There was good news this week for Irish racing fans with Racing TV revealing it would have a dedicated channel to show Ireland’s three meetings on St Stephen’s Day.
This is a complete one-off, but if you go to Sky Channel 435, which is called FreeSports, you will see a programme called Live Racing TV Irish Racing, which will start at 11:30am on St Stephen’s Day.
The reason this is a one-off is because Racing TV is still working to encourage people to use the Racing TV Extra service.
It may be technically difficult for people to get a grasp of – and I had to wrangle with it at the start – but if you’re a Racing TV subscriber and you figure out how to use it on your phone and on your laptop, you will see that all the Irish racing is there for you.
Getting it more easily accessible on the TV is challenging for Racing TV but they have been and still are working towards that, it’s just that it is taking longer than they thought.
They are trying to sort it out so that there will be a Racing TV App on your Smart TV and, instead of watching it on the normal channels, you can use the Racing TV Extra service through that App. That’s the goal, and always has been.
That aside, a very new and strange Christmas lies in store for me and it’s one that I am really looking forward to.
No longer will I open gifts on Christmas morning with my mind already racing one, two, three days ahead looking for a gift I want in the King George, Welsh National or Savills Chase.
No, my gifts will be like most other people’s this year, hopefully after Santa Claus has delivered his to my girls on Christmas morning. And what will happen the following days, for the first time in my adult life, can wait.
Seems strange writing that. And I will be in Kempton for the King George only I don’t have that uneasy feeling in my stomach, wondering will fog come in or will it snow or freeze. Will there be air traffic delays, if Kempton is off or if there is an inspection will I have time to reroute to Leopardstown?
The Aer Lingus schedule is not download and printed off in my kitchen, the deliberation of whether I should even go there for Footpad, Leopardstown for Laurina or Limerick for Faugheen is not keeping me awake.
Wondering should I be in Willie’s on Stephens morning to help finalise a decision on whether to choose Bellshill or Kemboy in the Savills, trying to figure out the tactics of all those races, wondering where other trainers might run.
Drifting off into Stephen’s Day before lunch time Christmas Day, physically present but mentally absent. Checking the weather, eating to the requirements of the 27th’s big handicaps, pouring the wine instead of drinking it.
No, those days are over, and they were great (magical even) but they won’t be missed.
I am off today and tomorrow, I have Game On on Monday evening, off Tuesday and Wednesday. And off means off. If it freezes, snows or lashes rain the consequences don’t have the same implications anymore.
See, there are no big decisions made or left to be made by what’s happening outside my back door, wondering have I picked right, will I swop, can I change?
The sick feeling as you wonder if you’re going to the wrong meeting, that restless sleep as one eye seems to be looking for your alarm all night so you don’t miss your flight.
The red eye to Heathrow to be sure you’re on time and don’t let a massive winner slip away because you didn’t allow enough time for delays.
The Christmas results won’t have the same effect on my life anymore, I will watch it all over the four days and debate what they might be on Christmas Day with Gillian and my father-in-law.But that sheer relief and ecstatic feeling
of winning a King George or any one of the 10 big festive features won’t be there either. I know that. But the build-up and pressure, the anxiety as you wait in hope that everything will go right — I won’t miss that.
I don’t know if it is, but I can’t wait to find out. Happy Christmas.
General can take command
Thurles is the last meeting before Christmas, and we run Max Dynamite and Small Farm in the beginners’ chase which gets the card underway.
There’s no doubt Max Dynamite is the classier of the two, but he wasn’t a prolific a hurdler as he was a flat horse. That said, he has schooled well and is running over three miles, which will give him plenty of time to jump.
He is a fraction careful, whereas Small Farm is an out-and-out three-mile chaser.
He was fifth behind Laurina on his first start over fences, which was a cracking run.
We also run two in the mares’ novice hurdle. Danny rides Rebel Og and Paul rides Drury.
I hope two miles around Thurles is far enough for Drury.
Paul must think she is improving as he has gone for her, but Rebel Og is a course and distance winner. She’s a free-going sort and I think Thurles suits her.
We run Kalanisi Og in the rated novice hurdle. I think you can put a line through her last run.
On her previous form she should give a good account of herself.
Willie Mullins should pay the Christmas expenses with General Counsel in the bumper, though he may be short enough in the betting.
Looking at the action across the water, Paisley Park runs in the Long Walk Hurdle. He definitely won’t be much of a price, but I think he’s a wonderful racehorse, one of the best horses in training, and will be in a league of his own today.