PAT HEALY: In this week’s blog Pat looks back at Paddington’s win in the Irish 2,000 Guineas on Saturday and also looks ahead to Derby Day at Epsom this Saturday and the Irish challenge …

Paddington proves best

Last weekend was all about the Curragh. You couldn’t have written it with the weather, there was a great atmosphere and we had fantastic racing.

The highlights of course were the Guineas. On Saturday, Paddington stamped himself as maybe Aidan’s [O’Brien] best three-year-old. It was a good performance and marked Aidan’s 12th Irish 2000 Guineas win (pictured below).

It was good that the two English horses, Royal Scotsman and Hi Royal, came over, so we had the English Guineas form represented and Paddington put them in their place. There’s plenty to look forward to now and hopefully Paddington will take on Chaldean in Royal Ascot and we’ll see whether it’s the Irish three-year-old or the English three-year-old that comes out on top.

Tahirya and Chris Hayes

On Sunday we had the Irish 1000 Guineas and what a performance from Tahiyra. We all love Tahiyra; we loved her when she won the Moyglare on Champions Weekend at the Curragh last season.

With everything that DK [Dermot Weld] said about her not quite coming to hand in time for the English Guineas, the two weeks of fine weather that we’ve had brought her on for Sunday, and it was a fantastic performance. Meditate is no slow coach, she’s just unlucky in that she’s met Tahiyra in her last two Group 1s.

It was a brilliant success for Chris ‘Magic Man’ Hayes. I think Chris fits the mould of a typical Irish jockey in that he himself classes himself as a journeyman jockey, but he’s obviously above that level. Tahirya’s success just shows you that given the right tools, Chris is as good a carpenter as anyone. Another Classic success is much deserved for the man from Shanagolden in County Limerick.

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Luxembourg and Little Big Bear bounce back

In the Gold Cup, Vadeni had an off day, but you can’t take away from the performance of Luxembourg (pictured below). Aidan got him back on track. He was an awesome winner of the Irish Champion Stakes last season and then the ground probably went against him in the Arc.

I think this year we’re blessed with a strong crop of older horses. We’ve got Luxembourg, Vadeni, who can get back on track, and in the Brigadier Gerard at Sandown last Thursday we saw Hukum and Desert Crown, so I think we have a generation of brilliant older horses in that division. We’re going to see some great clashes, and it’s going to be interesting to see who comes out on top in the next couple of months.

At Haydock on Saturday, what a magnificent performance it was by Aidan once again to get Little Big Bear back on track after his English 2000 Guineas disappointment. He’s found his niche now – being a sprinter – and I suppose the one thing to take out of that is Auguste Rodin now has to come back into the reckoning for the Derby on Saturday.

It would be another magnificent training performance if he can get Auguste Rodin to rock up and win the Derby, but after what he did with Little Big Bear, you’d have to be brave to say he won’t do it again.

Epsom Derby

This week is all about the Epsom Derby. I’ll be heading over for Friday and Saturday and I’m really looking forward to it.

It’s an open race, they all have their chances. Auguste Rodin must come back into calculations after Ballydoyle’s performance last weekend. Chester winner Arrest looks to hold a strong chance.

Maybe the Dante in York looked the strongest trial, where The Foxes and White Birch fought out the finish. Passenger looked a bit unlucky that day to finish only fourth, so he enters calculations too.

Then Jessie’s [Harrington] Leopardstown Derby Trial winner Sprewell also has a live chance.

I’m hoping for an Irish winner. I like White Birch and if I was having something each-way, it would be on the John Murphy horse.

John won the two-mile Champion Chase at Cheltenham a few years back with a horse called Newmill and Jessie won the same race the year before with Moscow Flyer. Here we have both Jessie and John going for the biggest prize of them all on the Flat.

It would be great for Irish racing if John or Jessie could land themselves in the hallowed winners’ enclosure at Epsom. We wish them all the best.

Mark Enright retirement

Last weekend also saw the retirement of Mark ‘Fish’ Enright. Mark is a proper fella, he’s great fun and great craic. His story has been well documented, he told us all a couple of years ago that he was suffering from depression, but with the help of Dr Adrian McGoldrick, he thankfully got back on track.

Fair play to Mark, he decided the time was right to hang up his saddle. He had a lovely send off at the Curragh, his colleagues gave him a guard of honour and his daughter Sophie held his hand as he walked into the parade ring for his final ride for his good friend Denis Hogan.

He rode over 220 winners in his career, the highlight being winning the Galway Plate on Clarcam for Gordon Elliott in 2018.

He’s only 31 years of age so hopefully he’ll find a job that he’s happy with, and hopefully it’ll be in racing, so we’ll get to see him most days. We wish him the best of luck in his next chapter.

Listowel season gets underway

In Listowel we kick off our year on Saturday, with our three-day meeting which extends to the Bank Holiday on Monday. We’ve two Flat days on Saturday and Sunday and then an all-National Hunt card on Monday.

With the warm weather and the forecast to be fine for the week, we’ll be watering the track from Wednesday on.

Everybody’s guaranteed to have a great time when they come to Listowel. We’re really looking forward to it and hopefully everything will go well for the three days.

Until next week.

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