PAT HEALY:  Breeders’ Cup a classic

PAT HEALY: “I Was There”

PAT HEALY: This week Pat looks back on the Punchestown Festival as it comes to an end and looks ahead to the Guineas this weekend.


Punchestown

I just want to start by saying that when everyone rocks up to these big festivals and everything is there and in place, but being involved in a racecourse myself, it doesn’t happen by magic. I’m in awe of the ground staff and the team they have here at Punchestown, because they have 200 acres of racetrack between the hurdle, chase and cross-country track. If you could take your pick, you would not choose to host a National Hunt festival at the end of April, not for a meeting where you have to provide ground for winter jumpers, but Brendan Sheridan the Clerk of the Course here has done a remarkable job and year in year out it’s always the same. Everybody has been so complimentary about the ground, from Willie Mullins to Gordon Elliott, they’re happy to come here and race their best horses which is testament to the team here and the track management.

The way Gordon kicked off the meeting on Tuesday was brilliant, everyone was thrilled for him. Four winners is no mean feat, especially in Willie’s playground. He even said himself that this time last year he wasn’t here, he was lying on a beach in Portugal watching the festival on his phone. So, for him to be back and in the winners’ enclosure was great to see and I’m glad he’s back where he belongs.

If day one was all about Gordon, then day two was all about Allaho, it was one of those days that you look back on and say to people “I was there, I witnessed that”. It was phenomenal what he did, and how he broke those seasoned National Hunt horses’ hearts’, was staggering. He’s a physical, imposing specimen and I just love watching him on a racetrack, and again, that performance was special. The King George looks wide open and made for him next season, but then Willie will have to decide what to do next, do you train him as a Gold Cup horse or stick with the Ryanair? I just hope he stays sound and in one piece, because he’s just another bit of intrigue to an already exciting jumps season ahead.

Guineas

I’m really looking forward to the Guineas this weekend, Luxembourg will arrive without a run, going the tried and tested Aidan [O’Brien] route. Native Trail was very impressive when we saw him on reappearance, and of course I’m always looking for an Irish winner in these big meetings, but I’m torn on this one. My great friend Stormin’ Norman [Norman Williamson] bought Native Trail and sold him as a breezer to Godolphin, so to sell a 2000 Guineas winner would be a great feather in his Oak Tree Farm operation. The word about town is also that Charlie Appleby isn’t discounting his other runner, Coroebus. I’m just looking forward to seeing a fantastic race.

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