ANOTHER memorable afternoon for the Mullins team ended in fine style, as Union Dues took the Irish Form Book Future Champions Flat Race at Navan, thus enabling Patrick Mullins to equal Billy Parkinson’s 97-year-old record for winners by an amateur rider in a calendar year.

This success moved Mullins on to the 72-winner mark, and left him in excellent shape to break this near-century landmark before the year draws to a close. “It’s great to have equalled the record, and I’ve been amazed how many people have come up to me over the last few weeks and wished me luck; that means a lot,” he said afterwards.

The jockey’s father, Willie, was understandably proud of his son’s achievements throughout the year, reflecting: “Patrick has ridden fantastic all year. He’s always shown great commitment, he’s got huge dedication and he very seldom makes a mistake.”

The race itself witnessed a fine performance from Union Dues, who was bought out of Tony Mullins’ yard for £41,000 after winning a Killarney bumper in July.

The Alan McLuckie-owned four-year-old faced entirely different ground on this occasion, and had to contend with two highly promising first time out winners in Champagne James and Gilt Shadow.

He passed this test with flying colours, and Stan James cut him into 10/1 joint-favourite for the bumper at Cheltenham, for which he looks a very strong contender. “He’s been pleasing us at home, and the speed he showed on that ground against some good horses would entitle him to head across to Cheltenham,” said the winning trainer.

[The chosen mount of Patrick Mullins in the bumper at Cheltenham, Union Dues finished eighth behind Briar Hill. He next appeared at Galway and won a qualified riders’ maiden with Mullins on board. After a disappointing debut over hurdles, he was three lengths clear when falling at the last in a maiden hurdle, and never raced again.

Patrick Mullins went on to ride two more winners in 2012, and set a new mark of 74. In July 2018 Mullins became the winning-most amateur rider of all time as he overtook the record of 545 winners set by Ted Walsh]

President of Ireland can race his horses in Britain


THE recently propounded notion that Seskin Bridge, who runs in the colours of President Hillary, might not be allowed to race in England is, fortunately, without foundation.

There was some suggestion that diplomatic protocol might interfere, and the manner in which Seskin Bridge’s ownership is described on the race card as His Excellency the President of Ireland was likely to cause a problem should Seskin Bridge prove good enough to travel to Cheltenham.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin looked into the protocol aspect of the mare’s participation in England, and came up with a clean bill – no problems.

The Irish National Stud, whose management Seskin Bridge is effectively under, pointed out that other animals have carried the presidential livery across the Channel without any difficulty.

The Jockey Club in London did not believe that a problem could arise, and it was really Cheltenham’s affair!

John Oxx, like all retired trainers, has a wealth of stories, ad recalls that he trained for three presidents and two queens. When Banri An Oir, the 1953 Athasi Stakes winner and Irish 1000 Guineas third, ran in the Cork and Orrery Stakes at Ascot, the President’s blue and gold ensign flew at the Royal meeting.

[A daughter of Laurence O and out of an Even Money mare, Seskin Bridge won a bumper, three hurdle races and three chases, including the Grade 2 Harold Clarke Leopardstown Chase and the Grade 2 Goffs Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park. She was runner-up in the Jameson Irish Grand National and third in the Power Gold Cup, both at Fairyhouse.

At stud from 1986 to 1998, she bred just four live foals. Two of them won point-to-points, including Diorraing (gelding by Tremblant) who won three point-to-points]

Archer was brave beyond belief


TO Fred Archer (born 1857 in Cheltenham; died 1886) the racecourse was a battlefield upon which he neither gave nor asked for quarter.

He was brave beyond belief, nothing daunted or fazed him once he was on a horse and down at the start. He was a great judge of pace and a wonderful horseman. One trainer said of him: “When you give Archer a leg-up, he drops into the saddle, and in a moment he and the horse are one”.

Above all, he was straight. “I believe in Archer,” Lord Falmouth declared, and he was right. The public loved him, for they knew that when Archer was up they would get a run for their money.

He was afforded the sort of adulation now reserved for film stars or skiffle kings. Crowds would black the road outside his hotel as they waited to see him step into his carriage for the races. Women, mostly from society and the fast racing set, threw themselves at him. Dukes were glad to be seen talking to him in public.

Archer never allowed all this to turn his head. Matt Dawson never treated him as anything other than an exceptionally gifted apprentice, even when Archer was at the height of his fame, and earning eight to 10 thousand a year.

[Frederick James Archer, also known by the nickname The Tin Man, was once described as “the best all-round jockey that the turf has ever seen”. He was champion jockey for 13 consecutive years until 1886, riding 2,748 winners from 8,084 starts He set records for the number of titles, number of wins in a season (246) and number of races won which stood until the arrival of Steve Donoghue and Sir Gordon Richards. Delirious from wasting and the loss of his wife during childbirth, he committed suicide at the age of 29. His ghost is said to ride a light grey horse over Newmarket Heath.

Archer’s Derby winners were Silvio, Bend Or, Iroquois, Melton and Ormonde;he won the Oaks on Spinaway, Jannette, Wheel Of Fortune and Lonely. His 1000 Guineas wins were on Spinaway and Wheel Of Fortune, and victories in the 2000 Guineas were gained on Atlantic, Charibert, Galliard and Paradox. Archer’s Derby tally was bettered by six St Leger successes, gained on Silvio, Jannette, Iroquois, Dutch Oven, Melton and Ormonde]