A busy time ahead for racing, weather permitting, as there is a race meeting every day this week. We started off in Galway on Monday and will finish up at the Curragh on Sunday with the Bank Of Scotland National Stakes Group 1 for two- -year-olds.
More about that later, but just a little round up on last weekend"s happenings as the weather nearly got the better of racing and the authorities did well to save the big meeting at Leopardstown. I think the figure was in the region of 45mls of rain fell on Friday and it necessitated the transfer of Saturday"s card to Sunday in the hope of saving it and running the very important pair of Group 1 races.
This just proves that meetings can be saved if the desire is there and it is not that hard to reschedule meetings, it shouldn"t just be done to save Group 1 races.
Dundalk had their thunder well and truly stolen on Sunday, not only due to the happenings at Leopardstown, but also because something called an All-Ireland hurling final was taking place at Croke Park! While they are obviously two totally different sports they are competing in a small market place, relatively speaking, for the same audience and I think that clashes on the big days should be avoided if at all possible. A very good tough consistent filly in Lush Lashes winning her third Group 1, her second inside three weeks, took the Matron Stakes. She is typical of all her trainer"s horses in that they are supremely tough and are very hard to pass when they are in front. I have said it in the past, but no other trainer has the key to the progeny of Galileo like Jim Bolger does and he single-handedly is making Galileo a superstar stallion.
The main event at Leopardstown was obviously the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes and although it was devalued by the withdrawal of the Duke Of Marmalade, we still had this year"s Derby winner, New Approach, competing and flying the flag for the three-year-olds. Another son of Galileo, also trained by Bolger, was sent off odds-on favourite and looked a penalty kick if at his best.
Personally, I believe this colt has run below his best on his last two starts and although he won on Sunday I feel he is not the same force now as he was at the start of the season. Still, he is back to winning ways and has added another Group 1 to his CV and no doubt will be an attractive prospect at stud.
You would have to think that all is not as it should be with the Duke? As far back as last Wednesday the Bookies ceased trading on this race and if it was as simple as ground conditions then the horse would have at least travelled up on Sunday before connections pulled him and as the ground turned out, it wasn"t that bad. It amazes me (albeit naively) how the Bookies know what"s happening in stables, they very rarely are wrong, if ever. It was a shame to see Henrythenavigator beaten in France, but his form on soft ground is not good and I believe we will see him back to his best in America at the Breeders Cup.
My own little superstar Fiery Lad won his fifth race of the season and his fourth at Dundalk when he won the main event the Amigo Horsewear Handicap under a good ride from our leading apprentice Emmet McNamara.
He will, if in good fettle, turn out again at the same track on Friday, 26th September for a listed race against older horses over the same trip. The fantastic spectacle that is Laytown races will feature this Thursday, it is the only official race meeting that is held on the beach and always attracts a good crowd and a carnival atmosphere.
For safety reasons the card is made up of six races ranging from six furlongs to seven furlongs for four-year-olds and upwards which have run at least three times in public.
No horse is allowed to wear any headgear like blinkers and apprentices or amateur riders claiming seven pounds or more are not allowed to ride. The maximum runners in a race is 10. I fail to understand why the weights on this day have to be so excessively high! For example, in the races for professionals, the top weight is 11 stone while on a normal day it is around 10 stone.
Why the extra stone? Surely the same riders are riding the horses as usual so why the excess weights? I understand the predicament with the qualified riders as they are heavier lads, but as there are only 10 allowed to run in the race, the weight-band from top to bottom isn"t any more than four or five pounds. Why oh why are they asking horses to carry 12st 4lbs?
This needs to be addressed because it is not right and shows a distinct lack of understanding of the system. I hold a couple of entries for the card purely to try and give Andrew Duff a winner for the yard as he is an integral part of the operation here at Glenburnie and it would be nice to repay him with a winner.
I may run Rockazar in the claimer to give Keagan Latham a taste of Laytown, as it will open his eyes to "real" Irish racing. Cork and Tramore have been given an extra meeting apiece this Friday and I would hope, ground permitting, to have some runners at Cork. The two-day Curragh meeting starts on Saturday and the big race is the Group 1 Irish Field St Leger.
The entry of 19 includes the incomparable Yeats as the stand-out horse although Septimus is the intended runner at this stage from the Ballydoyle camp.
This race clashes with the English St. Leger at Doncaster on Saturday, but the difference between the two races is that only three year olds can run in the English version. Aidan O"Brien will try to win the oldest of the classics with the Irish Derby winner Frozen Fire, but he will have another classic winner to beat as the Oaks winner Look Here is reported on course for the race and Irish man Eddie Ahern is booked to ride.
My opinion, for what its worth, is that our Derby winner did not get the credit he deserved when winning the Irish race due to the shenanigans of his stable companion Alessandro Volta. The Oaks form is definitely holding up well and the filly will prove a worthy opponent, but I think the Ballydoyle colt will come out on top. The big race on Sunday is, as I alluded to earlier, The Bank Of Scotland (Ireland) National Stakes. While the ground will play a significant roll in what runs on the day, my advice would be to follow the John Oxx colt, Arazan. This is a half brother to the great Azamour and I have really liked what I have seen him do so far on the track.
Allied to the fact that if you were to follow a stable for the rest of the season then it would have to be the Oxx yard as he is hitting top form right now and I believe he has some lovely horses yet to run (don"t say I didn"t warn you!) Have a good week and I hope you back a few winners.
Visit the Ger Lyons website: www.gerlyons.ie