Ryanair Boss to Remove Horses from Trainer Willie Mullins
Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary is no stranger to controversy. But his contentious words and actions are usually related to his airline. This has an unfortunate reputation for poor customer service and somewhat less than clear pricing policies. On the other hand, O’Leary’s horses have been making headlines for the right reasons with Don Cossack winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Rule the World romping to victory in the Grand National.
Trainer Raises Prices
Michael O’Leary did, indeed, appear to rule the National Hunt world. However, he has now had a falling out with trainer Willie Mullins who raised his fees to a level which O’Leary has deemed unacceptable. 60 of O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud horses were removed from Mullin’s yard. He is perhaps fortunate that customers of Ryanair haven’t taken the same approach to the airline when they have discovered that their flights are going to cost considerably more than they thought.
Michael O’Leary Acting Unreasonably?
O’Leary’s actions do seem a little unreasonable as Willie Mullins hadn’t increased his charges for ten years. Mr O’Leary could be shooting himself in the foot as Mullins has dominated National Hunt racing in recent seasons. He has been Ireland’s Champion trainer for the last nine years and the leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival for five out of the last six years. He almost landed the British championship as well last season.
Trainers Who Will Benefit
Mullin’s chief rival in Ireland, Gordon Elliot looks set to receive some of the Gigginstown horses as he already trains Don Cossack and Don Poli amongst others. Mouse Morris, who saddled Rule the World to win the Grand National will also receive further Gigginstown horses as will Henry de Bromhead, Noel Meade and Joseph O’Brien. Gordon Elliot is now favourite to become Ireland’s Champion trainer. Willie Mullins has said:
"We’re parting company. It’s basically over fees, I’d imagine. I put my fees up for the first time in 10 years and Gigginstown chose not to pay them. I’m not willing to try to maintain the standards I have [without putting up fees], so that’s the way it is"
Gigginstown has expressed its regret over what has happened together with the hope that Mullins will be training the stud’s horses again at some point in the future.
The removal of the horse’s from Mullin’s yard does seem to be a knee jerk reaction but then that is nothing new for Michael O’Leary. His actions don’t reflect well on him but then nor do many of his airline’s policies but he rarely changes his mind. He is a man who is used to getting what he wants and who doesn’t much care what other people think. Will his horses continue to win the biggest races? Time will tell.