PAT HEALY: In this week’s blog Pat questions the 1.30pm start time for the Derby at Epsom. Is it time for the race go go back to a Wednesday?
Derby start time
The Derby start time has been announced as 1:30pm on Saturday 3rd June and the general commentary in the media has been negative. I can imagine that if it was scheduled for after the FA Cup Final and that went to extra time, then it could be a big problem for ITV.
It is what it is. Half-one is a safe option, and it might turn out to be a success. At the end of the day, that’s the card Epsom have been dealt and, at the end of the day, we’ll just look forward to a great race.
Looking back in time, when the Derby was on a Wednesday, Epsom seemed to be full to the rafters and the Downs were always packed. There isn’t ever much happening on the first Wednesday in June, so that could be the road to go down for maximum coverage on TV, radio, social media and in newspapers. I think it’s something they should look at and give that a go.
Looking ahead to the Guineas
Two horses we’ve been thinking about a lot all winter are Auguste Rodin (pictured below) and Tahiyra.
Now the dreaming and the talking is almost over and hopefully we’ll see two superstar performances this weekend.
At Aidan’s [O’Brien] media morning at the end of March, he mentioned that if any horse can win the Triple Crown it could be Auguste Rodin. That’s exciting talk. This is his first hurdle on Saturday and we’ll see what happens.
What Tahiyra did at the Curragh when winning the Moyglare was breathtaking, effortlessly kicking Meditate out of the way. Then Meditate went on to win at the Juvenile Fillies at the Breeders’ Cup. Hopefully Tahirya has trained-on and she’ll be as good as we thought she was.
It was a fantastic festival; congratulations to all the team at Punchestown. Well done to the track manager, Sean Ryan, and of course to the Clerk of the Course Brendan Sheridan.
Over five days racing, there was fresh ground everyday with five different lines of racing ground and, of course, there were three different races on the cross-country track too. They always do a brilliant job, and the course was in fantastic condition.
Everybody that came racing seemed to have a brilliant time, and there was a great buzz around Naas town. The Punchestown Festival is worth €25 million to the local economy, so it’s important that everything goes well.
For me, my disappointment of the festival was Galopin Des Champs getting beat. He’s a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, but he might just not have been at his best on the day. I love the horse and I’m sure he’ll bounce back.
Of course, that’s not taking anything away from the success of Fastorslow. I’m delighted for Martin Brassil, he’s a great character and a great man to have a drink with. Martin is such a gas man, he makes me laugh and I’m very fond of him. He’s also coolness personified and is a man that doesn’t get too excited.
I just think A Dream To Share, who became the first horse in Ireland to win five bumpers, was a bit special. Tullyhill eyeballed him and I think if there was a chink in A Dream To Share’s armour it would have shown then, but it didn’t. He put Tullyhill away and I think he’s the second best, if not the best, bumper horse Willie Mullins has at the moment.
People say A Dream To Share could even be a Melbourne Cup horse. If he takes to hurdling, could this horse be the one to worry Constitution Hill? Fingers crossed he stays in one piece, because he’s such an exciting horse to look forward to.
Irish National Hunt Champions
The Irish National Hunt Champions were crowned last Saturday to mark the end of the season.
Willie [Mullins] was crowned Champion Trainer for the 17th time, while JP McManus became Champion Owner for an incredible 20th time. Paul Townend was Champion Jockey for the sixth time, Jodie Townend became Champion Lady Amateur Rider for the third time, while Patrick Mullins was named Champion Amateur for the 15th time and young Michael O’Sullivan won the Conditional Riders’ Championship. We’d like to pass on our congratulations to them all.
Everybody was back to zero for a day and then the new season started at Down Royal on Monday.
Dean Holland, of course, was a Flat jockey in Australia who sadly passed away at only 34 years of age.
I thought it was a lovely touch by Dr Jennifer Pugh to have a minute’s silence for Dean at Punchestown before racing last Tuesday. It just shows you that in racing, we’re all the one family and we’re all the one crowd.
It’s heart breaking. Dean leaves behind his wife Lucy and four kids, Harley, Luca, Frankie and Lily. Our thoughts and prayers go to the Holland family and to all Dean’s friends in Australia.
Micky Fenton saddles first winner
The Curragh were rewarded with a great Bank Holiday crowd on Monday.
We have to give a well done to ex-Flat jockey Micky Fenton, who trained his first winner with Run Forrest Run taking the concluding race. Micky’s training near Mallow in County Cork. He’s a lovely fella, and we wish him the best going forward.
Until next week.