PAT HEALY: This week Pat likens Honeysuckle’s Punchestown win to some of the greatest moments he’s ever witnessed, and reflects on Guineas weekend at Newmarket.
First and foremost, congratulations to all of the champions that received their awards on Saturday. Obviously, it was nothing new for JP [McManus], Willie [Mullins], Paul and Jodie [Townend] who all retained their crowns from last year. A big well done to Jack Foley for winning the Champion Conditional title, please God he can stay in one piece, as with Willie’s backing he will definitely be a name to keep an eye on, but for now we wish him luck as he begins to dance with the big boys.
Punchestown overall was a magnificent race meeting with so many highlights, but the biggest has to go to the atmosphere on Friday. The reception that Honeysuckle and Rachael [Blackmore] received was orgasmic I have to say. I’ve been lucky enough to have been going racing and photographing racing for 43 years now, and that reception was up there with the likes of Frankel and Istabraq – they really don’t come around often. The weather held out beautifully until the final day so there can be no complaints about that, but a big well done must go to Dick O’Sullivan and his team for putting on a fantastic festival.
Back at HQ there were two fantastic races in the shape of the 1000 and 2000 Guineas and as I said in this column last week, the word out of Charlie Appleby’s yard was not to discount Coroebus. Fair play to Charlie for getting the 1-2 with Native Trail as well, a great achievement in itself. For Irish hopes going forward, Aidan O’Brien and Ballydoyle will be delighted with Luxembourg’s run looking ahead to the Debry.
What a special weekend for James Doyle to land the Guineas double, I sent him a message on the Saturday after winning the 2000 and then again on Sunday after the 1000 where I told him to buy a lottery ticket on the way home because his luck is certainly in. It is more than deserved because he is a really lovely man and a talented one too, so it was great to see everyone thrilled for him.
Sean Bird rode his first winner at the Curragh on Monday after four years and 120 rides of trying, he managed to get in front at the winning post on Ginsburg, trained by Gerry Keane. Everyone was delighted for Sean because he’s a lovely kid and it just goes to show that you have to keep your head down and keep going because the success will come and hopefully he can kick on from here.