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Paddy Mullins calls time on 52-year career; Trainer of Dawn Run and Vintage Tipple to hand over licence to son Tom.

Byline: BRIAN FLEMING

PADDY MULLINS brought his long career to a close in low-key fashion at Thurles yesterday when Miss Toulon, his last runner as a licensed trainer, could finish only fourth as 2-1 favourite.

Mullins, 86, trainer of the legendary mare Dawn Run, said: ``I've decided not to renew my licence, as it was getting a bit too much for me.

``Tom, my son, will take over.'' Mullins' achievements as a trainer spanned 52 years. His first winner was Flash Parade in the La Touche Memorial Cup at Punchestown on April 29, 1953.

He saddled countless big-race winners on the Flat and over jumps during an illustrious career which belatedly included a first Classic success with Vintage Tipple in the 2003 Irish Oaks.

There were marvellous scenes in the winner's enclosure after Frankie Dettori had ridden the filly to victory. It was a remarkable training performance, as Mullins restored her to health after she had sustained a hairline fracture of her cannonbone.

Later that year he added a memorable Galway Plate success with Nearly A Moose, a race he also won in 1986 with Boro Quarter.

However, the victory of Hurry Harriet in the 1973 Champion Stakes at Newmarket was even better, according to Mullins.

He said: ``That race was the highlight of my career, as she beat the best filly in Europe, Allez France. Dawn Run was another great mare, having won the Champion Hurdle in 1984 before going back to win the Gold Cup two years later.''

Dawn Run's exploits aside, the Cheltenham Festival was a lucky hunting ground for the extraordinary trainer.

Other wins included Counsel Cottage in the 1977 Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle and Hazy Dawn in the 1982 National Hunt Chase. Mullins won that race for the second time in 1984 with Mack's Friendly, partnered by his son Willie.

Herring Gull's victory in the 1968 Totalisator Champion (now Royal & SunAlliance) Novices' Chase was the first Cheltenham Festival success for the Goresbridge maestro.

Herring Gull went on to win the Irish Grand National that same year, and the trainer's other three winners of that F airyhouse Easter highlight were Vulpine (1967), Dim Wit (1972) and Luska (1981).

The Thurles executive marked yesterday's largely unheralded retirement by presenting Mullins with a bottle of champagne.

Mullins snr is the father of trainers W illie and Tom and daughter Sandra McCarthy, while son George is involved in the horse-transport business.

Tom Mullins, who has the unenviable task of following in his father's footsteps, said afterwards: ``I hope it will be a smooth transition and in total we'll have 30 horses in training from Monday.

``Dad will still be there overseeing the operation, as it's his yard, and hopefully it will work out well.''

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Paddy Mullins: the 86-year-old won many races at the Cheltenham Festival as well as an Irish Oaks
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2005
Words:474
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