Willie Mullins absent from Royal Ascot following 'small procedure'

‘He’ll be back and fighting fit in a short while’, says principal owner Rich Ricci

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Champion Irish National Hunt trainer Willie Mullins is missing from Royal Ascot this week through ill health.

Mullins, who has trained six winners at the big meeting, has undergone a “small procedure”, according to Rich Ricci, who owns many of the stable stars at Closutton.

Mullins enjoyed another hugely successful campaign last season, winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup for the first time with Al Boum Photo, adding the Punchestown Gold Cup with Kemboy and also landing a maiden Irish Grand National triumph, courtesy of Burrows Saint.

Ricci told ITV Racing: “He’s had a small procedure, but he’ll be fine.

“We’re not sure of the cause of it, but like the rest of us we’re getting older and in need of a little maintenance.

“He’ll be back and fighting fit in a short while, he’s fine, he just won’t be here this week.”

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