Racing, take a
always comes across a bit naff but the entire racing community is entitled to
clap itself on the back after the extraordinary scenes at the Curragh
yesterday. It was fantastic to see the renovated Home of the Classics heaving
and while the four Group 1s were an obvious attraction, the appearance of nine
legendary jockeys in the Pat Smullen Champions Race for CancerTrials Ireland
was a major draw.
That AP McCoy
would claim his first Curragh triumph on board the Sheila Lavery-trained
Quizical, beating off his great friend and long-time rival Ruby Walsh (on
Aussie Valentine) in the process, was a great result, and Lavery spoke
eloquently afterwards about her depth of feeling for Smullen.
This was at
the core of the turnout and at the core of the spectacular money that has been
raised. Privately, Smullen, his wife France and their team of organisers had
been hoping to raise what would have been a staggering €1m from the variety of
events but reports last evening were that this lofty target had been overhauled
to a significant degree.
saying that every penny counted and while some of the huge donations are
obviously vital, it is the selflessness of ordinary people that will live in
the memory. Social media in particular became a force for good and you had
stable staff and jockeys pledging their weekend’s fees/prizes or making
donations. Trainers Ger Lyons and Johnny Murtagh combined to raise €20,000 (and
counting) from a fun-filled but vital campaign.
This was a
mobilisation like never seen before and that was down to Pat Smullen – the
ultimate force for good.
It was fitting
that his employers past and present, Dermot Weld and Moyglare Stud combined
with Chris Hayes, who began the trend of jockeys donating their riding fees,
for Search For A Song to bag a stunning success in the Comer Group Irish St
Leger, a race Smullen won himself four times on Vinnie Roe.
Matthew at it again
It has been a
season to remember for Ado McGuinness, as the Hayestown House trainer maintains
the progression of a career that has been a watchword for improvement since
turning his hand to thoroughbreds after a career in show jumping.
When the Lusk
handler saddled Current Option to prevail in the €150,000 Irish Stallion Farms
EBF Sovereign Path Handicap at Leopardstown on Saturday, it was his 17th
winner of the season. That is his best tally to date and it has been achieved
with 41 less runners than when registering 16 last term.
the prizemoney garnered is €150,000 up on the 2018 PB, at €434,698. That was
helped by Saltonstall finishing a gallant third in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF
Northfields Handicap yesterday, the five-year-old already having made
significant contributions to the pot when taking the spoils in the Colm Quinn
BMW Mile at Galway in July.
Mention of the
Northfields Handicap brings us to another who enjoyed Galway, the Matthew
Smith-trained One Cool Poet. The hero of the last Ballybrit festival, where he
was a three-time victor, made light of a failed venture on Saturday to come
with his now customary withering late run under the in-form Billy Lee to claim
the €88,500 first prize on offer for the DRFG Partnership.
weekend for Ballydoyle
For all that
Aidan O’Brien has been breaking records from the time he took out a training
licence, Longines Irish Champions Weekend has not proven as bountiful as most
observers predicted for the primary training centre on these shores. That isn’t
to say the master of Ballydoyle hasn’t enjoyed the taste of success over the
two days but he certainly hasn’t dominated.
There was a
good spread of winners throughout the weekend once more, the cross-channel
visitors left with plenty of the spoils too, and the likes of McGuinness and
Smith got a share of the significant pot, but O’Brien took more garlands than
anyone else with a four-timer on Saturday and a double yesterday.
undoubtedly the highlight in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes, while Love and
Fairyland added to the Group 1 honours in the Moyglare Stud and Flying Five
Stakes at HQ. Norway, Mogul and Blissful added to the win column and the
general form of the string augurs well for the rest of the season.
successful Harvest Festival came to a conclusion on Saturday. Joseph O’Brien
claimed the opening John Lynch Memorial Maiden Hurdle with Winner Takes Itall
and would later seal a cross-card double with the Group 1 triumph of Iridressa
In the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. In all, O'Brien
saddled four winners at the Kerry venue.
footballers were unable to derail Dublin’s Drive for Five, and the first drawn
encounter prevented Kerry midfielder David Moran carrying out the driving
duties he normally attends to for the best dressed lady on the traditional
Friday Ladies’ DAy, but it was a phenomenal week for the community nonetheless.
Blackmore, Henry de Bromhead and Robcour took the week’s major prize courtesy
of Poker Party in the Guinness Kerry National. It was Blackmore’s first win in
the south west. You wouldn’t expect it to be her last.