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Press Release 12th March 2024 Cheltenham



Tuesday 12th March

Trainer Emmet Mullins recorded an emotional success in the race run in honour of his grandmother when Corbetts Cross landed the concluding contest on Champion Day, the Grade Two Maureen Mullins National Hunt Chase. Maureen Mullins, the matriarch of a great racing dynasty sadly passed away last month aged 94.

Emmet Mullins said: “It was a great honour and a privilege for The Jockey Club to name the race after Mrs Mullins, granny, and it’s extra special to win it.

“We were always very hopeful, and I suppose he had the form in the book to be second in the Arkle today. That’s a special test, but Derek got him into a great rhythm and he showed his true colours. The ground was a bit of a worry, even though he’d won on heavy, but having Derek was a big advantage. Last year (when he ducked out at the last) is long forgotten now and it was great it all came together so impressively. I’ve no plans, and we’ll just enjoy today. He won that easy enough, but any race over three miles and six is going to leave a mark on a horse. He’s entered in the Irish Grand National, but I think it will come too soon. We’ll have to have that discussion but it’s unlikely, although I’ve done stranger things. “

Winning jockey Derek O’Connor said: “It was a super performance. Emmett has done a wonderful job. He has prepared him to perfection. We had a mishap in Fairyhouse and I’d take the blame. I made the decision during the race to go for a gap, and it closed on me and we had a mishap. It was a bad preparation and it was my fault, but Emmett has recouped it and he turned up here in great shape.

“Last Thursday morning we had a schooling session and it was just like you’ve seen today - beautiful to watch. He schooled in the hood - I’m not sure what the reasoning for the hood was; maybe to get him to relax while he’s racing, but it all helped and his performance today was brilliant.

“It was a very simple race today. With a small field like that, a great bunch of riders and horses with a lot of experience - it’s meant to be for novices but to get into the race you had to have run over the trip and completed a certain amount of times, and the riders have to have a certain amount of experience, so it is a better quality race than it used to be, and has a higher standard of horses and jockeys. It was actually a very good race today.

“It’s not for me to say [whether this might be a springboard to Grade One races] but I think that was a very good performance. Top drawer.

“Today was important and got us off to a good start. Whatever happens for the rest of the week, happens.”

An emotional Sara Bradstock, who recently lost her Gold Cup-winning husband Mark, said of third-placed Mr Vango): He’s done us proud. We don’t have the half million pounds to spend on these horses but he’s very genuine and we can make them happier and fitter and they can keep going.

“He’s a 30-grand horse and he’s going to give us a lot of fun, but he’s so big he needs it soft. I asked the big man upstairs (recently deceased husband Mark) to turn on the taps last night and he obliged.”


5.30pm Maureen Mullins National Hunt Chase (Grade 2) 3m6f

1 Corbetts Cross 15-8

2 Embassy Gardens 7-4 Fav

3 Mr Vango 14-1

7 ran

Distances: 17, 8½

5th winner at The Festival for jockey Mr Derek O’Connor

2nd winner at The Festival for trainer Emmet Mullins

74th winner at The Festival for owner JP Mc Manus


Ireland 6

Great Britain 1


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