mullins and Ireland’s champion trainer pointed to a warm-up defeat a few weeks previously as crucial to the weekend’s victory.

“The experience gained from his previous run was invaluable and both the horse and Ruby learned a lot from it,” he said.

It was the biggest Irish success in Japanese racing since Stannera won the Japan Cup on the flat in 1983.