By Darren Norris
Ruby Walsh has declared the weekend’s inaugural Dublin Racing Festival a resounding success.
“It looked to be to me anyway,” Walsh said at the Irish Examiner’s Breakfast of Champions event at the Clayton Hotel in Cork City this morning.
“You might say (Saturday’s Leopardstown attendance) of 14,000 would be a disappointing crowd in some sports but that’s a great turnout for racing, especially clashing with the Six Nations.
"Irish people tend to be sports fans so you’re competing for the same people to go to everything all the time.”
The Irish Examiner columnist was unable to ride at the two-day extravaganza as he continues his recovery from a broken leg but he was delighted to see his boss Willie Mullins saddle seven winners over two sublime days of racing.
“You want to see them winning, you want to see them being spectacular so you actually have something to aim at to get back riding,” Walsh, who hopes to be back in action in the final weekend of this month, said.
However, he did suggest the meeting might get more people through the turnstiles were it to be held a week earlier.
“I would move it to last weekend,” Walsh replied when asked by Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons for suggestions on how the event could be improved.
“I’d be looking outside racing; I wouldn’t be clashing with the Six Nations.
"I’d be coming after the Champions Cup, using that weekend in the middle where there’s very little on in the sporting world and we’d be front and centre.
"People say you shouldn’t run away from other sports but we’re a small fish in a deep pond.”
Walsh added that the Dublin Racing Festival shouldn’t be seen as a rival to next month’s Cheltenham Festival.
He said: “I don’t know why we have to rival Cheltenham, the Dublin Racing Festival is a meeting on its own and it can stand on its own two feet and it will become part of the calendar.
"Rival is the wrong word but I think it will grow into a meeting that people will want to run their horses at.”
For more reaction to today’s Irish Examiner Breakfast of Champions event, see tomorrow’s Irish Examiner