Mullins completes unprecedented Cesarewitch double with Royal Illusion romp

Willie Mullins is well used to big weekends, but they tend to arrive in winter or spring. Never autumn.

Mullins is usually in warm-up mode at this time of the year but an unprecedented Cesarewitch double, completed by Royal Illusion in the Tote-sponsored Irish equivalent at the Curragh, confirmed that Ireland's champion jumps trainer is already firing on all cylinders.

If any further evidence was needed, it was provided down in Limerick ten minutes later when Cabaret Queen cantered away with the Munster National.

The Royal Illusion romp came as a shock to Mullins, just like Stratum's success at Newmarket. He did not fancy either of them. He might not be a great tipster, but he is most definitely a great trainer.

"I didn't expect this at all. I was chatting to Dessie Scahill [former racecourse commentator] and he was congratulating me about Stratum," Mullins said. "I told him I didn't fancy Stratum at all and that Royal Illusion wouldn't win either so he said 'that's great, I'll double my stake on Royal Illusion now!'"

"I'm delighted Dessie has a few quid on but I didn't think she would go in the ground. There you are. You just never know."

The trainer added: "We have a nice team of staying Flat horses and it’s good to make use of them."

Mullins might be used to winning big handicaps, but for 17-year-old Joey Sheridan this was the biggest victory if his career and he did it in style too, shoving the 10-1 shot out to score by eight and a half lengths.

The Dermot Weld-trained Dalton Highway was second, while Rock De Baune was a further two and a quarter lengths back in third, but this was a one-horse race for most of the home straight.

Saglawy, sent off the 4-1 favourite under Colin Keane, was supposed to be the best of the Mullins quartet but he faded into 13th.