Jockey Danny Mullins proved to be a last minute super-sub as Flooring Porter won the Grade One Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle by an impressive three and a quarter lengths.
It was a second winner at The Festival™ supporting WellChild for trainer Gavin Cromwell following Espoir d’Allen in the 2019 Unibet Champion Hurdle and a first for jockey Mullins, who only came in for the ride following Jonathan Moore’s decision to stand himself down earlier today.
Gavin Cromwell told the post-race press conference: “That was a huge performance. Danny [Mullins] gave him a smashing ride. It’s very unfortunate for Johnny Moore that he couldn’t ride him. He had a bad fall on Sunday and he thought he was going to be ok, but he rode this horse out this morning and he made the decision that he wouldn’t do the horses justice today.
“Thankfully and rightfully so, he stood himself down, and he suggested Danny would be well suited to the horse. Johnny has ridden him all along and brought him all the way to here, and it is very unfortunate for him. It’s all down to Johnny’s instructions – he’s a quirky ride and he gave Danny plenty of instructions. Hats off to Johnny; so unselfish. I’m very grateful to him.
“He veered a little right when he jumped the last, just where the rail is cut away, and he was basically looking for the rail. When he got the rail he took off again.
“He won a Grade B handicap in Navan back in early December. It wasn’t the plan to make the running with him, but he barged his way to the front and won very well on the day. He decided on his tactics, so we went along with that, and it has proved to be the way to ride him.
“He is owned by a syndicate from Galway. Ned Hogarty fronts it up and they’re a great bunch of lads. It’s an awful pity they can’t be here. Ned owns a carpet shop and one of the other guys owns a pub, hence the name Flooring Porter.”
Cromwell admitted it was a “fairytale” to win at The Festival again. He added: “We won a Champion Hurdle a couple of years ago and it was massive. I didn’t think I’d ever win a race in Cheltenham, and to come back and win a second one is fantastic.
“Yes, I am still a farrier, but I don’t do very much work – I’d stick the odd shoe on and deal with a stone bruise, but I am busy with the training. We came across this fella by accident; he was a very cheap store and progressed right through the ranks. It’s a bit of a fairytale, really, and just goes to show that it is possible with a cheap one. He wasn’t bought expecting him to be a Grade One horse or a Stayer’s Hurdle horse.”
Danny Mullins said afterwards: “It’s fantastic. He is a very good horse. I got the call up maybe an hour before and in fairness to Jonathan Moore he gave me every little bit of information he had about the horse.
“Credit to him as he knew he wasn’t in good shape this morning and he stood himself down and that’s the mark of a great man that wants everything to go well. I’m sure he will back in good shape for Punchestown and will be able to re-unite the partnership.
“It’s fantastic to get my first winner on the board at Cheltenham and being a Grade One as well. I’m really enjoying what I’ve got out of it today but I’d say two per cent of the success is down to me and 98 per cent is Jonny, Gavin and all the team. He told me everything but the horse will be racing in a few weeks so I’m not going to give away all the secrets now.
“It was fantastic to play a small role in a big team success. There is no crowd here but I’m really enjoying this. We would ride a lot together in Ireland and a good few of the trainers I ride for like their horses ridden forwards. I’ve ridden plenty of winners that would be on the pace and having a clock in your head maybe that stood out but when you are riding a good horse they do most of the good work for you.
“He (Jonathan) was the first man to come and congratulate me and that was a real bittersweet moment for him and a real mark of a solid man to congratulate me first and foremost. I was going to give him a big slap on the back but I thought that wouldn’t go down well but I said thanks a million and well done. I had my feet in the irons but he had done all the work.”
In his ITV Racing interview Mullins added: “He’s a proper good horse, but it was a late spare ride to me and the man down there (Jonathan Moore, replaced jockey, leading up) is the one you want to be talking to. He lost the ride this morning, gave me every bit of the information he had about the horse. I had a simple job, I knew about it an hour before and that’s the man that’s done all the work and the team at Cromwells. Gavin (Cromwell) and Jonny (Moore) were very good beforehand, left it up to me and there’s the man you need to congratulate.
