Ryanair mogul Michael O’Leary has pulled his horses from champion Irish National Hunt trainer Willie Mullins.
The decision comes down to a dispute in fees between the Gigginstown House Stud boss and Mr Mullins. It is understood the horses are being split between other trainers.
Speaking on At The Races yesterday morning (28 September), Mr Mullins confirmed they had “parted company”.
“I have just upped my fees for the first time in 10 years and Gigginstown chose not to pay them — that’s it,” he said.
“I am not willing to try and maintain the yard that I have and the standards I have [for less]. That is the way it is.
“Everyone who comes into my yard is treated the same. I see enough people going to the wall in Ireland all the time.
“We’ve evolved our methods of training, which obviously costs a lot as well, and we’re not prepared to sacrifice that.
“They have been very good to us over the years, bought some fantastic horses — there is a fantastic team of horses going to whoever is going to get them.
“I wish them the best — it is the way it is, you move on.”
The split involves 60 horses, including two-time Cheltenham Festival victor Don Poli as well as a number of other Grade One winners.
“They are very hard horses to replace,” added Mr Mullins. “Even with all the money in the world, lots of people try to buy horses like that, sometimes they just happen.”
In a statement to RTÉ Sport, Gigginstown said it has been unable to reach agreement with Mr Mullins on an increase in training fees.
“We have agreed – with considerable regret – to move the Gigginstown horses to alternative trainers for the coming 2016/17 season,” it read.
“Gigginstown wishes to sincerely thank Willie and all the team at Closutton for the many Grade One races we have won together over the past seven years.
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“We hope that an agreement can be reached at some time in the future which will allow Willie to resume buying and training more graded winners for us.
“While we part at this time with regret, we wish Willie and all the team at Closutton continued success.”