Last year, the Irish Racing Yearbook got Davy Russell and Barry Geraghty to sit down with each other and compare notes on their successful seasons and career-trajectories to date. Ruby Walsh even dropped in for a little while too and made a contribution.
How do you top that? It’s difficult, but getting two of the greatest horse trainers the world has ever seen to engage in some relaxed conversation over dinner in a convivial setting might just have done it.
The results are intriguing. Jim Bolger and Willie Mullins are all business when we see them on the racecourse, but Donn McClean manages to reveal a glimpse of the human beings, with plenty opportunity for mirth and mischief, particularly of the dry variety.
The pair have a shared history despite coming from polar opposite backgrounds – Bolger, the accountant, and Mullins, the son of a legendary trainer steeped in the racing game. Yet they each learned from the other during Mullins’ two years as Bolger’s assistant.
And, Mullins bought the hugely exciting Annie Power from his former guvnor.
“We always thought a lot of her” says Bolger. “We had her ready to win her bumper at Galway in August and I was lucky enough that I was able to get Mr Patrick Mullins to ride her. There was a two-fold advantage to that; I had a really good pilot on the day, and I had a customer as well afterwards.”
“At our game, she could be anything” is Mullins’ verdict. “I was just taken by her physique and her size. We thought she would be an adequate replacement for Quevega when the time came. It’s very hard to get mares with as deep a girth as she has. Dawn Run was the same.”
Bolger and Mullins are trailblazers on the flat and over jumps respectively, but each has enjoyed significant success in the sphere of racing for which they are not so well known. And neither is showing any signs of letting up.
Some other tasty morsels from in the Irish Racing Yearbook 2014 include…
“If I could computer-generate a jockey, I would base him on Mick Kinane.” - AP McCoy
“I suppose the horses give me something to live for.” – Oliver Brady
“I just can’t skirt round the edges. I’m either in or I’m out.” - Johnny Murtagh
“You try and do your best for the horse and the man’s that owns him. That’s what we’ll be trying to do with Flemenstar” – Tony Martin
“2011 made me. Up until then I was coasting” – Chris Hayes
“Last season was a bit special.” – Bryan Cooper
“It’s never been a deliberate plan to concentrate on sharper types” – Eddie Lynam
“If you have a horse up to Graded level in Ireland, they really should be able to cover their costs” – Barry Connell
The Irish Racing Yearbook 2014 is the definitive Irish racing annual, containing interviews with the personalities at all levels of the sport, from the prospects making their way up, to the established stars, and those in the middle. The vital point-to-point and breeding sectors are featured extensively also.
The standard of contributor attests to the quality of analysis and writing - Gary O’Brien, Richard Forristal, Brian O’Connor, John O’Brien, Lissa Oliver, Sue Montgomery and Niall Cronin would add to any publication. Meanwhile, the €500 worth of racecourse admission discounts is a sure-fire attraction, as is the opportunity to win €2000 courtesy of Ladbrokes.
The Irish Racing Yearbook 2014 (€21.95/£19) is on sale now in all good newsagents and bookshops, and can be ordered by phone (056 7761504) or online (www.irishracingyearbook.com).