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    Mullins Clan Aiming for Emotive Outcome in National Hunt Challenge
Mullins Clan Aiming for Emotive Outcome in National Hunt Challenge
Maureen Mullins with her grandson Patrick at Kempton— Getty Images

Mullins Clan Aiming for Emotive Outcome in National Hunt Challenge

Emotional scenes are anticipated at Cheltenham should Embassy Gardens triumph in the Maureen Mullins National Hunt Chase. Named in honour of the matriarch of the renowned Irish racing family, who passed away last month at the age of 94, the race holds sentimental significance as Willie Mullins trains Embassy Gardens, ridden by grandson Patrick on the Festival's opening day.

Stattler and Gaillard Du Mesnil secured victories in the past two years for the Mullins duo. Patrick Mullins, the most successful jockey in the race, clinched the win initially with Back In Focus in 2013 and later with Rathvinden six years ago. Despite a previous disappointing performance at Prestbury Park in last year's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, this year's contender has excelled since transitioning to fences, winning impressively in the last two outings.

However, a formidable challenge looms within the Mullins family, with Emmet Mullins' Corbetts Cross poised as another Irish contender set to make a mark. Patrick Mullins expressed,

"It was thoughtful of Cheltenham to dedicate the National Hunt Chase to granny, and I believe Embassy Gardens has a strong chance. Nevertheless, my cousin Emmet may have an advantage with Corbetts Cross; his form appears stronger, despite suboptimal preparation. Hopefully, one of us can emerge victorious, preferably me."

The Mullins family is on the cusp of a significant week in the Cotswolds, with the Closutton maestro just six wins away from becoming the first trainer to achieve a three-figure milestone at the Festival. Reflecting on the family legacy, Patrick Mullins acknowledged the pivotal role played by his grandparents in laying the foundation for the current dynasty's success.

Since securing his inaugural Festival triumph with Tourist Attraction in 1995, Willie Mullins has showcased a plethora of elite equine talent at Cheltenham, claiming the leading trainer accolade ten times in the past 13 years. While singling out a standout moment can be challenging, Patrick Mullins believes Hurricane Fly's reclaiming of the Champion Hurdle crown in 2013 stands as a crowning achievement for his father.

He reflected,

"The standout memory for me is Hurricane Fly regaining the Champion Hurdle. After missing the Supreme and the first Champion Hurdle due to injury, winning it back was remarkable. Despite a disrupted season the following year, his resurgence to claim the top hurdling title was a testament to his exceptional quality."

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