PAT HEALY: Pat looks ahead to all the action at Listowel during their Harvest Festival meeting….
LISTOWEL HARVEST FESTIVAL
The Harvest Festival is up and running. We had a fantastic opening day on Sunday, with a crowd of 4,300 people and there was a great atmosphere. It was nice to see so many young kids enjoying themselves – we had a pet farm, face painting and balloons, so they all had a great time.
It was a great start to the festival and of course we’re looking forward to Wednesday onward, as they’re our really big days. The Kerry National is our highlight race and is sure to be a fantastic contest with 18 horses declared to run. We have the first and second from the Galway Plate, and last year’s Munster National runner-up Ain’t That A Shame so we’re really looking forward to it.
On Tuesday we have Oisin Murphy coming. He’s going to be riding in Listowel for the first time as, although he’s a Kerry native, he’s never ridden in Kerry. He told me that when he was a young lad growing up here, he used to come racing with his mother, and after racing he’d run around the track pretending he was a jockey. The highest mountain you can climb as a jockey is to be Champion Jockey in England and Oisin has done that three times now, so it’s fantastic and we’re thrilled that he’s taken time out of his schedule to come and ride at the Harvest Festival.
Tuesday is also a students’ day, so we’ll have 500 students from the colleges at Limerick and Tralee coming and I’m sure they’ll make for a great atmosphere.
Ticket sales have been strong and the town is booked up for accommodation, so we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone. For anyone who hasn’t been, Listowel is a fantastic town, with a great community and I suppose it’s the last real community-based race meeting. It’s in the town, and you can walk to the racecourse from the centre in five minutes.
There’s plenty to do besides racing. It’s a great social event, the pubs are amazing and there’s great craic to he had. If you are coming for a couple of nights, there’s loads to do in the surrounding area. The world famous Ballybunion Golf Course is only nine miles up the road, Tralee Golf Course is only 25 minutes away.
Laytown hosted their annual race meeting last week. It’s a unique fixture in the calendar, there’s nowhere like it. The committee there, lead by Jessica Cahalan, were rewarded with fantastic weather and a huge crowd turned out on the beach to see the races.
Thankfully everything went well. I’m sure that when you’re trying to host a meeting on the beach, the logistics aren’t easy. Before racing, Clerk of the Course Brendan Sheridan, has to rock up at 10 in the morning to find a line on the beach of 20 yards across that the horses can race up safely, to make sure there are no sandbanks or deep puddles or anything like that.
If you haven’t been to Laytown, it’s definitely worth putting on your list for next year. The fixture is going to be run on the Monday after Champions Weekend in 2024, so if anybody from overseas is thinking of planning a trip, make sure to pencil in Irish Champions weekend and then stay over on the Sunday to go racing at Laytown the following day.
Continuous wins the Leger
What a performance it was by Continuous in winning the final Classic of the season, giving Aidan O’Brien and Ballydoyle their seventh English St Leger. From the time the gates opened it never looked in doubt, and you could call him the winner for almost the whole way.
I’m sure if he stays in training next year, he’s going to be a serious Cup horse. Of course, Ballydoyle already have Kyprios, who made his reappearance at the Curragh just over a week ago, but they now also have another string to their bow for the Cup races in Continuous.
The Arc has also been mentioned, which is only two weeks away, but he’s a very lightly raced horse and if Aidan decides to take him to Longchamp, I’m sure the reason will be pretty good. We’ll look forward to seeing him wherever he turns up next.
The Leger Legends race is a great event, run for some very important charities, and I know all the jockeys look forward to it. Congratulations to Tom Scudamore, who was obviously one of the fellows that hung up his boots this year. He had a ‘push-button’ ride, but it was fun to watch and the event got good traction on social media. Well done Doncaster for putting it on and for getting all the riders over from Ireland for it.