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There's no way back after the split with O'Leary, says Mullins

By Luke Byrne

Published 29/09/2016

Ten-strong: Michael O’Leary dominates the Champion Chase entry list at Down Royal
Ten-strong: Michael O’Leary dominates the Champion Chase entry list at Down Royal

Champion horse trainer Willie Mullins doesn't see either side backing down in the disagreement which saw Michael O'Leary withdraw 60 of his horses from the Mullins stable.

It emerged yesterday that Ireland's most successful trainer and the leading owner of jump horses have gone their separate ways.

A decision by Mullins to increase his fees by 10% drove a wedge between him and the Ryanair chief executive's Gigginstown House Stud, when O'Leary refused to pay.

O'Leary has kept quiet about the split. But a statement issued through Ryanair thanked Mullins and his team at Closutton for the many grade one races they won together over seven years.

"We have agreed - with considerable regret - to move the Gigginstown horses to alternative trainers for the coming 2016-17 season," it said.

Renowned trainer Mullins said the only issue behind the split was money - but suggested it was unlikely to be reversed.

"I don't even want to comment on that. It's done as far as I'm concerned - it's done. And I can't see Michael moving, I can't see me moving, so that's the way it is. What's done is done and that's it," he said.

Mullins said he had not raised his fees for nine years and it seemed O'Leary wanted to change the rules regarding treating all clients of the stable equally.

"I took a stand and that was always the way. Everyone that comes into my yard is treated the same," said Mullins.

"And that's the way it was from day one when Michael came. I told him that those were the rules. I think he was maybe asking to change the rules a bit."

The trainer said he hoped the decision to withdraw the horses by one of his biggest clients did not result in job losses for his stable.

"I hope not, we have to look at how things are going in the next few days. But I hope I don't see any immediate job losses," he said.

"Lots of people have indicated that they're sending horses and we will see how it goes.

"I have a great team and I've always said that. And I'm hoping that I can keep it together."

Mullins said he wrote to O'Leary months ago to tell him of the increase.

"Basically, it's very simple. We haven't put up our fees for nine years and we have to do it," he said.

"Michael decided he was going to give me so much for training his horses and I thought to maintain the standards we have, I couldn't do it for that.

"He said he wasn't going to pay and I said well, if you're not going to pay you can't have horses. So, that was it. He made an offer and I refused it.

"It was purely over fees. I mean we didn't have any other problems." Mullins said he had a big yard with a big wage bill and rising costs.

Paddy Power make Gordon Elliott their new favourite to be champion trainer for the first time at 8-11, with Mullins available at evens. Elliott's arrivals will include Gold Cup third Don Poli.

He said: "I've been told that I will get about 20 horses, including Don Poli, Apple's Jade and Blow By Blow.

"Willie is a gentleman, a man I admire and look up to. This is obviously a big boost for us, another step up the ladder towards being champion trainer one day, that is what I hope.

"I am still realistic enough to know that Willie Mullins has so much ammunition but hopefully some day it will all happen for me.

"I had no idea this would happen."

Henry de Bromhead, Joseph O'Brien, Mouse Morris - who won the Grand National this year with the Gigginstown-owned Rule The World - and Noel Meade are the other trainers reportedly set to receive a share of the ex-Mullins' horses.

Belfast Telegraph

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