The battle between Champion Trainer Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott has been on since Elliott started to make a real name for himself in the 2015-16 season. That year the championship honours went to Mullins who won it by a landslide and ended up with total earnings of €4.4m against Elliott’s €2.5m.
One year later and the gap had reduced considerably with Mullins just nicking the title once again but by the narrowest of margins with only €200K separating the pair as it all came down to the wire. But it’s the numbers behind the earnings that are interesting and they tell a slightly different story. Willie Mullins has a crop of some of the greatest racehorses in the world at his yard and that quality showed through with his win rate of 32% in the 2016/17 season. Conversely, Gordon Elliott sent out more than double the number of runners in the same season but could only produce a win rate of 16%. Double the horses but only half the wins.
Last season that started to change, particularly when Gigginstown House Stud moved a large contingent of their horses away from Mullins with Elliott the lucky recipient of many of the top charges. Mullins’ win rate reduced to 27%, a steep drop from the previous fews years when he was sitting pretty on +30% rates. But despite the shift in owners, Elliott was still only able to increase his win rate to 17% although it has to be said that quite a few of those wins were in some of the biggest races in the world including Tiger Roll winning the Aintree Grand National, General Principal winning the Irish Grand National and he was also crowned Leading Trainer for the 2018 Cheltenham Festival taking home eight winners.
Despite all of that, he still could not beat Willie Mullins and while it was toe-to-toe for a while, Mullins was able to seal the deal with total earnings of €5.9m against Elliott’s €5.1m. That is a staggering amount of money to be shared between two trainers and they both have UK Jumps earnings on top of that. That is more than the next 23 Irish Trainers earnings – combined!
Clearly Elliott is after the Trainers Championship but he’s going to have a very tough time wrangling it out of Mullins grip. The 2018/19 season is underway and already Mullins is running at a 35% win rate, as opposed to the 10% that Elliott is achieving – the highest and lowest for both trainers in years. Of course there is a very long way to go yet with both just warming up for what will hopefully be another epic trainer battle between the two though Paddy Power have odds of 1/8 ON that Mullins will retain his title.