PAT HEALY: The Galway Festival is a big week for Irish racing, it transcends the racing pages. It’s now peak holiday season and all the national papers in Ireland will carry coverage of the racing and the fashion …

The Galway Festival is a big week for Irish racing, it transcends the racing pages. It’s now peak holiday season and all the national papers in Ireland will carry coverage of the racing and the fashion.

People make an annual pilgrimage to Galway from all over Ireland and that’s why it’s unique and the atmosphere is so special. It’s a magnificent town and the local Galway people are fantastic characters. From the perspective of someone who works in the racing industry, it’s a great social occasion. You get to stay over a couple of nights and on a night out there you can meet trainers, owners, jockeys, bookmakers and punters.

I just hope the forecast isn’t going to be too bad. They’ve had loads of rain already and with more showers during the week. The hardest working people at Galway this week will be the ground staff and they’ll have a tough week ahead of them. In Ireland the Clerks of the Course provide fresh ground for every day’s racing. There are mixed cards at Galway so that means they have to look after the chase track, the hurdles track and the Flat track every day. We wish Michael Moloney and all his team at Galway all the best and hope everything goes well.

The two highlights are the Hurdle and the Plate. From one end of the racecourse to the other end of the racecourse, I guarantee you that you could get a tip on a dozen horses on each race. That’s just Galway – everyone’s looking for a winner. While it’s not at the level of Cheltenham where the level of knowledge is encyclopaedic and people discuss the merits of the best Irish horse against the best English horse, Galway’s just about backing a winner.

Hewick is going in the Plate and Brian Hughes is riding him. He’s carrying top-weight of 11st 12lbs, but who’s to say he can’t win? If he does win, I guarantee there will be magical scenes as he’s a people’s horse now and is hugely popular. The parade ring would be mobbed, and while I wouldn’t like to be the one doing it, I’m sure Shark Hanlon would be carried shoulder high into the winners’ enclosure!

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Stables to look out for at Galway

In the last few years, the powerhouse stables of Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Henry de Bromhead have targeted Galway more and more. At one time those yards virtually shut for the summer, but not anymore, so you can expect them to have plenty of winners.

You would also have to keep a close eye on two trainers that target Galway; Emmet Mullins, who runs Merlin Giant in the Galway Hurdle on Thursday, and Peter Fahey who has had plenty of success there in recent years. When you have your picks, make sure you take those stables into consideration.

Thrilling King George

What a magnificent spectacle the King George was, and what a duel between two brilliant racehorses (pictured below) and jockeys. It was a shame there had to be a loser, but it was a race I really enjoyed.

It was disappointing from an Irish point of view and I hope everything is okay with Auguste Rodin, but as a horse race you couldn’t wish for better.

As we mentioned in the blog a couple of weeks back, the older generation of horses that are around at the moment seem to be a special batch. Who is to say the next time Hukum and Westover meet, Westover might turn the tables, that’s how closely matched they are.

King George suspensions

On the downside, I see that Jim Crowley is going to be penalised for his winning ride on Hukum. It’s a complete joke. Racing, as has been the case for the last few years, is making a balls up for itself.

Both Jim Crowley and Rob Hornby should be getting medals for the rides they gave their horses and now it looks like they are going to get punished. To me it’s stupidity of the highest order and we’ve no one to blame but ourselves. I don’t know how we’re going to fix it, but there’s people in charge of certain aspects of horse racing, and I’m sure they’re getting big wages, and they’re an embarrassment.

Paddington bids for seven-timer at Goodwood

Paddington (pictured below) runs in the Sussex Stakes and hopefully he can make it seven straight wins in a row. It’s sure to be a tough contest, but hopefully he can fly the flag for the Irish and Ballydoyle.

GAA Final

Congratulations to the Dubs. As a Kerry man I know how much joy winning an All-Ireland final brings not only to yourself, but to your community and to your county.

They’re a magnificent team and three of them; James McCarthy, Stephen Cluxton and Michael Fitzsimons created history yesterday by winning their ninth All-Ireland medal. I wouldn’t be surprised if they carried on won their 10th next year.

It’s a loathsome prospect for everyone outside Dublin looking on, but Kerry will just have to step up next year. I have to give my heartiest congratulations and say well done to all my Dublin friends. Enjoy the celebrations, but we’ll be back next year!


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