PAT HEALY: Pat’s weekly look at the stories making the racing headlines including this week the Ballydoyle open day ….

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Charity race for Pat Smullen Cancer Trials

There was racing from the Curragh on Saturday and the major story was the Pat Smullen Cancer Trials Charity Race. It was a great event and brought a big crowd to the Curragh. It was won by Kate Harrington aboard The Very Man, trained by her mother Jessica.

The highlight was Pat’s daughter Hannah riding in the race and finishing third aboard Gordon Elliott’s Amir Kabir. I’m sure that would have given her mum, Frances, a great buzz. Well done to Hannah. Well done also to Peter Fahey’s wife Ber, who finished second on Bukhill.

The day started off with the coast-to-coast cycle, which took place ahead of racing, with well over 100 people taking part in aid of the Pat Smullen Cancer Trials. It’s a fantastic charity that has been going for three years now and I think they’ve raised the guts of €500,000. Well done to all involved and I hope that they continue to grow stronger.


Naas Corinthian Challenge

At Naas on Sunday we had another charity event with the first leg of the Corinthian Challenge series. There are three races in the series and each rider has to raise an amount of money in order to take part. It was won by rider Damien Moore on a horse called Noble Anthem, who is trained in England by Adrian Keatley.

There was drama when Damien went by the winning post as, unfortunately, he just fell out the side door. He had the race safely in the bag and thankfully he didn’t fall five yards from the line. Even more thankfully he was only winded and was able to return to the parade ring to weigh in successfully and have his picture taken.

It was a great outcome to a great event and we look forward to the next two legs, one next month and one in October.


Ballydoyle press morning

I was at Ballydoyle on Monday morning for an Irish Champions Festival press morning. We saw two lots and the big names were out, including Paddington, dual Derby winner Auguste Rodin and Luxembourg. Aidan has a cluster of top-class two-year-olds this year and we saw City Of Troy, Henry Longfellow and Diego Velazquez.

Aidan is putting his team together for the Irish Champions Festival and the talk on Monday was that he is aiming both Auguste Rodin and Luxembourg at the highlight of the meeting, the Irish Champions Stakes.

It’s always great to have a trip to Ballydoyle, to see how the logistics work and how the whole operation ticks over. We’d like to say thanks to Aidan and all his team at Ballydoyle for having us, it’s much appreciated.


Paul Hanagan bows out

Over at York we witnessed the retirement of Paul Hanagan. He has had a top-class career, twice becoming UK Champion Jockey, but clearly thought it was time to turn the page on a new chapter of his life and we wish him all the best for whatever he decides to do next.

Everybody in racing recognises what a gentleman he is and if you were advising any young man in the game to model himself on a jockey, Paul Hanagan would be the man. Hard work, great manners, great personality and just a lovely fella. Thanks for the memories, Paul.


Fantastic four days at York

Congratulations to William Derby and his team at York, it was a fantastic four days that had everything. There were great performances and stories.

If you haven’t been to the Ebor Festival, try and make it. York is a lovely town, with lovely people and everyone makes you feel very welcome. It’s a great track and is great to walk around, there’s any amount of flowers and hanging baskets, as well as bars of course! It’s always a pleasure to be there.

There was plenty of drama on the track. We had Frankie [Dettori] getting his fractions right in the Juddmonte International aboard Mostahdaf. From an Irish perspective it was disappointing that Paddington didn’t win, but I don’t think it was a disappointing performance. Going into the race Mostahdaf was rated 128 and Paddington was rated 125 and they served up a great contest. Aidan [O’Brien] did mention that maybe he’d stretched the elastic a bit far with Paddington, but he’ll be back and I’m sure he’ll be in the winners’ enclosure again soon.

The following day we had the Yorkshire Oaks, which Aidan won with his outsider Warm Heart. It was jockey James Doyle’s first Group 1 for Ballydoyle, having ridden plenty of Group 1s for their biggest competitors Godolphin. Warm Heart probably came into the race a bit under the radar and she went off at 9/1. It just shows you any of Aidan’s second or third string always have a chance in those big races and James Doyle was the lucky man to pick up the ride on this occasion.

In the Nunthorpe there was a fantastic result for the smaller stables, with trainer Adam West and jockey Sean Kirrane landing their first Group 1 wins with Live In The Dream. Your heart couldn’t help but be warmed by their success. Fair play to them, they rolled the dice in a Group 1 and they got the rewards.

What more can you say about Willie Mullins? Absurde was a horse that was beaten at the Killarney Festival and then at Galway, but rocks up in the Ebor under that man Dettori and gets home to win. That was a ‘win and you’re in’ race for the Melbourne Cup and we all know Willie has Vauban lined up for that but maybe they’ll roll the dice with this fellow too. It’s another testament to the Willie Mullins book of genius.

PAT


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