Patrick Mullins could turn professional for Cheltenham Festival after ruling on amateurs

The four-day Festival begins on 16 March

Sports Staff
Thursday 25 February 2021 13:32
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Jockey Patrick Mullins
Jockey Patrick Mullins

Patrick Mullins has not dismissed the prospect of turning professional after amateur riders were ruled out of next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

A ruling was made in January that amateurs would be temporarily prevented from competing under rules because of an ongoing rise in Covid-19 infections in Britain.

The move was made by the racing industry’s Covid-19 steering group, which constantly reviews coronavirus protocols to determine how racing can continue to strengthen its approach.

The group said at the time it had reached its decision because it “is in line with Government restrictions around the definition of elite sport and the associated suspension of grassroots sport”.

The four-day Festival begins on 16 March, and in his road map unveiled on Monday for exiting lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a date of 29 March for the resumption of grassroots sport.

Three races at the Festival are confined to amateurs - the National Hunt Chase, Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase and the St James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase.

The most successful amateur of all-time, Mullins could have expected to have a strong book of rides for his father Willie Mullins, including Sharjah in the Unibet Champion Hurdle, Kilcruit in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper and Billaway in the hunter chase.

Mullins - who has four Festival winners to his name to date - said: “I’m very disappointed with the news.”

Asked whether he could consider switching to the professional ranks, he added: “I don’t know. I will have to give very serious thought to whether I turn professional or not.”

PA

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