PAT HEALY: This week Pat looks ahead to an exciting Irish Derby Festival which sees Tuesday run in the main event.
Royal Ascot was a fantastic meeting. It has probably cemented its place as the number one international meeting in the world with all the overseas challengers and runners. Nick Smith and his team at Ascot do a great job in attracting the Japanese, Australians, and the Americans over. I think there were 62 Irish runners in the five days and eight winners so the Irish will be very happy but aside from that it was just a fantastic occasion and a fantastic race week.
Looking ahead to the Derby this weekend, I suppose the big talking point is the jocking-off of Rob Hornby for Colin Keane. Personally, and I don’t know Rob Hornby, the Irish have been on the reverse side of the coin many a time and I think there is always a bit of a reaction when it happens to one of our own. This time we’re on the other side of the coin. I’ve mentioned Colin Keane in my BETDAQ column for the past two years saying that he’s on the verge of being a world class rider, well he’s there now and he’s being recognised for it. You have to feel for Rob Hornby, I thought he didn’t have a great ride at Epsom and that’s the nature of the jockey business. Tom Marquand got jocked-off English King in the Epsom Derby two years ago by Frankie Dettori and he has gone on to do great things so I’m sure Rob will have that in the back of his mind and I’m sure he’ll carry on doing what he does best. He’ll have many big days ahead of him I’ve no doubt.
It’s a fantastic decision by John Magnier to run Tuesday in the Derby, it really adds to the race’s complexion. The race probably needed it in fairness. Balanchine was the last filly to win the Derby, some 25 years ago. I suppose the question is, and we’ll find out on Saturday, are the three-year-old fillies a better crop than the three-year-old colts? With Nashwa going and winning in France last weekend she’s franked the Oaks form already. Tuesday is a class horse, placed in the Irish 1000 Guineas and then going on to land the Oaks. I think it’s a brilliant decision by John Magnier and I’m looking forward to it. It will hopefully be a fantastic contest between her and Westover although I wouldn’t leave out Lionel, the David Menuisier runner. He won what used to be the Predominate Stakes at Goodwood which is a decent Derby trial so I wouldn’t leave him out of the reckoning either. I’m looking forward to a fantastic Irish Derby on Saturday.
I’m currently at the Tattersalls Derby Sales where trade is very strong. The point-to-point men are awfully busy, as has been the case for the past couple of years. I love being here, seeing the horses coming from their consigners, being sold on and I’m looking forward to seeing them on the racetrack in the future. The top lot on Wednesday was a filly by Kapgarde that was sold for €310,000 to Gordon Elliott racing. It’s a fantastic thing for fillies and it’ll be fascinating to watch her progress through the training ranks and to see how she ends up as a broodmare.