Ruby Walsh: Jessie can strike a blow for the over 70s

Last weekend was all about Newmarket and next week will be all about Royal Ascot, but last night and today the eyes of the racing world were and will be fixed on the Curragh.
Ruby Walsh: Jessie can strike a blow for the over 70s
At 73 years young, Jessie would have been expected to have cocooned herself at home since the end of March until the slight easing of restrictions for the over 70s last Monday.

Last weekend was all about Newmarket and next week will be all about Royal Ascot, but last night and today the eyes of the racing world were and will be fixed on the Curragh.

Pinatubo didn’t blow out in last Saturday’s 2000 Guineas, he just doesn’t appear to be as a good a three-year-old as we had hoped.

But Kameko won and will hopefully set off on a journey through the summer that might see him go through Epsom for the Derby, York for the Juddmonte, Leopardstown for the Irish Champion Stakes and Longchamp for the Arc.

Sports need stars and racing is no different. Japan and Enable will be lying in wait for him down the road but

I hope he is sent on the road for glory and tries to be the next Sea The Stars.

Last night Siskin enhanced his reputation to by stepping up to a mile and landing a first Classic success for Ger Lyons and Colin Keane.

The magnitude of the victory was lost in the vast empty Curragh arena, but it won’t have been lost on Ger or Colin, just like it wasn’t lost on Oisin Murphy or Andrew Balding last Saturday.

These victories mean far more than the cheer and reception.

They are big achievements, forever on the CV of all connections, forever a part of history and memories for them that will never be forgotten.

People stop saying well done to All Ireland champions, but All Ireland winners never forget they won one.

There is so much to like about this colt and, with the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in six days’ time probably coming too soon, a clash with one of the French stars, Victor Ludorum or Earthlight, in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood could be next.

Throw in whatever wins the St James Palace and you could have a cracker.

On the fillies’ front, Love was spectacular last Sunday and hopefully today Albigna will kick into her customary late overdrive somewhere around the furlong pole and fly past her rivals to set up a mighty clash - perhaps in the Oaks - with the Newmarket heroine.

Albigna’s claims for victory today don’t really need to be hyped up: she had three wins from five starts last year, was in season when running below par at the Curragh - behind Love, incidentally - and was unlucky at the Breeders’ Cup in Santa Anita, her running style from off the pace getting her in to all sorts of traffic jams round the tight Californian circuit .

But trainer form is a key factor in the chance of any horse and right now Jessica Harrington is red hot.

Seven winners from 27 runners in the first four days of action since the return of racing sees Jessie sit at the top of the hot trainers list, but something else thing struck me about that too.

At 73 years young, Jessie would have been expected to have cocooned herself at home since the end of March until the slight easing of restrictions for the over 70s last Monday.

I have no doubt she did stay at home but equally I have no doubt she did not cocoon herself in her house for the last two months with an army of flat horses on her door step, waiting and needing to be trained.

The same applies to Jim Bolger, Dermot Weld, Kevin Prendergast, my dad and many more trainers over 70 who stayed at home but not inside. I am not preaching for that age bracket here but merely wondering how the last week must have felt for each of them.

Their younger contemporaries have the option of going racing if they deem it necessary.

Many haven’t gone and plenty will argue a trainer’s job is done when the horse leaves the yard on the morning of a race, so they essentially don’t need to be there.

So, without owners in attendance right now, there is even less of a requirement for them to be in attendance, but that is where I slightly disagree.

Trainers do influence how jockeys ride. After all, they are basically managers and the best ones know how to gauge their jockey’s mood.

Tactics can and are being discussed remotely but that last-minute word when the pressure is on and a trainer looks you in the eye to reassure you about what you’re going to do, or when you have cocked it up big time and still have five more races to ride in, looking your trainer in the eye to gauge their mood for forgiveness can determine the rest of the day.

Giving confidence or a rollicking is far more effective face to face, and then you throw in the pride any trainer gets from watching their horse win and I can see why they want and need to be there sometimes.

Training racehorses is a business and a labour of love but it is also carried out by people with a deep love for the animals in their care and, as soft as it may sound, just watch each one pat a winner and look into its eyes.

What I don’t understand is how we have come to conclusion that we know best for all people over 70 years of age. Surely, the older you get the wiser you get, so surely if somebody over that age decides to venture out it should be their choice?

They know they are at a higher risk than others but why aren’t they allowed to roll the dice and make that call for themselves?

Plenty of people who reach 70 and well beyond are still young at heart and sharp of their mind. They are probably more aware of their physical health than most 50-year-olds and those who are weaker know it and should be minded and be allowed to be cared for. But there should be a choice.

Elsewhere on today’s card, Lancaster House should be hard to beat in the Gladness Stakes, at 6:45, and Magic Wand the same in the Lanwades Stud Stakes at 7.45. In the week ahead,

Verdana Blue, who runs in the Ascot Stakes on Tuesday, is my fancy, and Japan, in the Prince of Wales Stakes on Wednesday, is also worth watching.

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