“You see plenty of videos on Facebook and Twitter of jockeys’ kids beating the back of the couches with Racing TV on or RTÉ Sport on in the background. I was never one of those kids.”
David Mullins has spoken about the reasons he has decided to retire as a jockey at the age of just 24.
Mullins’ biggest win in the saddle came in the 2016 Aintree Grand National when he guided Rule The World around Liverpool for trainer Mouse Morris and the Gigginstown team. He was only 19 and destined for big things.
However, despite a few notable Grade One victories, including Kemboy in the 2018 Savills Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas festival, he never quite fulfilled his potential.
“I decided to leave school. I wasn’t putting in the effort and I just became attached to horses, through my father who was training and producing them,” Mullins told RTÉ’s Saturday Sport.
“When you’re 16, you don’t have much else to do because I’d made the decision to leave school. The obvious thing to do was to ride horses.
“You see plenty of videos on Facebook and Twitter of jockeys’ kids beating the back of the couches with Racing TV on or RTÉ Sport on in the background. I was never one of those kids.
“I was out with a hurl or going away show jumping for the weekend. There were horses in the background, that was basically it.
“It just became the natural thing for me to do when I did leave school with my father being a trainer and my uncle being a champion trainer.
“That was the path I was going to go down.”
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) December 28, 2018
2016 Grand National.
Mullins father is, of course, Tom Mullins with Willie Mullins his uncle. Nevertheless, it was for Michael O’Leary and Mouse Morris that gave the 24-year-old the biggest win of his career.
While winning the Grand National was a massive highlight, Mullins struggled to deal with going back to lower grade races afterwards.
“I think 600 million people watched the Grand National. My next ride was the following Friday at half eight at night in Ballinrobe. I think he was 25-1. He pulled up,” Mullins explained.
“I don’t think there were too many people watching that. You’re not competing at the same level the whole time. You’re only seeing the good days, the big days.
“Ballinrobe at half eight in a low-grade handicap chase, there’s not as much pressure on you when you’re that price.”
Good luck David Mullins (@davym15) with all your future adventures. 👊
🐴 The jockey has announced he is retiring from riding at the age of 24.
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 20, 2021
Mullins describes a lack of “hunger” and felt other jockeys in the weighing room wanted to win a lot more than he did.
“I didn’t have the hunger for it and there were a lot more jockeys lined up behind me that would lose a limb just to try and get into the position I was in.
“I’m very grateful. This sport owes me nothing. I’ve had some amazing days out of it.”