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.
In the past 18 months, Jessica Harrington celebrated numerous firsts: A first Irish Gold Cup victory, first Cheltenham Gold Cup success, first Irish Grand National, and became the most successful lady trainer in the history of the Cheltenham Festival.
“I have to be careful what I say now, don’t I?’’, are the words Aidan O’Brien reportedly muttered in the wake of his Caravaggio enjoying no more than a leisurely stroll on the way to winning the Group 1 Phoenix stakes at the Curragh last Sunday.
Oft has champion jockey Pat Smullen received the plaudits for his brilliance in the saddle, but his feat in getting Xsquared around Killarney and home in front in a two-mile-one handicap with a slipped saddle for more than a circuit must rank high amongst the Offaly rider’s most-extraordinary achievements.
Apprentice Denis Linehan registered his eighth career success, and his first of 2016, when bringing More Than Munny with a storming late challenge to collar odds-on favourite Go Kart in the featured Irishinjuredjockeys.com Race in Dundalk last night.
Herald The Dawn, impressive when winning his maiden at Naas earlier this month, produced a sustained and very game effort to overcome soft ground and exciting filly Now Or Never in the Group 2 Galileo EBF Futurity Stakes yesterday afternoon at the Curragh.