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David Mullins Retirement - "The bad times definitely outweighed the good"

  • We bring you the shock news that jockey David Mullins has decided to retire from riding with immediate effect
  • Mullins rode numerous Grade One winners and won the 2016 Grand National on Rule The World
  • The 24-year-old revealed he thought it would be unfair to carry on "when my heart wasn't in it"
david mullins
David Mullins reacts after riding Faugheen to win The Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown in 2018. (Getty)

Grade One and Grand National-winning jockey, David Mullins announced he will retire from riding immediately.

The 24-year-old, son of trainer Thomas Mullins and nephew of Willie Mullins, enjoyed plenty of success during his time in the saddle. Mullins guided Bellshill to victory in the Punchestown Gold Cup, rode Kemboy to a brilliant win in the Savills Chase, and helped Nichols Canyon become the first horse to defeat Faugheen when they upstaged the 1/6 favourite in the 2015 Morgiana Hurdle.

Mullins' finest hour came at Aintree in 2016, where he rode 33/1 shot Rule The World to victory in the Grand National. You can watch a full replay of the 2016 Grand National in the video below.

In October 2019, David suffered fractures to his back and collarbone following an awful fall at Thurles. That, however, played no bearing on his decision to retire, Mullins' claimed in an exclusive interview with the Racing Post.

"I was 23 at the time and that didn't bother me at all. Bones heal." Mullins said during his retirement announcement. "I think anybody in racing who knows me will know that it wasn't the main motive behind my decision,"

"I was definitely going to retire at the end of this season, but it would have been unfair to owners and trainers if I continued to ride on any longer when my heart wasn't in it."

"There was always an excuse if things didn't go well. You'd have it in the back of your mind: 'ah, sure it doesn't really matter because I'm retiring at the end of the season anyway.' I know people will say that it's a stupid time to retire but, when my decision was made, there was no point in continuing."

Having been born into a family so heavily invested in racing, it was only natural for David to get involved. Some would call him lucky to be part of the Mullins dynasty, and to have high-profile opportunities handed to him at such a young age. David, however, puts a very different spin on his life story.

"When you leave school at 16 you feel trapped into being a jockey. It's relentless. There is no break. You're always on call. If you decide not to go to Sligo for one ride on a 33-1 shot you're called a lazy f***** for not getting up off your arse and going. And, I've been called that many times. I had disagreements with my agent over it. He would get annoyed and I suppose I can see where he was coming from."

"I'm not saying there is anything wrong with going to Sligo or Ballinrobe or anywhere for one ride, and I've done it myself over the years, but I just found that as a jockey you were always on call and never got a break. I've been trying to figure out loads of different things to do, but when you're in the bubble it can be very hard to think outside of that bubble."

"The bad times definitely outweighed the good. There were times when I might ride a winner, but I would come home depressed because the other three didn't win."

"The money is good if you're riding plenty of winners and every jockey out there is fully entitled to every penny they earn because it's not easy. But, at the end of the day, there is not much job or financial security. I didn't want to end up being 35 years of age and having to start up something from the bottom. I'd rather be 24 and doing that. "

While his love for riding may have steadily diminished, it's clear David Mullins will remain in the sport of horse racing. For now, it seems the sales ring is where his true passion lies, but it wouldn't be a shock to see Mullins make the move into training, over the coming years.

"I love the sales and I really enjoy going to Goffs or Tatts and buying and selling horses. I like judging horses and trying to figure out what they might make. I'd be keeping an eye on that all the time. But, when you're on call as a jockey there is not much time to get to the sales and do what I like to do."

"I have a nice few horses of my own at the moment, including a few show-jumpers. I'd love to buy a few more. I bought Court Maid for very small money and she didn't turn out too bad, so the buying and selling of horses is something I would definitely hope to get more involved in. I get as much of a buzz out of that as I did riding winners."

David Mullins will still have both eyes fixed on the Cheltenham Festival, which starts in eight week's time. Court Maid finished third behind Storm Control on her first start around Prestbury Park in November, and she's currently a 25/1 shot with Paddy Power to win the 2021 Ultima Handicap Chase.
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