Reports02 May 2024

World record: Willie Mullins tops own achievement by securing most Grade 1 wins in a season after Il Etait Temps success

Willie Mullins: has broken his own record for top-level races won in a calendar year
Willie Mullins: champion trainer has broken his own record for top-level races won in a seasonCredit: Edward Whitaker (

Willie Mullins broke his own world record for the most top-level victories in a season when Il Etait Temps landed the Barberstown Castle Novice Chase at Punchestown on Thursday. 

Mullins, who will be crowned Ireland's champion trainer for the 18th time, won a record 34 Grade 1s during the 2015-16 campaign and was already on 31 Grade 1s at the beginning of the week.

Mystical Power provided his 32nd top-level win this season in the Champion Novice Hurdle on Tuesday, before Dancing City and Redemption Day added more Grade 1 success on Wednesday.

It was left to Il Etait Temps to take the trainer past his own record, with the second favourite leading home a stable 1-2-3 in the four-runner race. Odds-on favourite Gaelic Warrior was outpaced after the last and finished second under Paul Townend, while front-runner Hercule Du Seuil was third.

Winning rider Danny Mullins said: "What a tough little horse. He keeps battling. I missed the third-last in a two-mile chase and that usually puts you away, and he came back on the bridle. Once I got a jump at the second-last and the last I was always slightly confident I’d get the better of Paul. Gaelic Warrior sets the standard, he’s been the best around this year, and thankfully we got the better of him.

“He could be one to look forward to next season. To be a Champion Chaser you need to have a little bit of stamina and the Aintree victory shows he can get two and a half.”

Il Etait Temps and Danny Mullins with Fern O'Brien after winning the Grade 1 Barberstown Castle Novice Chase
Il Etait Temps and Danny Mullins with Fern O'Brien after winning the Grade 1 Barberstown Castle Novice ChaseCredit: Patrick McCann

Willie Mullins' record haul included an unprecedented clean sweep of the eight Grade 1s at the Dublin Racing Festival, featuring the Irish Gold Cup, Irish Champion Hurdle and Dublin Chase.

Last week Mullins became the first Irish trainer since Vincent O'Brien 70 years ago to win the British jumps championship, thanks largely to a string of top-level wins at the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree.

He won eight Grade 1s at Cheltenham, including the Gold Cup with Galopin Des Champs and the Champion Hurdle with State Man.

Alongside victory in the Grand National, Mullins won a further four Grade 1s at Aintree with Il Etait Temps, Impaire Et Passe, Mystical Power and Dancing City. 

The Closutton trainer can be expected to add to his haul on the remaining two days of the Punchestown festival, with heavy odds-on favourites State Man (Boodles Champion Hurdle) and Ballyburn (Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle) in his team on Friday. Lossiemouth and Kargese are favourites to land the two Grade 1 contests on Saturday, the final day of the Irish jumps season.

Il Etait Temps' victory also left Mullins just one short of Dermot Weld's all-time Irish record of 4,377 winners.

It was a third Grade 1 this season for the perhaps underestimated winner following his successes at Leopardstown and Aintree, and this victory over Gaelic Warrior was of particular merit considering how comprehensively he had been defeated by his stablemate at Limerick and Cheltenham.

Mullins said: "He's an extraordinary horse. To look at him, he doesn't look like a big steeplechaser but he has an engine and jumps well. He's maturing and learning the whole time. He's also getting a lot easier to ride. He wears a hood and a tongue-tie, which is just to keep the revs low on him. It's working and has helped him improve all season.

"I imagine he could stay in the two-mile division next season on ground that he likes unless we judge that he's too slow. He never gives up."

Reflecting on the performance of Gaelic Warrior, Mullins said: "Paul thought the ground dried out a little too much for him. He's probably more of a winter horse. When he won the three-mile novice hurdle here last year, Paul thought he didn't move as well on it even though he won. 

"I didn't think he was as flashy in his jumping today. He's normally an extravagant jumper but he wasn't that at all today."

Read these next:

'Genius' Willie Mullins makes history as first Irish trainer to win British championship for 70 years 

'He's one tough horse' - Dancing City completes Aintree-Punchestown double with gritty victory 

'He keeps surprising me and keeps improving' - Mystical Power now 12-1 for Champion Hurdle after another Grade 1 win 

Sign up to receive On The Nose, our essential daily newsletter, from the Racing Post. Your unmissable morning feed, direct to your email inbox every morning.