An interesting piece by Tony Keenan caught my eye, prompting me to take a deeper look at the record of Willie Mullins’s festival record with falls and unseats. Tony mentioned that Mullins, reportedly, is not a big fan of schooling horses. The trainer’s record at last week’s festival suggested that such a theory was not sound. But it seemed odd for a man who pays such attention to detail to pursue a path that, overall, damaged the chances of his hurdlers and chasers.
Tony looked at the chasers in particular. Using the superb Horseracebase.com I dug a bit deeper, taking in hurdlers as well and going back to 2003.
Since 2003 Mullins has had 417 Cheltenham Festival runners over obstacles. 35 of those fell: 8.39%, and 9 unseated: 2.15%.
139 of those runners were in chases. 21 fell: 15.1%, and 4 unseated: 2.88%
Last week he had 57 runners over obstacles. 10 fell: 17.5%, and 1 unseated: 1.75%
17 of the 57 were steeplechases. There were 6 fallers: 35.2%, and no unseats.
Final comparison figures
Overall Mullins faller percentage in all festival jumps races since 2003: 8.39%
Faller percentage for festival 2018 – 17.5%
Overall chasing falls: 15.1%
2018 chasing falls: 35.2%
Overall hurdle falls: 5.6%
2018 hurdle falls: 10%
No question this year’s festival was an annus horribilis for Wille Mullins regarding falls and unseats, but his long term record suggests it was a one off.
Still, looking at Nicky Henderson over the same period, Willie has work to do:
NJ Henderson festival fall & unseat record since 2003
481 runners over obstacles suffered 17 falls: 3.53%, and 7 unseats: 1.4% (Mullins: 8.39% & 2.15%)
218 runners over fences suffered 9 falls: 4.12%, and 4 unseats: 1.8% (Mullins: 15.1% & 2.88%)
263 runners over hurdles produced 8 fallers: 3.04%, and 3 unseats: 1.1% (Mullins: 5.6% & 1.8%)
Here are a couple of screenshots from Horseracebase.com showing just two of the many hundreds of queries you can run. There is a three-day free trial although it does take a while to find your way around. Links above are not affiliates; I receive no payment from Horseracebase, I just like what they do.