PAT HEALY: In this week’s blog Pat starts with Frankie’s flying visit to Leopardstown where his bid for success in the Saval Beg was thwarted by Jessica Harrington’s Yashin who could now be Melbourne Cup bound …
Jessica Harrington raising the bar
Frankie [Dettori] added a bit of razmataz to Leopardstown last Friday evening. He came over to ride Stratum for Willie Mullins in the Saval Beg.
He was out of luck as the race was won by Yashin for Jessica Harrington (pictured below) and Shane Foley. It was a really good performance and there was talk afterwards that he could be earmarked for the Ebor and a tilt at the Melbourne Cup.
That’s great news for Jessica and her team. Every year she raises the bar by her own standards, she’s an amazing woman. We know she’s going through a tough journey at the minute with cancer. I have to say it isn’t slowing her down – she’s a tough woman and someone I greatly admire.
Of course, she also has a live Derby contender with Sprewell, and we wish her the best going forward in the next few months.
White Birch in the Dante
John Murphy’s White Birch ran a blinder to be second in the Dante. Earlier this season he won the Ballysax in Leopardstown and is well entitled to rock up in Epsom.
Shane Foley goes along year after year with no Derby ride and now suddenly he has two live chances to make a choice between with White Birch and Sprewell, who won the Leopardstown Derby Trial. It’s funny the way it turns out. Shane will have a tough decision to make in terms of which one to ride. He’ll probably have to ride Sprewell as he’s Jessie’s stable jockey, but I’m sure if he does, he’ll be keeping an eye on White Birch during the race because he goes there with a live chance.
The Foxes was a game winner of the Dante for Oisin Murphy and Andrew Balding. He’s by Churchill, who is a hot sire at the moment. Passenger looked to be unlucky in behind and you couldn’t discount any of them if they turn up at Epsom on Saturday next week.
I took last Saturday off to go to Killarney to watch Kerry play Mayo. I have to say it was disappointing, Mayo beat us and beat us well. We never looked like winning on the day and Mayo were value for their win. Even though we won the All-Ireland last year, in racing terms I think we have a few pounds to find if we’re to win the Sam Maguire this year!
We had a brilliant day out. Fitzgerald Stadium is a super venue, and Killarney is a great town. There was great craic and after the match we swapped a few bottles of beer with our Mayo friends.
Final day of the Point-to-Point season
On Sunday I was at Inchydoney Point-to-Point, which is just outside the town of Clonakilty. It’s a fantastic natural theatre for a Point-to-Point, overlooking the Bay of Clonakilty.
It was the final day of the Point-to-Point season and there was a great crowd and atmosphere. If you’re looking to visit an Irish Point-to-Point this would be one that you’d have to have on your list.
We want to congratulate all the champions. Of course, Barry O’Neill, who was Champion Point-to-Point Rider for the seventh time. Barry is attached to the Colin Bowe yard, and it was Colin’s 11th title as Champion Trainer.
Even though Barry is attached to the leading yard, it’s not an easy thing to do. He puts in the miles, riding north, south, east and west, and he’s as good a rider as we’ve seen down the years. We want to pass on our congratulations to Barry.
We can’t forget Maxine O’Sullivan too. Again, Maxine is not shy of hard work and she picked up a much-deserved sixth Champion Lady Rider title. She’s tasted Cheltenham success in the Foxhunters and is as good a lady rider as we’ve seen. We want to say a big well done to her.
To accomplish all those titles there’s a lot of hard work involved, a lot of early mornings, and a lot of driving. To stay at the top for so long takes a lot of graft, so fair play to them.
First Point-to-Point winners
Over the weekend there was a two-day meeting in Ballingarry alongside Sunday’s Inchydoney meeting, and five young riders celebrated their maiden Point-to-Point successes. They were Frankie Murphy, Luke Carberry, Sophie Carter and Jack Sutton. In Inchadoney, James Cousins also recorded his first victory.
We just want to pass on our congratulations and wish them all the best going forward in their careers as jockeys.
Irish success in Auteuil
Well done to Willie [Mullins] and his team. They brought over nine horses to Auteuil and they had success in the Grade One four-year-old hurdle with Gala Marceau, ridden by Danny Mullins. I’m sure the Mullins team will be happy to come home with one win under their belt.
Shark Hanlon claimed some good prize money as Hewick did him proud once again, finishing fourth in the French Champion Hurdle.
I’m sure the Irish contingent in Paris enjoyed themselves and it was good to get one Irish winner over there.
Until next week.