“It’s fantastic [to get a Cheltenham Festival winner], to win a Grade One is great as well. I’m lucky enough that I rode a very good horse today. I’ve probably given horses that were beaten better rides, I just had to steer this one. It’s special.
“I was chatting to my Dad (Tony Mullins) before the race and my mother as well. The Mullins, we are very close, very competitive, we like beating each other. My mother beat me here a few years ago, but when one of us wins, we’re all proud for each other and I’m delighted to be on the scoresheet here.”
Jonathan Moore told ITV Racing: “I’m delighted for the horse. I knew Leopardstown was no fluke and I gave Danny as much information as I could and Danny gave him a brilliant ride. It’s great just for the team and Gavin, he’s been a great horse for the Flooring Porter Syndicate, a great story and I’m just so proud of the horse to show that he was able to do it.
“I know he has a massive engine. I rode him out this morning and I wasn’t able to stand upright over my irons, I was too sore, and I said I wasn’t going to be able to do this horse justice. I said to Gavin, ‘put Danny Mullins on that horse’s back and he’ll win on him’.
“I know how good this horse is and nothing surprises me with him.”
Lisa O’Neill, representing Denise Foster, trainer of runner-up Sire Du Berlais, said:
“He ran a cracker. He’s a dual Pertemps winner and he loves it at Cheltenham, so we had no question about his stamina and we’re delighted with his performance.
“This is only his second attempt at Grade One level, so it’s promising and we can look towards the future with him. We could potentially go to Punchestown next, but we’ll speak to the owners and see what they think.”
Jockey Mark Walsh added: “The winner upheld the form from Christmas, so we had no excuse and couldn’t get to him again, but my lad has run a good race. He loves it here and for a little horse he’s a little warrior so I’m delighted with that.”
Emma Lavelle, trainer of third-placed Paisley Park, the 9-4 favourite and winner of this race in 2019 said: “I’m really pleased with him although I can’t say I’m not disappointed as well because at the end of the day we didn’t win.
“He’s run flat out from start to finish and just couldn’t go any faster. The winner has gone some gallop and kept going. We had to use him to get there and just couldn’t get to where we needed him.
“Probably having missed the trial race here it wasn’t fitness that got him beat but probably a little sharpness, as he hadn’t run since before Christmas. He’s run a super race and all credit to Flooring Porter.”
Asked about Aintree and Punchestown, Lavelle continued: “We’ll see how he is after this, but he hasn’t had a busy season and I’d say we’ll definitely have a look at those races.”
Paisley Park’s jockey Aidan Coleman added: “He’s shown a great attitude and fair play to the horse, but I was flat out the whole way – simple as. I couldn’t really get into it and when I did I’d probably used my energy to get there, but he tried everywhere and I’m very proud of him.
“That was some gallop, so fair play to the winner. It was a very good ride on the winner too, as he got a breather into him down the back and we’ve closed up a bit, but by the time we got into some sort of a position he was able to go on again.”
- 1st – Flooring Porter – Gavin Cromwell IRE 6-11-10 Danny Mullins 12-1
- 2nd – Sire Du Berlais – Denise Foster IRE 9-11-10 Mark Walsh 5-1
- 3rd – Paisley Park – Emma Lavelle 9-11-10 Aidan Coleman 9-4 Fav
- 15 ran
- Distances: 3¼, 1¾
- Time: 5m 51.78s
- Winning Owner: Flooring Porter Syndicate
- Breeder: Sean Murphy
- Breeding: b g Yeats (IRE) – Lillymile (IRE) (Revoque (IRE))
- Gavin Cromwell – 2nd winner at The Festival™ supporting WellChild
- Danny Mullins – 1st winner at The Festival™ supporting WellChild