PAT HEALY: Pat starts by looking back at the weekend where some smart prospects were on show at the Curragh and he also looks ahead to the action across the Irish Sea this week at York ….
It’s been a terrible summer with the weather and Tramore on Saturday was the latest casualty. When you get a lot of rain in a short space of time it doesn’t matter how good your drainage is, it’ll always be a struggle to put racing on.
I feel for Tramore because Saturday was one of their biggest days, there was some great racing and prize money on offer, it was Ladies Day and there would have been a huge crowd. Luckily, they were able to go ahead on Sunday and there was a big crowd in attendance.
With the weather we’ve had it’s hard on racecourses and on grounds staff who are all working hard to get racing on. We have the Irish Champion Stakes coming up in a few weeks and then it’s the Listowel Harvest Festival so hopefully we have some dryer weather and there aren’t any problems ahead of those meetings.
Smart prospects at the Curragh
There were two Group 2s at the Curragh on Saturday, with the first won in impressive style by Aidan’s [O’Brien] Henry Longfellow (pictured below). He stepped straight into Group company after winning his maiden over the same course and distance and took the rise in class in his stride. He’s now well entitled to have a crack at a Group 1.
Willie McCreery also bagged a Group 2 with his daughter of Night Of Thunder, Vespertilio, winning the Debutante Stakes. She also won very well and was a great success for the yard.
On Sunday’s card from the Curragh we saw a good winner in Dermot Weld’s Shamida, who won the St Leger Trial. Dermot is flying along as usual and has always thought a good deal of the filly. She’s only three so she has plenty of improvement to come and there’s talk of her heading to France for the Group 1 Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp in October, which would be a typical Dermot plan. He’s a master at patiently waiting until these fillies reach their peak before targeting them at a big prize, and when he targets a good one he rarely misses.
Successful sign off for Atzeni
It was nice to see Andrea Atzeni sign off riding in Europe with a winner at the top level when Vandeek won the Prix Morny in Deauville on Sunday. He beat Coventry winner River Tiber into third, so it looks like it was a strong race.
Andrea is now heading off to continue his career in Hong Kong and we wish him all the best going forward.
Looking ahead to York
I’m heading over to York this week for what is always a fantastic four days. It’s a lovely part of England and there are always great people in York.
There’s some top-quality racing across the meeting with three Group 1s to look forward to. On Saturday, the Ebor – the richest handicap in Britian, worth over a million pounds – takes centre stage and I’m sure there will be plenty of Irish horses targeting it as usual.
Many people will be watching Paddington as he goes for his eighth straight win and fifth straight Group 1 win in a row. Mostahdaf was very impressive in the Prince Of Wales at Ascot so he won’t have it all his own way, but I’m certainly hoping he can keep his run going. He’s lit up the Flat this season and everyone wants to see him continue on his path to greatness.
Hopefully the Irish pick up a few winners across the four days and I’d like to wish all connections heading to York the best of luck.