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Trainer Willie Mullins splits with owner

National Hunt racing has been rocked by a split between champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins and owners Gigginstown House Stud.

Mullins said Gigginstown’s owners, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary and his brother Eddie, refused to pay an increase in training fees and had removed around 60 horses from the stable.

“I put up my fees for the first time in 10 years and Gigginstown chose not to pay them,” Mullins told At The Races.

“Everyone that comes into my yard is treated the same. I see enough people going to the wall in Ireland all the time.

“We’ve evolved our methods of training, which obviously costs a lot, and we’re not prepared to sacrifice that.

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“They’ve been very good to us over the years. They’ve bought some fantastic horses and there’s a fantastic team of horses going to whoever is going to get them, I don’t know where they are going to go.

“Whoever gets the horses will be a big challenge to me being champion trainer, they are a fantastic team of horses.”

Gordon Elliott, who trained Don Cossack to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup for Gigginstown in March, will be one of the trainers to benefit from the split and Paddy Power have made him the new 8-11 favourite to be champion trainer.

In recent times, Mullins has formed an association with Rich Ricci, the owner of 2015 Melbourne Cup runner-up Max Dynamite.

This year he has the Nick Peacock-owned Wicklow Brave heading to Flemington with the Irish St Leger winner the second favourite for the Cup.

Peacock was also a shareholder in Simenon who finished fourth in the 2013 Cup won by Fiorente.

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