PAT HEALY: This week Pat weighs in on the mares’ allowance debate and gives us the inside scoop after his trip to Ballydoyle.

Constitution Hill v Honeysuckle

This debate is doing the rounds all over social media it seems, and sure it’d be good for racing. It’s probably the biggest match to look forward to in Jump racing, and it’d certainly be great for Punchestown as it almost guarantees a sell-out crowd. But I just think any horse having to give Honeysuckle seven-pounds, has an enormous task and probably a debate for further down the line is: should it be seven-pounds? Epatante was also getting the mares’ allowance in the Champion Hurdle, and she finished second, so I think maybe for mares’ that are at their level the whole seven might be a bit much and the authorities will probably look at this in the not-so-distant future. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the allowance came back to three, four, or five pounds, because I don’t think there is any horse out there, including Constitution Hill, at the moment that could give the weight away and still be competitive. I don’t think she’ll lose to Constitution Hill but I do hope the mares’ allowance is left alone next season so she can carry on dominating the division.

There’s another point here though which I think many will agree with, I don’t want to see Honeysuckle beat, I really don’t! She’s now had 15 wins in a row including 11 Grade Ones and she always turns up when we need her to, we’re just lucky to have seen her, to witness her and for me personally to photograph her. Her partnership with Rachael [Blackmore] transcends the sport from the back pages to the front, and I hope she’s never beat, I hope she can go on to win a third Champion Hurdle and take her tally to over 20 wins.


I was lucky enough to be invited to the Ballydoyle media morning at the start of the week, which was as ever a pleasure, and from a photographer’s perspective you couldn’t have picked a better morning; gorgeous light, and blue skies, and Ballydoyle looked as picture perfect as ever. Aidan [O’Brien] was on great form and spent two and a half hours answering questions and talking about his horses. As usual he’s full of hope and has plenty of horses to look forward to this season. As we touched on last week, it’s going to be really interesting to see Ballydoyle and Godolphin lock horns over the coming months as they look to have some serious firepower at their disposal.

There were a couple of unraced three-year-olds that Aidan name checked as ones to keep an eye on, one being Martinstown who is under the ownership of Sue-Ann Foley (daughter of JP McManus), Mrs John Magnier, and Michael Tabor. This Galileo colt is named after JP’s residence and holds entries in both Derby’s and is highly regarded at Ballydoyle. The other horse is called Waterville who is named after the County Kerry town, and he’s by Camelot. Again, he’s entered in both Derby’s so is obviously above average as well.