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.
Willie Mullins made it a fourth feature race success in five days at the 2018 Galway Festival and the theme of it not being the leading market fancy from the yard continued as Nessun Dorma caused an upset in the Guinness Handicap in the hands of Billy Lee.
In a fascinating race for the jockey’s title, reigning champ Pat Smullen has hit a rich vein of form and, following a 1,055-1 four-timer at Roscommon yesterday, is all but breathing down the neck of championship leader Colin Keane.
Robbie McNamara has enjoyed plenty of success at the Galway Festival, but yesterday was a red-letter day for the Newbridge, Co Kildare-based trainer as Cascavelle gave him a first winner on the Flat and first at this meeting in his guise as a trainer.
An extraordinarily successful year for Aidan O’Brien was recognised at the Dorchester Hotel in London last night as four Ballydoyle charges were honoured at the 26th annual Cartier Racing Awards while the master handler received the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Sir John Lavery, a very promising third on his debut at the Curragh just a week ago, proved the star of yesterday’s Gowran Park action as he romped to an impressive seven lengths win in the one-mile Irish Stallion Farms 2-Y-0 Maiden.
On an overcast Kilkenny afternoon about this time last year a seemingly bog standard two-year old maiden race was run at Gowran Park. Of the sixteen starters, most were unexposed types and although they represented many of our high profile training operations it didn’t quite feel like one of those golden maidens that hid unrevealed secrets for a sparkling future. Looks can sometimes deceive.