PAT HEALY: Pat looks back on Irish Champions weekend including Auguste Rodin’s stunning bounceback to form. Aidan stole all the headlines as the weekend also brought up his 4,000th career win.
Tahiyra and Auguste Rodin light up Leopardstown
We had a fantastic two days over Irish Champions Weekend, with top-class racing and brilliant stories.
What can you say about Auguste Rodin (pictured below) ? What a performance by Aidan [O’Brien] and his Ballydoyle team, as while he’s obviously a magnificent racehorse, he clearly has his issues. After a blowup in the King George, to get him back to win a Group 1 on his next run is amazing. Everyone has heard the superlatives about Aidan, but this has to be up there with his greatest achievements. It was part of a four-timer on the day that he and Ryan Moore shared.
The other Group 1 was won by Tahiyra. We’ve spoken about Tahirya plenty of times since her Moyglare win at last year’s Irish Champions Festival. She’s a filly we’re very fond of and she was awesome for Dermot Weld and Chris Hayes in the Matron Stakes.
I think both Auguste Rodin and Tahiyra are now being aimed at the Breeders’ Cup, which is in Santa Anita on the first weekend of November. Hopefully they’ll be two of many Irish winners at the Californian venue.
The other standout success for me was the victory of Kitty Rose, for the small County Down stable of Natalia Lupini and her partner Craig Bryson. A filly by Invincible Army, she was very impressive at Naas on her debut at the end of August. The talk on the street is that the owners turned down an awful lot of money to live the dream and they were rewarded on Saturday with another impressive performance. She’s a valuable commodity now, and is a filly to look forward to for next season.
4000 up at the Curragh
The big story on Sunday was Aidan O’Brien (pictured below) yet again as he accomplished his 4000th career success when Henry Longfellow won the National Stakes. His first came in June 1993 with a horse called Wandering Thoughts, ridden by Pat Gilson, at Tralee.
Looking back at the pictures, 30 years later Aidan still has no grey hair. He’s an amazing man, but as he will tell you himself, he has an amazing team behind him, and no more so than his wife Annemarie. Behind every great man, we know is a greater woman and Annemarie was a champion lady rider and also a champion trainer in her own right. We offer our congratulations to both Aidan and Annemarie.
Some of the statistics that go along with those 4000 winners are just mind-blowing. Of them 417 have been Group or Grade 1s, that’s just over 10 percent at the highest level. His highest haul of Group 1s is 28 in one year, he’s been champion trainer in Ireland 26 times and he’s trained Group 1 winners in nine different countries.
As we’ve said before in this blog, we’re living in an era of greatness, an era when we’re witnessing a man training racehorses who will be spoken about forever more. Aidan is 53 years of age yet he seems to be as hungry and as keen as ever and his work ethic is as strong as it’s ever been. I’ve no doubt his 5000th winner will come around before we know it.
Other successes at the Curragh
Moss Tucker secured a Group 1 for Ken Condon and Billy Lee with a win in the Flying Five, which was fantastic to see.
The other Group 1 on the day completed a double over the weekend for the connections of Fallen Angel, Steve Parkin of Clipper Logistics and Karl Burke, with both winners ridden by Danny Tudhope. That was a brilliant story.
In the Irish St Leger, it was super to see David Egan win an Irish Classic. David’s mum Sandra trained an Irish Grand National winner with Thunder And Roses in 2015, and of course we know David’s father John is still riding in England. With David being a grandson of Dessie Hughes, who trained a stone’s throw from the track, I’m sure it was an emotional success. That’s of course Eldar Eldarov’s second St Leger after winning at Doncaster last September, so well done to trainer Roger Varian also.
Kevin Stott loses Amo Racing job
My heart goes out to him. It just shows you a jockey’s job is so fragile; from the chance of an injury to the possibility things don’t go right in 120 seconds of a horse race. If your owner or trainer are not satisfied, then next thing you know it you could be out of a job.
I think Kevin will be okay, he can horseback, he’s a good rider. He needs to look at the glass and see it’s three-quarters full and get back up and get going. Stay on the road, that’s the secret, and the wheel will turn for him, I’m sure.
Listowel Harvest Festival
The Harvest Festival kicks off next Sunday so we’re well on the countdown now. Bookings and ticket sales are strong. There’s an accommodation office in Listowel town and anyone with enquiries about a place to stay can find out all they need to know there. The number to call is 00353876652211.
We’re looking forward to a fantastic week and hope everyone can make it.