When it comes to horse trainers, it is sometimes tricky to actual quantify how well they have done or in fact how much impact they have had in their field and there is often a lot of debate around who the best horse trainers are. Ireland however, seems to produce great trainers over and over again, but which ones have had the biggest impact on the horse racing industry?
O’Brien died at the age of 92 in 2009 is widely regarded as the most successful racehorse trainer in history. He had an amazing record of winning three successive Grand Nationals and four Cheltenham Gold Cups, within the space of 8 years. He managed to really elevate Irish horse racing to new heights and he was rewarded with a doctorate from the National University of Ireland in 1983. In 2003 he was voted the greatest influence in horse racing history by the Racing Post, in a worldwide poll.
Willie Mullins started training racehorses in 1988 after working as an assistant to his father previously, after also having some success as an amateur champion jockey. He trained the Grand National winner in 2005 and the 2011 and 2013 Champion Hurdle race at Cheltenham. In 2015 he achieved a record of 8 winners, which is joint with Gordon Elliot. Mullins works with famous jockey Ruby Walsh, who has a fantastic record, including been the leading jockey a massive 11 times at the Cheltenham Festival.
In 2007 Elliott became the youngest trainer in history to win the Grand National and at this point he has never even trained a winner back home in Ireland. He also won the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2016 and followed this up by becoming the top trainer in the 2017 Cheltenham Festival and in 2018. He also then won the Grand National in 2018 and is regarded as been the top Irish trainer out there at present.
Aiden O’Brien has now established himself as the leading flat trainer in the UK and possibly the world over the past few years. In 2017 he broke the world record for the number of G1 victories when he achieved 27. He is so dominant in flat racing that many actually forget that he started off plying his trade in National Hunt racing. It will be interesting to see if O’Brien can continue his success of recent years and break his record number of G1 victories in a year or will he be knocked off his perch by an upcoming trainer, maybe even his son Joseph, who is becoming a highly regarded trainer.
Weld still holds the record for the number of winners trained in Ireland, set in 2000 at 2,578. He is also a qualified vet and jockey. 2016 saw him achieve his 4,000 winner, which is something he can be very proud of as this is not a figure many trainers will ever reach! It will come as no surprise that Weld is the punters and bookmaker odds on favourite to be the stand out trainer at Galway this year, with a Betpoint spokesman confirming that it is almost a foregone conclusion. It is an almost certainty that Weld is destined to achieve heights that very few, if any, will even get close to.