Horse Racing Ireland has taken plenty of stick over many years, but you have to praise the bridge as you cross it and there is no doubt their recent handling of Irish racing, in the face of this cursed coronavirus, has been nothing short of exemplary.
Willie Mullins has had many great days in racing but, as he debriefed the media in a packed winner’s enclosure, it was hard to escape the sense that few meant quite as much to Ireland’s champion trainer as Faugheen’s epic victory in the Flogas Novice Chase on day two of the Dublin Racing Festival.
Nine times victorious at the top level over the smaller obstacles, the 2015 Champion Hurdle hero showed he was still a formidable force – just days short of turning 12 years old – to lower the colours of another star name in Samcro.
The National Hunt season that has just finished was a very strange one. At times it felt like the season would never get going as we waited and waited for the skies to open. For us in racing, they never really did, but hopefully for the flat season ahead they won’t open now.
Any doubts surrounding Tiger Roll’s participation in the Aintree Grand National were allayed by his trainer Gordon Elliott yesterday, who also revealed that the gutsy nine-year-old may well be one of a number of his charges who could follow up in the Boylesports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.
It would be quite a stretch to suggest Buveur D’air’s eclipse in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton opened the door for would-be takers of his Champion Hurdle crown, but Samcro all but stepped out of the running for that distinction with another disappointing display, this time behind Sharjah in the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle on Saturday afternoon in Leopardstown.