Willie Mullins: Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud returns to Irish champion trainer after six-year split

Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud team look set for a shock return to Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins, six years after a split that altered the Irish jumps racing scene.

O’Leary and Mullins combined for a whole host of high-profile victories, including the Aintree 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle with Apple’s Jade in 2016 and the 2013 Punchestown Gold Cup with Sir Des Champs.

But the two split at the height of Gigginstown’s operation in 2016, with O’Leary citing issues over training fees as the reason behind pulling his horses out of the Closutton maestro’s yard.

Apple’s Jade and Jack Kennedy after winning the Irish Champion Hurdle

The likes of Gordon Elliott – who trained Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack and dual-Grand National hero Tiger Roll for O’Leary – were among those to benefit from that move, with Joseph O’Brien, Noel Meade and Henry de Bromhead also picking up horses.

Back in 2019, Gigginstown announced plans to wind down their racing operation, with racing manager Eddie O’Leary stating that they would no longer be purchasing young or store horses over an extended four or five-year period.

That decision looks to have at least been put on hold, with Gigginstown sending a “small and select” amount of horses to the Mullins yard, including exciting Clonmel bumper winner Shanbally Kid, bought for £190,000 at the Tattersalls Cheltenham April Sale.

O’Leary told Thoroughbred Daily News: “All I will say is that it is a long road that doesn’t turn.

Sir Des Champs with winning jockey Davy Russell and trainer Willie Mullins.
Sir Des Champs with winning jockey Davy Russell and trainer Willie Mullins.

“We’ve had some great days with Willie [Mullins] and we are looking forward to having a couple with him this season again.

“Shanbally Kid will be the first of them. We bought him after he won his bumper at Clonmel.”

Land Rover Bumper second Miss Agusta has also been bought by the Gigginstown team for €235,000, and heads to the Gordon Elliott yard.

“We bought a few bumper horses and got a couple at the store sales so it will be a small and select approach going forward. Miss Agusta is ours and she’s for Gordon.” he added.

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