The Irish National Hunt racing season draws to a close this week with the traditional Punchestown Racing Festival. While the winners on the course are different every year - often Cheltenham winners struggle to follow-up in late April - what does not change is the winner of the "Leading Trainer" award.
For the 16th year in a row W.P. Mullins will be crowned Champion Irish National Hunt Trainer. What a remarkable feat for the Carlow man who now holds legendary status in Irish racing circles. As Mullins receives his award, Cullentra based trainer Gordon Elliott will finish as runner-up for the 11th year in a row.
Such is the dominance of these "big two" that many other trainers struggle to keep horses in training. The data of prizemoney winnings across the 100 most successful trainers over the past 10 years can help us understand why.
The decline of 2019, 2020 and slow recovery in 2021 and 2022 can be largely explained by two factors; Elliott's training ban and the rise of trainer Henry De Bromhead. The Waterford man has finished 3rd to these two for the past five seasons, and has surpassed €2 million in prizemoney in three of the five.
A closer look at this seasons data confirms that the leading five national hunt trainers (Mullins, Elliott, De Bromhead, Gavin Cromwell and Joseph O'Brien) in the top 100 won more than half of all prizemoney (51.8%). The other 95 trainers, ranked from 6th to 100th, shared the remaining 48.20%.