Now the national hunt season has finished we can look back and see what happened at the big meetings and there was one common factor, the Irish were involved a lot. They didn’t face too much opposition at their own Dublin Racing Festival and the Punchestown Festival, so they were allowed to dominate them. They came to Cheltenham and dominated the home team there, and they then turned up and took home the Grand National prize with them to round off another remarkable season for those across the Irish sea.
There is no doubt about it, right now the power in national hunt racing is with the Irish. Their charge is led by Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott and it is those two that have the big money to spend on recruits, and those two who are leading the way when it comes to finding big winners. Gone are the days when Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson would get the first pick of the classy French youngsters, these horses are now sourced and bought by Willie Mullins and his loyal group of owners before Nicholls and Henderson have heard of them.
The same can be said about horses from the Irish point to point seen, for a long time these were sourced for the big English yards, but often the very best are already sold to Gordon Elliott before they have even run, giving the English no chance to buy them. While Elliott will buy some French horses, he likes to stick to the point to point market, and that is something he now dominates, with the rest of those interested buying horses that he doesn’t want.
We are at a period where the office staff and the contacts you have in horse racing are just as important as those looking after the horses. Both Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott have recognised this and created teams specifically to buy horses for them, and no one else. That has given them the chance to dominate the market and buy exactly what they want. It is the success they have had that has drawn in the wealthy owners, something they are now reaping the rewards of. With their teams in place, and success happening frequently at all the big meetings for these two, it is hard to see anything happening that will knock them off the top spot, and give the English a chance to fight back.
Horse racing is big business, and the teams looking after the purchases made by the Mullins and Elliott camps are doing a great job providing the ammunition for them to fire. They have everything in place, from the right people to source horses for them, to state of the art training facilities to get horses fit and ready to run. They are leading the way when it comes to creating a conveyer belt of winners, and that is set to bring only more Irish dominance over the next few years, including at the major British horse racing festivals.