PAT HEALY: This week Pat speaks of the highs and lows of last week’s Galway Festival and looks ahead to the Curragh on Saturday
It was a fantastic week at Galway last week, it’s the number one festival in the country for a reason. Michael Maloney said he was delighted with the crowds even though there were reports that the crowd was down 10% on 2019, which probably just reflects where racing is at currently. Galway is the barometer for racing, and it will be their attendances that will be what we measure against going forward.
There were fantastic news stories all week and the big races never fail to disappoint. From ‘Shark’ Hanlon and Hewick landing the Galway Plate to Tudor City and Tony Martin in the Galway Hurdle, and how could we not mention Brian Duffy winning the valuable Mile Handicap with Magic Chegaga – one of only four horses in his stable. Of course, amongst all the good things, there’s always the downsides. Wesley Joyce’s fall on Thursday was a hard one to take for everybody, and really shook the place. We just wish him all the best and will keep him and his family in our thoughts and pray for his full recovery.
Galway had mixed cards at the Festival this year, and for the upcoming Harvest Festival at Listowel we’ve offered to stick to the same format that we did last year as it’s easier to manage the track if the weather takes a turn. That’s why on Tuesday and Thursday we will have all-Flat days. Going forward from 2023, we will be looking to bring mixed cards to Listowel. After spending a lot of money on a big drainage job this year, which will have more than settled in by 2023, I can’t think why there would be a reason we shouldn’t be able to host a mixed card in 2023.
It’s a competitive renewal of the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday. Aidan O’Brien saddles Little Big Bear and there’s also the Royal Ascot winner in Bradsell. It’s going to be a great race, it always is, the roll call of winners has some very impressive names to it and not least Siskin who landed the spoils back in 2019.
It’s not just Group 1 action this weekend, though, it’s also the Dingle races in the beautiful Kerry town. It’s the Cheltenham of the Pony racing fraternity and where all the stars of the future start out. It’s great that the insurance issue has been sorted so the meeting can run and we wish them all the best for the weekend.