Monday, 30 March 2015

Yeats makes Royal Ascot history

Horses for Courses

Tom Red

The Aidan O’Brien trained Yeats made history this week, winning the Ascot Gold Cup for a fourth time.

Watching the race this year was even more emotional than 2008 and this flat horse must be rated alongside Arkle, Best Mate and Istabraq as one of the greatest racehorses of all time.

We rarely see great flat horses trained on six seasons and Coolmore’s decision got the reward it richly deserved. Even though bookmakers are betting on Yeats winning a fifth Gold Cup, O’Brien said after racing: ‘I don’t think he will try and make it five, but it is not my decision.” I do hope that we see him attempt to win five next season but even if we don’t, thanks to all at Coolmore, the owners, the trainer, the jockeys and stable staff for the greatest memories ever produced on the flat.

The English 1,000 Guineas winner Ghanaati proved the best in the Coronation Stakes on Friday and broke the track record when annihilating the field, including the Irish and French Guineas winners. Jockey Richard Hills rode the winner for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum and it is trained by his father Barry Hills. 

Unlike at Newmarket, where she went off at 20-1, Ghanaati was favourite and shot clear two out to win comfortably from the French raider Reggane and Rainbow View, who showed much improvement in her form this season. The French Guineas winner Elusive Wave finished fourth and the Irish Guineas victor Again was never travelling comfortably and appeared unsuited to the fast going. 

Irish Derby Festival at the Curragh

This weekend racing starts at Tipperary this evening on the flat with the first off at 5.50. Tomorrow sees the start of the three-day Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival at the Curragh. There is racing at Fairyhouse next Wednesday evening and the Bellewstown Summer Racing Festival begins this day week and will be dealt with in next week’s column.

The feature race on Friday is the listed Ballygallon Stud Stakes for two-year-olds over 6f worth €47,500 and backed up by the very important Derrinstown Stud Apprentice Derby for young jockeys based in Ireland. The first race is off at 6 pm. There will be live music from the Furey Brothers and Davy Arthur after the racing.

Saturday is Ladies Day both on and off the track with the Group 1 Audi Pretty Polly Stakes over 1m 2f for fillies taking pride of place and backed up by the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Summer Fillies Handicap over 7f and the action starts at 2.10 pm. For the ladies there is most stylish hat competition with a fantastic prize courtesy of Kildare Village. Finally on Sunday, starting at 1.40 pm, the Irish Derby, this year worth €1,500,000 will be run at 4.20 pm, backed up with the two-year-old Railway Stakes over 6f.

Johnny Murtagh will probably ride Fame And Glory in Sunday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh who, with Seamie Heffernan in the plate at Epsom finished second to Sea The Stars. With Ballydoyle supplying ten of the 17 acceptors, which include the Epsom winner from John Oxx’s yard –expect one of them to get it right this time over the stiffer mile and a half at headquarters. Matersofthehorse may be the value in the race and will probably be ridden by Heffernan. Rip Van Winkle looks to be going in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown in early July run over a probably more suitable 1m 2f.

Aidan O’Brien did have Derby success last weekend when Changingoftheguard won the Ulster Derby from Paul Flynn’s County Longford trained Drunken Sailor and John Oxx’s Adjalyia on Saturday at Down Royal. Also at Down Royal last Sunday Colin McBratney’s Ballyholland with jockey Mark Bolger aboard held on from the late challenge of Tony Martin’s Dream Champion to win the Galway Plate Trial and almost certainly secure a place in next month’s Galway Plate, won last year by the Paul Nicholls-trained Oslot.

Bolger and Ballyholland moved up to the leader Winning Counsel, three out and took up the running before the penultimate fence and held on under a strong drive from Bolger to win by three quarters of a length with Changing Course in third five and a half lengths further back. The winner goes to Galway, his target all year according to the trainer.

There was another local winner last Thursday when Castlerea’s Frank Campbell’s Harriet’s Call won the Music After Racing Handicap over 1m from Toufan Express and First Symphony. The four-year-old filly is trained on the Curragh by John Hayden. Another local horse, last week’s 20/1 winner, Miss Al Gunn, disappointed at Sligo on Tuesday when finishing seventh of nine to Guitar Man on a track that was probably too sharp for her, but write her off for Ballybrit at your peril.

With Galway only around the corner here’s a few for the not book already: Ballyholland, Miss Al Gunn and Dessie Hughes’s Johnny Two Keys, who disappointed in Kilbeggan on Monday, finishing third to Talking Tough. Also at Kilbeggan Paul Gilligan had a number of placed horses and the Craughwell stable looks to be coming into form just at the right time for the Western Festival.

Flawed Diamond

Yeats provided the fairytale this week but Ffos Las Diamond did not provide the required finish for owner, of both horse and course, Dai 

Walters, when finishing only fifth in the opening race run at the new turf track at Ffos Las in Wales last week.

The race was won by Plunkett, trained by Evan Williams in the Principality, from the Oliver McKiernan Cavan trained raider Older And Wiser. The second race did cross the Irish Sea when Co. Limerick trainer Michael Hourigan, of Beef or Salmon fame, turned out Turf War to win for Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary. 

Tony McCoy, who rode his 3000th winner at Plumpton last February reached that milestone in Britain on Tuesday at Newton Abbot when partnering Evan Williams-trained Havenstone to victory in a maiden hurdle. He completed a double when winning on the Co Longford trained raider Archie Boy from Paul Flynn’s yard.

Win tickets to Ladies Day

Roscommon Races are on the Monday and Tuesday, 6th and 7th July and there are three pairs of tickets to be won for each day, courtesy of course manager Michael Finneran. Monday is Ladies Day and the main judge is Lisa Fitzpatrick of TV3 fashion fame and there is over €2,000 in the prize fund.

To win please let us know who will be the chairperson of the judging panel for Ladies Day on the 6th July at Lenebane? Answers on a postcard to Roscommon People, Harrison Centre, Roscommon, or by email to by close of business Friday the 3rd July and don’t forget to include a contact phone number and the winners can pick up their tickets at the office on Monday the 6th.