Emmet Mullins is keeping his feet firmly on the ground as he prepares Noble Yeats to defend his title at the Randox Grand National. The eight-year-old went into last year’s race as a 50-1 underdog, but provided a true fairytale for owner Robert Waley-Cohen and jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, who retired from amateur riding after the race. This year, Sean Bowen will be riding Noble Yeats as he looks to defend his crown.
Despite having won the National last year, Mullins is not resting on his laurels or approaching the race any differently. “It’s all about this year and last year’s done and dusted,” he said. “It’s all about getting back there this year.” Mullins remains confident in Noble Yeats’ abilities, even though the odds seemed to be against him last year as no seven-year-old had won the National since 1940.
Mullins was unaware of this stat and quietly confident in Noble Yeats’ abilities. “He gallops and he jumps, what more do you want?” he said. After last year’s victory, much of the post-race reaction focused on Sam Waley-Cohen and the film-script quality of his final ride resulting in a Grand National winner, but Mullins received a hero’s welcome in his hometown of Carlow.
Noble Yeats has been highly tried this year, having followed a path to the Gold Cup, in which he finished an excellent fourth. Mullins believes this has resulted in his weight going up, making it even harder for him to defend his title. “No one knows until we go again and try,” Mullins said, “but he seems to have come out of it (Cheltenham) well.”
Bowen will be riding Noble Yeats again this year, despite receiving a ban. “Fingers crossed he can keep quiet and we’ll have him in the plate again,” Mullins said. As for the future, Mullins is focused on the present. “I genuinely don’t look at Noble Yeats and think we won it last year,” he said. “We’re in it again this year and that’s his aim.”