Proactive management find winning formula at vibrant Tipperary

It wouldn’t be an great exaggeration to say that Tipperary last Sunday was a bit like racing used to be in this country!

Proactive management find winning formula at vibrant Tipperary

It’s been a testing time for the industry over a number of years, with disappointing attendances and a betting ring that is a mere shadow of what it was in the good old days.

But there was a vibrancy about Tipperary which was encouraging, driven by a progressive management that is clearly proactive.

This is the second year Tipperary has charged an entrance fee of just €10. Under 18’s are free and students and seniors pay €8.

One man said to me on Sunday, nodding in the direction of his wife: “We got in for €20.’ His body language and demeanour indicated he felt that was a good deal.

There were lots of families on site and plenty of entertainment was available for the kids.

Down at the far side of the track, Tipperary provided a big screen and the ‘Arc meeting was on offer throughout the afternoon.

The crowd, given how difficult it has become to get people to go racing, was more than satisfactory at nearly 2,500 and there was a particularly good atmosphere.

The whole mixture just worked well and I’d say most left the course intending to return at some stage.

What Tipperary has done, I think, is to find a formula that works, without alienating the hardcore racing follower, who is only interested in what is happening out on the track.

And the racing wasn’t bad either, providing a number of talking points, led by Rebel Fitz, who won his fifth race in a row over fences in a Grade 3.

He was again lathered in sweat and, for the vast majority of horses, that usually signals they have little or no chance.

But it has got to the stage with Rebel Fitz that you would be almost worried if he didn’t sweat, it just seems to be part of his character.

His jumping was extraordinary and he threw three leaps in a row down the back that were terrific.

One member of the press corps pointed out afterwards that he has yet to beat anything of note over fences and we wouldn’t want to be getting carried away.

You couldn’t disagree with that and his display at Tipperary didn’t reveal anything we didn’t already know.

Indeed the handicapper saw no reason to alter his rating and he remains on a mark of 152.

Basically, we don’t really know how good he is, but the public have taken him to their hearts and he got some warm reception. For the moment, Rebel Fitz is simply exciting and let’s just enjoy him.

Another talking point had to be the massive improvement found by Aidan O’Brien’s two-year-old, Buonarroti, who won a maiden by eight and a half lengths.

Now we know O’Brien is a wizard and that his juveniles frequently progress rapidly with racing.

But, even by his lofty standards, this was something else. Buonarroti had finished fourth on his debut behind stable companion, Carlo Bugatti, at Galway and was eight and a quarter lengths behind the runner-up, Dermot Weld’s Whitey O’Gwaun.

The pair renewed rivalry at Tipperary and this time Buonarroti slammed fourth -placed Whitey O’Gwaun by nine lengths.

Now Whitey O’Gwaun performed perfectly respectably and his performance was very much on a par with what he achieved at Galway.

But Buonarroti turned around the form to the tune of a staggering 17 and a quarter lengths — and there was no legislating for that.

A horse to note from the meeting was surely Pat Fahy’s Western Man, who chased home the impressive Willie Mullins-trained Wicklow Brave in the bumper.

The son of Antonius Pius, who ran two solid races last season, kept finding for Katie Walsh’s driving and this confirmed is a horse with a reasonably bright future.

It was great to see Sizing Europe, given that he is rapidly closing in on his 12th birthday, doing the business at Gowran Park last Saturday.

He has been an admirable racehorse for so long and all the indications are that he is essentially as good as he ever was.

Henry de Bromhead is now considering giving him another shot at three miles in the Grade 1 Champion Chase at Down Royal next month and that seems a wise move.

At this stage of Sizing Europe’s life there isn’t a whole lot to lose and plenty to gain, not least yet another delightful payday.

That Gowran meeting was run over two days and notable for a number of horses that the betting market told us couldn’t possibly win.

They didn’t win either and, as a pal of mine is given to saying, “were as dead as Parnell”.

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