The National Hunt world was rocked this morning as it was announced that powerful owners Gigginstown House Stud had removed all 60 of their horses from the Willie Mullins yard. The split came out of the blue and is blow for both sides with the main part of the Jumps season now just around the corner.
The split has come after Willie Mullins increased his training fees for the first time in ten years and with Gigginstown clearly deciding that is too expensive for them, they have decided to end the long running partnership. Around 60 horses will now need to be dispersed to various other trainers with Gordon Elliott expected to benefit greatly as a trusted trainer for the Gigginstown outfit.
Apple's Jade, Don Poli, Blow By Blow, Valseur Lido, Outlander and Roi Des Francs are just some of the higher profile names to leave the Willie Mullins stable on Wednesday morning and a whole host of trainers will be keeping their fingers crossed for a phone call in the next few days.
Willie Mullins has been the dominant trainer in the world of National Hunt Racing over the past three or four years with the Closutton handler farming the big races in both the UK and Ireland. Mullins has dominated the Cheltenham Festival of late with one of the strongest team ever assembled and whilst he still has a whole host of Rich Ricci and Graham Wylie owned stars at his disposal, there is no doubt that the loss of the Gigginstown horses will have an impact on his strength and depth.
The news has sent shock waves through various betting markets with Gordon Elliott installed as favourite for the Irish Trainers Championship in the wake of the news. The loss of strength is also set to have an impact on the the British side of the Irish Sea with Paul Nicholls an even shorter price favourite for another Championship as a result of the news this morning.
The battle between Mullins and Nicholls went down to the last day of the British season at Sandown last season but following the news this morning, the Ditcheat handler is a best price of just 1/3F (from 8/11F) with Bet Victor to retain his crown this winter.
How and where the horses are dispersed now becomes the big story with Giggisnstown in a very interesting position. We can expect Elliott to take a large chunk of the Mullins refugees as we have already mentioned but who else benefits from this news remains a guessing game at this stage.