What a weekend, What a race meeting.
I say race ‘meeting’ as it is a celebration of Irish Racing which may be held at two different courses but all part of one great package.
Did someone mention Christmas (hit them if they did!), cos it came early for Irish flat racing enthusiasts. Irish Champions Weekend had it all. It had a build up which was full of weather forecasts, the will he/won’t he Gleneagles saga, then the action started with a controversial Irish Champion Stakes stewards enquiry to go along with the brilliance of the horses involved in the race, the ease of Legatissimo’s win, the 2yo Group 1 victories by Ballydoyle’s Air Force Blue & Minding, a 3yo winning the St Leger half the track after being thumped in the market, Sole Power eventually winning a big race on Irish soil, the big field handicaps that were impossible to solve but we were always going to try anyway, the previews and the reviews and an all round exhausting but exhilarating festival of all that is good about flat racing in this country.
Delighting the home crowds at The Curragh this afternoon was crack sprinter Sole Power who got a dream run in the Flying Five to win under Chris Hayes for trainer Eddie Lynam.
It looked too easy for the majority of the sprint contest but a late scare came from the fast finishing Maarek who under a patient ride from a slow start Jamie Spencer just failed to rally at the line and claim Sole Power in the finish. Toscanini was close up for the majority of the race but faded in the final 100 yards as Take Cover grabbed third in the Group 2.
A P McCoy, the legendary ex-jump jockey, reflected before the television cameras after enjoying a “final” winner in the charity Clipper Logistics Leger legends Classified Stakes over the straight mile at Doncaster today.
He won on 7/2 favourite Gannicus, trained by former jump jockey Brendan Powell, by two lengths from 15 opponents and was delighted to do so, declaring that unless owner J P McManus, who retained him for many years, wanted him to ride again this was his last participation in a race.
The remarkable Hurricane Fly was retired this weekend after a career that saw him claim two Champion Hurdle titles at the Cheltenham Festival, 22 Grade 1 victories and 26 wins from 42 starts in a glittering 9 years at the top.
The Montjeu gelding was picked up from France by Willie Mullins and had a first run in Ireland at Punchestown winning a maiden hurdle by 12 lengths under Ruby Walsh in May 2008. A Grade 3 was won in France that same month and a second at Grade 1 level followed at Autueil the following month and after that the remarkable Hurricane Fly never raced outside of the top company over hurdles for connections.
Clive Cox trained Kodi Bear was impressive this afternoon under Gerald Mosse to land the feature on the Goodwood card with an authorative display in the Doom Bar Celebration Mile.
Sent off an odds on favourite at 4/5 and hitting the front at the two furlong pole Mosse continued to press the button and Kodi Bear was a few lengths to the good at the finish from Gabriel who picked up more prize money for Richard Fahey.
A winner at Salisbury last time out under Mosse when given an unothordox ride to slam rivals in preparation for this it was more straightforward this time with Mosse letting his mount race with his rivals much earlier in the contest and Clive Cox’s charge is on a nice upward curve.
Aidan O’Brien had a succesful weekend once more but with Gleneagles missing another engagment this week then we all await the return which looks likely at Leopardstown during Irish Champions Weekend for the Champion Stakes.
Speaking on Sunday the master of Ballydoyle stated “Gleneagles is grand but it has all been a bit messy. The fact he’s been trained for three races and not got to run in them is a worry, and you don’t know what effect that will have on him. We’d love to run in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown provided the ground is right for him.”
The fifth fastest running of the Nunthorpe in history was taken by Mecca’s Angel for jockey Paul Mulrennan and trainer Michael Dodds with the well backed Acapulco denied in second after leading them all for a long way in the Group 1 sprint.
It’s been a game of patience for connections having removed Mecca’s Angel from a couple of engagements during the season on account of the ground but that has been rewarded in no uncertain terms here.
A delay to the start may have effected a number of runners as Take Cover broke cover and galloped saddle and riderless away from the start and was withdrawn so when they finally got under way it was Acapulco who blazed along in front and looked uncatchable with a furlong to go but Mecca’s Angel came through and won well at the finish with Mattmu a good third in behind.
Dodds was celebrating afterwards and was full of praise for the ride and the patient owner.
With the process for compiling the 2016 Fixture List having entered the period in which BHA Fixtures are allocated, British Horseracing Authority (BHA) Chief Executive Nick Rust has today provided an update regarding the process, some of the overall objectives and likely outcomes.
Nick Rust said:
“Developing a Fixture List which pleases all parties is one of the biggest challenges we face as an organisation and as an industry each year. The Fixture List must, in meeting the agreed sporting objectives, be produced in the best interests of the sport. In doing so it must, amongst other things, strike the right balance between the ability of the horse population to deliver competitive, compelling racing, and the needs and desires of the racecourses, with the aim of making British Racing as successful as possible.
A serious performance from new king of the sprinters Muhaarar saw Royal Ascot success followed up with a bursting win in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket this afternoon for another Group 1 victory.
Not the streak clear from the pack which brought the win at the Royal meeting this was a tight margin dive for the line that Paul Hanagan engineered to conquer a massive run from Dean Ivory’s Tropics at the line. Third went to Eastern Impact with Sole Power running a big race once again just in behind the front three.