Emmet Mullins talks of thrill of training Grand National winner


Trainer Emmet Mullins has admitted that only The Shunter’s victory at last year’s Cheltenham Festival came close after watching Noble Yeats win the Randox Grand National on Saturday.
Mullins also admitted he gets more out of training big winners than riding them. He was a festival winner as a jockey in the Martin Pipe in 2011 on Sir Des Champs, for his uncle Willie. But that was nothing compared to Saturday as the 50 to 1 novice won the Grand National.
Mullins said: “I’ve only twice been short of breath in my life. Saturday was the second time it has happened to me and the only other time was when The Shunter won at Cheltenham last year. Training winners is a totally different experience to riding them. It is a totally different release altogether.
“I never thought this would happen. I still haven’t told myself I have won the Grand National. It’s unbelievable. I don’t really know when it will all sink in. It could take you a lifetime to win a Grand National and I can’t believe it’s happened already.”
He went on to say: “”I didn’t see much of Noble Yeats early doors, to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t able to pick him out. I was glad of his bright orange colours when he passed the stands with a circuit to race as I could pick him out from that point. I took a deep breath at that stage as I knew he was in the sort of position where the winner would come from.
“Then, when I saw him crossing the Melling Road and Sam [Waley-Cohen] taking a pull, I took my second blow. I never had any doubts about his stamina and I always knew he would run to the line, so at no stage on the second circuit had I given up hope. I knew we had a massive chance. I was gasping for breath all the way up the run-in.”
Although he trained the winner, Mullins was full of praise for jockey Sam Waley-Cohen: He said: “After Noble Yeats won his maiden hurdle at Navan last March I knew he was going to be a top staying chaser,” the trainer said. “We wanted to aim him at a big pot so we picked the Grand National and worked back from that.
“I suppose the fact Paul [Byrne] sold the horse to the Waley-Cohens did add a little bit more pressure but they are racing folk and they understand the game. They didn’t put any pressure on me at all.
“Having Sam on him was a huge asset, it was probably the winning or losing of the race. I’m not sure many other jockeys would have won on him.”