“The sheer joy of that first winner is something I'll never forget"

Questions & Answers: Jockey Danny Mullins on his most memorable moments in horse-racing

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Kilkenny Sport

Danny Mullins was the winner of the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase aboard the Willie Mullins-trained 'Total Recall

What was your childhood ambition?
I always wanted to be a jockey.
Growing up, who was your sporting hero?
Charlie Swan was brilliant on Istabraq.
Do you have a mentor?
I have no single mentor, but I am lucky to have a big family support for any guidance I need.
What or where is your happy place?
Looking out through horses’ ears. It is something jockeys probably take for granted but after a few weeks away you really appreciate how cool it is to do the job we do.
What sparked your love of racing?
I was lucky enough to grow up around racehorses and they captured my imagination from the very beginning.
What horse put you on the map?
Mount Benbulben. He was my first Grade 1 winner on my 21st birthday at the 2013 Punchestown Festival. That is a day I will never forget.
Who is your favourite horse?
Marlay Park. Trained by my mum, he a real legend of a horse, he was my first winner over hurdles, and I learnt so much on him.
What was it like to ride in your first race?
My first ride was for Jim Bolger on Malande at Gowran Park on May 18, 2008 and it was amazing.
That feeling of raw power - I had waited my whole life for it.
How long does it take to learn race-riding tactics?
It doesn’t take too long to learn the tactics, but it takes a few years to learn how to execute them properly.
Describe the feeling of riding your first winner
It was sheer joy. My Girl Sophie was my first winner in Leopardstown back in 2008.
Jim Bolger put me on some very good horses early in my career which was a big help to me.
What is your most memorable racing moment?
It is difficult to choose but Rock And Roll Kid winning the Premier Handicap at the 2009 Galway Festival was a great day.
My father trained him, and it was great to ride a big winner for him.
What is your favourite racecourse in Ireland?
Leopardstown is my favourite. It is a very fair racecourse and a true test of the best horses.
If you weren’t a jockey what would you be?
I am not sure how good I would be, but I would love to give Formula One a go.
If you could ride one horse, what would it be?
I would love to ride Envoi Allen; he is proper racehorse going places.
How do you cope with pressure?
I put in all the hard work in plenty of time before the big days and just let the rest happen.
What mental preparation do you do for the big days?
I’ll go through the form of all the horses and have ‘plan A’ in my head after that you just feel the rhythm.
How do you stay motivated?
I’ll always love riding horses but to see the joy all the team members get from horses winning is great. I ride for some great stables and together we have achieved so much.
How do you deal with dips in form?
You can only go as fast as the horse will take you, give every horse a good ride and the results will come.
Outside of racing, what is your favourite sporting moment?
I am not a big golfing fan but Tiger Woods winning the 2019 Masters was an unbelievable sporting moment to watch.
Can you give us a Netflix/film recommendation?
The Last Dance is a great documentary about Michael Jordan. That man’s work ethic was unbelievable throughout his career.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I have recently discovered Hazelnut Bueno sauce from Swoon, I could spoon feed myself with that.
Desert island discs – name your favourite three songs?
Fleetwood Mac - Don’t Stop
The Killers - Caution
Lupe Fiasco - The Show Goes On
What person do you admire the most and why?
My mother. Her never-back-down attitude would be an inspiration to anybody in any walk of life.
Favourite dinner?
It is very hard to beat a good fillet steak.
Where is your favourite place to go on holidays?
I loved South Africa on a Safari last year. It is something I will definitely do it again.
What ambitions do you still have?
I would love to get myself into a position where I could have a good go at being champion jockey but in the meantime, I would love to win as many big races as possible.
What is the hidden gem of Kilkenny?
The Castle Park is a great spot to go for a walk run or just chillout beneath the trees.
When you think of Kilkenny what immediately springs to mind?
When you think of Kilkenny you have to think of hurling. I am no good at it but to see some of the top players in action, is amazing to watch.
How are you occupying your time during the Covid-19 restrictions?
I am helping my mother out where I can - she has plenty of mares and foals at the moment.
If you had one piece of advice for everyone during these worrying times of Covid-19, what would it be?
Be sensible, like day follows night it will pass. We will all learn how to adapt.
If you were to go back to when you were 20 years old and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Appreciate the now, my life so far has been a dream come true.
Favourite saying/quote?
Never back down.