Last Sunday was a blustery day, a status orange weather warning was in place for a lot of west and southern counties but in racing the only storm was over the TV coverage Irish racing got last week.
I work for RTV and therefore am not impartial, but a lot of what happened last Sunday is so avoidable that it bugs me to listen to people giving out about the disservice Irish racing is getting.
The delays started at Kelso when their first race was late off and from that point on things only got worse.
Davy Russel fell ill before the third race in Punchestown and this resulted in a 12-minute delay there.
And, with Cork trying to get its card run off on time to finish before the weather got bad, the scope for delaying races intentionally to fit races in was pretty much nil.
Requests were made, but the weather didn’t allow Cork to help and the system of how requests are made from RTV to the BHA to the tracks is a chain with way too many links.
Irish racecourses, to give its clerks of course credit, are far more punctual than the English ones, where often you feel the off time is a mere guide to when a race will start.
Timekeeping counts in this situation and racecourses who depend on the money paid to them from SIS to keep their businesses running really need to start making a bigger effort.
Jockeys need to be in the parade ring on time, horses need to be there on time too, and they all need to be at the start on time.
The stewards have powers to fine people who are lagging behind and one or two is all the would be needed to sharpen everyone up.
The contribution which SIS makes is vital to the funding of racing and, for SIS to generate money, it needs the bookmakers.
And they need punters, who need time between races – firstly, just to watch the race, and, secondly, to get ready for the next one.
Delays will happen but efforts to make up time also need to be made. Better communication between tracks is required as well.
I believe race times not starting on a multiple of five minutes are due to be trialled in February.
There was a meeting on Thursday to discuss the festive race times and RTV will have an Irish-only channel on St Stephen’s Day.
ATR once had all these fixtures on its own too and I can remember Down Royal not being on any channel.
But racing needs to start pulling itself together and pulling in one direction. The attendances at the two Irish meetings last Sunday were dismal.
It needs to be altered along with the UK fixture list. Less is more. Ireland needs England, England needs Ireland. There are no borders in racing.
Racing is one show and a little bit of cooperation and forward thinking could make it the greatest show.
#RTVWrapOfTheDay: It was a day of celebrations and drama at @CheltenhamRaces! 🐎 Day one of #TheInternational meeting did not disappoint...— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 13, 2019
Today's results and free replays >>>https://t.co/GI57hUtDeF pic.twitter.com/sNDKqyPSnN
Monkfish looks a tasty dish for Willie
Willie doesn’t have a huge number of runners this weekend but has plenty of chances, and Monkfish should get him off to the perfect start by taking the two-mile-seven maiden hurdle this afternoon at Fairyhouse.
He was runner-up on his first start of the season and steps up in trip this time. He has improved a bit since that run, and I think he’ll be hard to beat.
Some Might Say runs in the bumper. She was fourth on debut, has improved a bit and I hope she’ll go well.
Over in Cheltenham, Willie runs Robin Des Foret in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. He has a nice weight, but I don’t know how well handicapped he is.
It’s his first run of the season and he seems to be well, but I think it’s a tough enough task for him.
We have four tomorrow in Navan, starting with Blackbow.
He got hassled and harried from a long way out the last day, when runner-up at Naas, but that was his first run after a long lay-off and he has improved for it.
He is a really good jumper and I think, like Monkfish today, he’ll be hard to beat.
I know our maiden hurdlers haven’t been hitting the mark, but we have three this weekend and they’ve all got great chances, and I’d be hopeful they could all win.
Et Dite is the other one. She was fourth at Naas on her first start for us.
She didn’t jump great that day, but it was her first run after a long lay-off and she has improved fitness-wise and in her jumping since that run.
Hopefully she will complete a hat-trick of maiden hurdle wins for Willie this weekend.
Willie runs two in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle. Chasing hasn’t worked out for Sayo so hopefully the drop back to hurdling will help him.
We think Dolciano Dici wants really soft ground and he should get that so we’re hopeful he will go well.
Outside of our own runners, the one I’ll be most interested in seeing is Andy Dufresne, in the Grade 2 novice hurdle.
I thought he was brilliant in Navan and I think he could be one of the most exciting novice hurdlers this season.
Gordon seems to have a whole host of them, but this fella looked really good to me. On his hurdling debut Mark let him stride on, got him into a good rhythm, and he did it really well.
There was an awful lot to like about that performance and he will take beating tomorrow.
Ruby's best bets
11.30am Navan, Sunday
1pm Navan, Sunday