NI trainer hoping for Grand National glory

Trainer Neil Mulholland is originally from Glenavy but has his stables near Bath in England
Trainer Neil Mulholland is originally from Glenavy but has his stables near Bath in England

Eager punters across the UK are expected to take a chance on Northern Ireland trainer Neil Mulholland’s horse The Young Master, one of the favourites in today’s Grand National.

Anyone fancying a flutter on the action at Aintree could do worse than take a look at the Ulsterman’s horse, rated a 16-1 shot.

Neil Mulholland (left) congratulates jockey Sam Waley-Cohen after The Young Master won the bet365 Gold Cup Chase
 at Sandown last year

Neil Mulholland (left) congratulates jockey Sam Waley-Cohen after The Young Master won the bet365 Gold Cup Chase at Sandown last year

Trainer Neil, who is from Glenavy in Co Antrim, told the News Letter that while The Young Master is rated as one of the favourites, everything could come down to luck on the day.

“He’s one of the favourites and he has a good chance. He’s won several big races in his career and we’re looking forward to running him. That’s been the plan for a while, he’s in good form and he ticks all the right boxes.

“The only thing is that with the Grand National a lot of it comes down to luck on the day.”

The Co Antrim man, a former jockey, said he has been surrounded by horses since his childhood in Glenavy.

He now lives in England and trains horses at Conkwell Grange in Bath.

“I was brought up surrounded by a family that loved horses,” he said. “My father Brian was not a trainer but he always had a horse in training, while at home he loved to breed his own mares to try and find that big-race winner we are all looking for.

“ I was very lucky to have a pony from my first memories, it was in my blood.

“At the age of 11 years old I started to ride out for Ian Duncan who was my local trainer, based just a couple of miles away. At the age of 12 I wrote a secret letter to Aidan O’Brien, who at the time was champion jumps trainer, to ask him for some work experience.

“To my surprise he replied and I spent six years in total with him, the first three years part time when I was at school, the last three years full time to do my apprenticeship.

“I enjoyed every minute at Aidan’s and learned so much. It was there that I started my riding career and went on to ride about 120 winners, riding for a lot of great trainers on a lot of nice horses.

“I was a journeyman jockey so I had to work hard and ride for as many trainers as possible which meant I got to see a lot of different ways people train. In 2008 I first took out my trainer’s licence, training 17 winners in my first season which was brilliant.”

Aside from The Young Master, other favourites include Definitly Red at 10-1, Vieux Lion Rouge at 11-1, Cause of Causes at 12-1, More of That at 12-1 and One For Arthur at 14-1.

The Grand National is one of the most famous horse races in the world and the most valuable jump race in Europe, with a £1 million prize in 2016.

Well over £100 million is bet on the famous race on an annual basis. In 2013, £150 million was spent on bets on the Grand National. Around a quarter of UK adults usually have a flutter on the race, with around three-quarters of those choosing to back their horse each way. Just under a third of punters choose to bet more than £5.