Patrick Mullins sees big future for National winner Callaghan

It may be approaching high summer, with The Derby at Epsom looming this weekend and plans for Royal Ascot in a few weeks’ time to the fore, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t business as usual for a certain Willie Mullins.

The Mullins-trained Rock Road bagged the €60,000 McHale Mayo National, the highlight of the season in Ballinrobe, on Tuesday evening and in doing so, provided a first winner over fences for teenager Kieran Callaghan.

Afterwards, Closutton second in command Patrick Mullins hailed the talented teen with a ‘big future’.

Road to success is clear

Racing from 6lb out of the handicap, Rock Road was sent into an early lead at the third fence by Callaghan, though the advantage was soon a contested one as Jacksons Gold was also keen to lead.

Claiming 7lb to offset the imbalance, Callaghan continued to race in a handy position throughout the near three-mile contest and his partner was back at the head of affairs as they reached the third last.

Coming down to the final jump, the 4/1 second-favourite had a clear lead and he was driven out to land the spoils by six-and-a-half-lengths from Gavin Cromwell’s Ilikedwayurthinkin – the market leader – under Mark Walsh.

Aged 10, Rock Road was having only his fourth start for the Mullins team after joining from Michael Bowe last summer. He has won both starts over fences for the champion trainer, adding to his Kilbeggan score last June.

The Ballinrobe win was only his ninth career start over fences and it remains to be seen what more can be achieved for the Bowes Lodge Stables Partnership-owned gelding.

Ballinrobe target pays off

Patrick Mullins, representing his father at the track, confirmed that another member of Team Closutton had recommended the horse having ridden him in plenty of his starts for his former trainer.

Going for the Mayo National was the plan for some while, and it wasn’t altered despite the disadvantage at the weights.

“Brian Hayes recommended him and we bought him from Michael Bowe,” he said. “He’s been lucky for us, despite a few injuries. And this has been the plan for a while, although it wasn’t ideal to be running from out of the handicap.”

Expect to see plenty more of Callaghan

While Callaghan may not be known to many, he was having just his fourth ride over fences, it’s clear the team around him at Closutton have faith in his ability.

“Kieran is 18 and from Old Leighlin which is just up the road from us. He’s with us a couple of years and is a very talented rider who can do those light weights,” Patrick Mullins stated.

“He hasn’t a lot of experience over fences but was very good there. I told him to get a good start and hopefully we’d sit third, fourth or fifth. He ended up in front but he did the right thing and slotted him in after a while. The horse stays well and did it well.

“He is very good value for his 7lb claim. He’s a jockey with a big future and all credit goes to him.”

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