Willie Mullins looking to continue his Galway Festival domination

Trainer has made nine declarations for the opening day of Flat racing at Ballybrit

Champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins has made nine declarations for Monday's all-Flat opening programme at the 2021 Galway Festival including half a dozen alone for the day one feature.

Just like last year, pandemic restrictions mean the first two days of the festival will be all Flat followed by three days of National Hunt action.

Either way Mullins has become the one to beat at Galway having been crowned the festival’s top trainer for the last six years.

He has accumulated 61 winners in those six years, including a dozen each in 2017 and 2018.


The majority of those, 42, were over jumps but his strike rate on the level has been ultra-impressive too, including three-in-a-row in the Connacht Hotel Handicap between 2017-19.

Mullins’s son Patrick has a 15th go at winning a contest his father landed as a rider in 1985 on Pargan and teams up with Hook Up this time.

In contrast Aubrey McMahon, a back-to-back winner in 2017-18, goes for a third on Foveros.

Mullins runs Beret Rouge in the concluding amateur maiden, where Jody Townend will get the leg up.

It makes Patrick Mullins’s presence on Zero Ten, trained by his cousin, Emmet, hard to ignore and this former festival winner over fences could prove to be the one to beat.

Racing opens on Monday with a two-year-old maiden that the former 'King of Ballybrit' Dermot Weld has famously won 24 times.

He relies on the newcomer Duke De Sessa this time while Anchorage and I Am Magic renew rivalry again after filling the frame last time in Naas.

Jessica Harrington likes to bring smart two-year-olds to Ballybrit and although Adonis beat only two home at the Curragh on his debut, he was well supported in the betting and not a lot went right for him in the race.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column