Six years after one of the most publicized breakups in Irish racing history, the Gigginstown House Stud of Michael O’Leary and Willie Mullins are together again.
Gigginstown racing director Eddie O’Leary told the Racing Post yesterday that a small team of horses will be sent to Closutton for the next jumping season.
Among them is Shanbally Kid, an impressive winner of a Clonmel bumper when trained by Richard O’Brien who fetched £190,000 at the Tattersalls horse in training sale in Cheltenham in April.
“It’s a long road that doesn’t turn!” said Eddie O’Leary when asked about the decision to return horses to the care of the Irish champion trainer.
“We have always been very good friends with Willie and that has never changed over the past few years. We are delighted to have a few horses back with him. Shanbally Kid will be one of them and there are a few others too”
It was six years ago this month, on September 28, 2016, when Gigginstown pulled all of its horses from Mullins’ yard in a row because of training fees. A statement released by the owners at the time read: “As Gigginstown House Stud have been unable to reach agreement with Willie Mullins on an increased training fee, we have agreed – with considerable regret – to move Gigginstown horses to alternate trainers for the upcoming 2016-17 season.
“Gigginstown would like to sincerely thank Willie and the entire Closutton team for the many freshman races we have won together over the past seven years. We hope that a deal can be reached at some point in the future which will allow Willie to take over buying and training more ranked winners for us.
That deal was obviously done six years later and Mullins can once again add Gigginstown to his list of powerhouse owners who helped him celebrate ten notable winners at the Cheltenham Festival last season. He said: “We are delighted to reconnect with Gigginstown and train horses for them again. We’ve been very lucky with them over the years and hopefully we’ll be lucky again.
Gigginstown and Mullins combined for 17 first-year wins over a five-year span, the most recent of which was Apple’s Jade at the 2016 AES Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle at Punchestown before the mare was moved to Gordon Elliott.
While the Gigginstown channel isn’t expected to return to past issues, it looks like they aren’t ready to leave the stage just yet.