Ruby Walsh: Proposed training centre could be a real winner

I remembered, leaving Dublin on Tuesday night having attended my third Cheltenham preview evening of the week, why I made a conscious decision many years ago to limit the amount of them I did to those I was contractually obliged to attend.
Ruby Walsh: Proposed training centre could be a real winner

Tipperary Racecourse- the proposed site for the building of Ireland’s second all-weather track and, more interestingly, a starter centre for young trainers.
Tipperary Racecourse- the proposed site for the building of Ireland’s second all-weather track and, more interestingly, a starter centre for young trainers.

I remembered, leaving Dublin on Tuesday night having attended my third Cheltenham preview evening of the week, why I made a conscious decision many years ago to limit the amount of them I did to those I was contractually obliged to attend.

I am so confused now as to I what I think could win next week in Prestbury Park that if I was an actual punter, I would be having five bets in most races. It doesn’t matter as much anymore if I get a prediction wrong, but people have spoken so confidently about horses I couldn’t fancy or even have on my mind ten days ago that I am beginning to doubt the way I see form.

Racing, like all sports, is about opinion and when you have one there is a chance you can be wrong so for me when I was riding I found it easier to accept my own opinion being wrong rather than wondering at the start of each race if in fact there were six dangers or just the two I thought. Confusion! But enjoyable confusion now the stakes have been lowered.

We, in the Irish Examiner, have a massive Cheltenham supplement in Monday’s paper so I have the weekend to gather and rearrange my thoughts on the week ahead, but HRI released its five-year plan for racing during the week and I think it deserves comment.

On first inspection, I thought ‘oh no, do we really need a second all-weather racetrack in this country to dilute our product even more and an extra 39 fixtures?’ To fill the races and sustain the demand another track places on our horse population, it would simply mean more races for worse horses as, let’s be honest here, there will always be more ordinary ones than good ones.

However, once I started to read deeply through the press release, the content and projected ideas for how this will work caught my imagination. Tipperary is the chosen location and its grass flat track is set to become an all-weather venue, but it’s the proposed building of the training centre there or “a starter centre for young trainers” as HRI CEO Brian Kavanagh described it, that altered my view.

However much an increase in prize money might benefit everyone in racing and the extra racing, through betting revenue,

benefits the exchequer, it’s this training centre that could benefit racing the most.

The start-up costs for trainers are huge and one can argue there are plenty of vacant facilities on the Curragh that could be used. But, the geographical spread of yards

there doesn’t allow small trainers to share staff or riders.

The Curragh racecourse itself is Ireland’s premier flat venue so doesn’t cater too often for lower-grade horses and, as a turf course, is closed in winter. Therefore, trainers wishing to get started at Tipperary will have an onsite racecourse, little travel required so no outlay on a horse box. One imagines rent in Tipperary will be less than in Kildare and with only one all-weather track to be maintained, gallop fees will be substantially less than those required to maintain the Curragh’s vast array of grass, woodchip and sand gallops.

However, assuming Tipperary will be built something like the American equivalents at Santa Anita and all other U.S. tracks, it’s the sharing of riders and staff that will help trainers to get ahead financially as these costs are the biggest burden.

You then add in the savings on the split transport costs of feed, hay and bedding, the shared costs on transport from one venue of horses wishing to race at away meetings to another and the outlay becomes a whole lot smaller.

The training and galloping of horses at such a public venue may also help punters, as no doubt, like Australia and the US, morning exercise will be viewed by “clockers” - people in the stand watching and surveying everything that goes on.

Horses who are in great form will be plain to see, but likewise those who are out of form or not working hard will be obvious and rumours won’t be what someone heard but what they actually saw. It may not be great news for the National Hunt fraternity as I doubt such a venue will be suitable for soft ground stayers, but who knows what could appear in time if this venture works out in reality as well as it appears in theory.

Don’t worry though, jumping will always have Cheltenham and it starts Tuesday.

Next week is all about Cheltenham, but we have a couple of meetings this weekend to keep us busy. Willie’s first runner of the weekend is Energumene in the second race at Gowran this afternoon.

He won a bumper and could have been on the boat for Cheltenham for the Champion Bumper but connections were probably a bit more realistic and didn’t think that was for him. He has his attention switched to hurdling today, he has schooled really well, will love the heavy ground and I think he’ll win. He’s Paul’s only ride of the weekend and can send him off to Cheltenham in good humour.

Katoua Tara runs in the bumper. She worked well during the week. I’m a little surprised Patrick isn’t riding her. He is riding one for Henry but maybe he knows more about that than the rest of us. Richie Deegan rode our mare to win a point to point and he claims five off her today. She goes nicely but you’d have to read into the jockey bookings.

Our first runner tomorrow is Royal Rendezvous, in the Grade 2 novice chase. He could have gone for the Marsh Chase but is running here instead. Gallant John Joe finished in front of him the last day and is an obvious danger again – and they are the top two in my eyes – but I’m hoping this longer trip will help Royal Rendezvous reverse the form.

Willie has two in the Leinster National. For whatever reason, Chef Des Obeaux never rose a gallop in the Thyestes. He was never at the races then but ran a blinder in the Paddy Power on his previous outing. I just wonder, even though he is a huge horse, if he wants better ground. I have that in the back of my head. Danny rides Bonbon Au Miel, who hasn’t run in more than 700 days. It’s a huge ask but he is working very well, is in good nick and I wouldn’t be surprised if he put up a good show and even got into the frame.

Kaatskill Nap runs in the maiden hurdle. He didn’t jump great in his few runs during the summer but had a break through the winter and this is a comeback run for him. The conditions might catch him out but he’s one to consider when the ground dries out, and definitely one to keep an eye on when he goes back on the flat.

Ruby’s tips

NAP

Energumene

2:50 Gowran Park

DOUBLE

Royal Rendezvous

2:40 Naas, Sunday

Entoucas

3:45 Naas, Sunday

The Declan McBennett Interview: RTÉ Sport chief talks pundits, equality, Brolly, and too much TV

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

LOTTO RESULTS

Saturday, November 27, 2021

  • 1
  • 5
  • 15
  • 23
  • 39
  • 47
  • 30

Full Lotto draw results »