Thursday, June 5, 2014

Recent News




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Joseph O' Brien ran into some criticism at Leopardstown this week when beaten on four very short priced favourites, two of the at odd-on. However this is unlikely to trouble O’ Brien who was champion jockey in Ireland in 2012 with 87 winners. He then retained his title in 2013 with 126 winners and in doing so, set a new record which surpassed that held previously by Mick Kinane which was 20 years old. It is a long season and there will be better days ahead.
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Tony McCoy has stated that this could be his last or second last Cheltenham festival and the question on everyone’s mind is who would be JP McManus’s new retained jockey ? It would be the most high profile position in jumps racing and a massive challenge to emulate the predecessor. Barry Geraghty is unlikely to leave Nicky Henderson and both Ruby Walsh and Davy Russell are approaching the end of their careers. The appointment of the last two stable jockeys points towards youth, Bryan Cooper  for Michael O’ Leary and Danny Mullins for Barry O’ Connell are both 21 years of age. If JP could prise Paul Townend (23) away from Closutton, it could well be a worthy and rewarding coup.
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In the space of half an hour in Dubai everything changed for Michael Halford. Eastern Rule at 33/1 finished ninth in the Godolphin Mile but in the next race, the Dubai Gold Cup, Certerach, also at 33/1, ran a blinder. Already a winner at Meydan this season, Certerach dourly beat the 7/4 favourite, Cavalryman and claimed the $600,000 first prize for owner Paul Rooney.
Halford aside, Dubai World Cup night was a forgetful one for Irish trainers. The highlight of Aidan O’ Brien’s team was a fourth place finish in the UAE Derby. To add hubris, the winner of this race was ridden by former Ballydoyle stable jockey Jamie Spencer.
Another fancied Irish runner, Eddie Lynam’s Sole Power finished down the field in the Al Quoz 5f Sprint but the big Irish disappointment on the night was another Ballydoyle horse, Ruler Of The World. Last year’s Epsom Derby winner, the 4yo raced for the first time in the colours of Al Shaqab Racing, who bought a 50% share in the horse the week of the Dubai World Cup. This may well be a sign of things to come for Ballydoyle and Coolmore and it opens up possibilities for a new and powerful challenge to Sheikh Mohammed and the Darley and Godolphin outfits. From now on Ruler Of The World will abandon the dark blue silks of John Magnier and race in the new racing colours of Grey, gold braid, maroon velvet cap, with a gold fringe.
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Qatari investment powerhouse QIPCO Holdings and Horse Racing Ireland have announced a new three-year sponsorship agreement for the Irish Champion Stakes which will take place at Leopardstown in the middle of September. This race will be the feature on Day One of the new Irish Champions Weekend and features a prize-fund for of €1,000,000, a significant increase on the 2013 figure of €750,000. The two day meeting will also feature the Estate Irish St. Leger.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said : “We are honoured to welcome QIPCO as sponsors of the Irish Champion Stakes and on behalf of Horse Racing Ireland, I would like to thank Sheikh Hamad, Sheikh Fahad and their family for their support. The Irish Champion Stakes is one of the most important races in the international flat racing  calendar and with the involvement of QIPCO it can become the first leg of a  ‘Triple Crown’ of European Championship races, followed by the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp and the QIPCO British Champions Stakes at Ascot in October.”
The Irish Champions Stakes was first run in 1976 and winners include Sadler’s Wells, Daylami, High Chaparral and New Approach. The winner of the race receives an automatic entry to the Breeders Cup with all entry and travelling expenses paid
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Ballinrobe, awarded Irish Racecourse of the Year in 2012, has announced that two high-value races will be held on May 27th  which will be the inaugural McHale Raceday. The Mayo National and the McHale Coranna Handicap Hurdle each carry a prize-fund of €30,000 and will make them the most valuable races ever staged at Ballinrobe.
McHale, one of the leading Agriculture Dealers in Ireland are based in Claremorris  will sponsor six races on the day. The company is run by Managing Director Padraic McHale, who commented on the sponsorship deal: “We are very happy to sponsor the Raceday on the 27th of May. Over the last 15 years since we opened the factory in Ballinrobe, we have watched as the Racecourse has developed into a top-class facility. The Racecourse Committee and Management deserve the height of praise for developing the Racecourse into the superb venue it is today”
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Jim Bolger and Aidan O’ Brien both received commemorative pins and crystal pikes at the Curragh Racecourse. The pins and pikes were designed by Wexford Artist Fred Curtis and marked the trainer’s status as Wexford Ambassadors. Both Bolger and O’ Brien are Wexford natives and were chosen as Councillor John Hegarty, Chairman of the Committee charged with delivering the Ambassador Programme revealed: “While the county has many assets, none are more significant than the quality of its native people.  At home and across the world, in sport, literature, music, media and business, Wexford men and women have achieved significant success, disproportionately, it has to be agreed, to the size of the county. Jim Bolger and Aidan O’Brien are Wexford natives, professional, hugely successful, globally respected and yet very much associated with their home county; we felt were the ideal representatives for the county and what it has to offer.”
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