John Mullins does not support the campaign led by the Racing Post – through its Muttley Column (see Saturday) – which seems to urge a boycott of the St.Leger due to the reduction in prize money. The 2018 event, without TV coverage or sponsor, is reduced to 24 runners and carries a winner’s prize of £5,500 (from £25,000) and total prize money of £12,500.
Mullins said: “What has happened, with the loss of the sponsor and no TV isn’t good. I am not saying I am happy about it. But the Leger is still well worth running for and I am just glad that it is taking place. The most important thing is that we haven’t lost the event.
“I’m not having this bull**** about the prestige. These things have happened to lots of the big competitions over the years but will anybody look back in 20 years and say, ‘that Leger win doesn’t count because the prize money is down?’ Does anybody say ‘Danny Riordan won the best English Derby ever because it had the most prize money’?
“As for the Derby, what will happen with that next year? If that prize money is down, do we boycott that as well? I would always plan to have runners in both.”
Mullins believes the loss of Towcester is by far a bigger disaster for the sport than the loss of SKY or other issues created by the media rights battle.
He said: “Open race trainers need venues like Towcester to run their dogs. Without them we really are in trouble. The Derby at Towcester was like the World Cup for football fans. It gave everyone optimism about the sport. Even if it was re-opened just for open racing, I’d be there in a heartbeat.”
The multi ‘Cat 1′ winning trainer also disputes that the tracks’ running surfaces are generally in worse condition than this time last year.
He said: “Sometimes in the summer the tracks are too fast, and I recently I had a go at one track where the bottom grade dogs were doing open class times. That is just asking for trouble. But injuries are always bad in the summer and the reason there are so many this year is because of the increase in racing. If I do twice as many miles in my van, it needs twice as many services.
“It amazes me that some trainers put their dogs away in the winter when the tracks are soft and safer and run them in the summer when they are faster and more likely to get injuries. Maybe its because we always used to race on grass and the tracks froze in the winter.”