Nichols Canyon has David Mullins living the dream
Last Updated: 24/12/15 3:49pm
Tasting success at the highest level is something every jockey has high on their priority list at the start of their career.
For some that moment may come almost instantaneously, for others it may take much longer before that ambition is fulfilled, while there are those for whom it will be something that only ever remains a dream.
One rider who is a fully-fledged member of the Grade One club is David Mullins, son of trainer Tom Mullins, and nephew of the all-conquering Willie Mullins.
Back in November the 19-year-old, who at the time still claimed 3lb, dented the reputation of the unbeaten and reigning Champion Hurdle hero Faugheen with victory aboard the Closutton handler's supposed second string Nichols Canyon in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
It is a day he recalls with immense satisfaction.
He said: "It was great. I didn't really expect to beat Faugheen, but we were hopeful. Perhaps he (Nichols Canyon) was underestimated.
"He won four Grade One races and unseated in another and he was maybe a bit unlucky at Cheltenham where he had beaten the winner (Windsor Park) before.
"A horse that wins four Grade Ones has to have a chance whatever race he goes for, no matter who the favourite is.
"He is a proper Grade One horse. I didn't know what to think at the time and still don't, but it was great to get a big race on the board like that."
While the betting had the two-mile contest, which for the previous three seasons had been won by the mighty Hurricane Fly, as a one-horse race on paper that was far from the case for Mullins, with him feeling confident aboard the Graham and Andrea Wylie-owned five-year-old throughout his seasonal return.
He said: "I knew I wasn't going to stop. He just felt alive underneath me the whole way.
"He was in great form and he came up out of my hands at the first one down the back and he just felt like he was on springs
"He was settled, but every time I gave him a squeeze he was there for me. Any doubts we had turning in were put away when he quickened up down to the last and how he quickened away from the back of it."
Although he can now look back on the race with great fondness, riding the now five-times Grade One winner came as a bit of a surprise to the youngster, who thought his opportunity to ride in the race may have come elsewhere.
He said: "I'm very lucky and grateful to Willie and to Graham and Andrea Wylie for giving me the opportunity really.
"I'd rode him a few times at the start of the season. I knew Paul (Townend) was going to Cork and Danny (Mullins) was going to Cheltenham and I actually thought I might be riding Wicklow Brave in the race.
"It wasn't until 11.30am that I saw my name put down beside him that I knew. That was probably the most surprising part of it all, getting the ride on him."
Having enjoyed a whirlwind 12 months in the saddle since turning professional, Mullins feels the success he has already achieved in the sport would not have happened had it not been for help and advice granted to him from some of the best in the business.
He said: "On the way back in Ruby (Walsh) said 'Well done'. He is a big help to me and I ride work with him three days a week at Willie's. If it wasn't for Ruby there would be plenty of things I wouldn't know.
"Danny Mullins and Paul Townend are also big influences. I am in the car a good bit with them. They are two great riders that have influenced me a lot."
With his first Grade One success safely in the locker, looking forward to the future Mullins has one simple aim he hopes will move his career onwards and propel him to the next level.
He said: "All I want to do know is just to ride as many winners as I can and keep on smiling."