Thousand Stars: Talented and consistent in equal measure
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Jennings 2:25PM 2 SEP 2016
WILLIE MULLINS has paid tribute to Thousand Stars, describing the gallant grey as an “iron horse” after he was retired due to injury.
The 12-year-old is also close to the heart of Katie Walsh, who believes he was one of the catalysts for her hugely successful career.
Thousand Stars was retired by Mullins after picking up a small stress fracture but if ever a horse deserved a happy retirement it is the popular son of Grey Risk who won 13 of his 80 outings and was placed on 23 other occasions.
He landed the 2010 County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and back-to-back runnings of the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil in 2011 and 2012 under Ruby Walsh.
His sister Katie, who was on board 17 times including the County Hurdle triumph, felt Thousand Stars played a huge part in her career development and recalled the festival success as one of the greatest days of her career.
She said: “He was just a favourite of everyone. I got to ride him in so many Grade 1s and the day I won the County Hurdle on him at Cheltenham was really special. It was like he had joined in halfway up the home straight and he won really well.
“I won a handicap hurdle on him in the fog at Fairyhouse one day and I suppose we thought he would probably be a decent handicapper. We never imagined he would end up being such a star.
“Everybody loves a grey and he seemed to capture the public’s imagination. To be honest, he was probably unlucky to be around in the same time as Hurricane Fly and would have won even more races had Hurricane Fly not been around.”
‘He saved everything for the track’
Mullins has had numerous superstars pass through his hands but he had a special affection for Thousand Stars who always saved his best for the track.
“He was an iron horse,” Mullins said. “He was tough and sound. He never showed off at home. You would never see him do a flashy piece of work but he saved everything for the track. He was a favourite of everyone in the yard and had his own style of running.”
The trainer added: “We had been thinking about retiring him and then he picked up a small stress fracture which required a few weeks of rest so that made up our minds for us. He owes us nothing and has been a great servant.”