PAT HEALY: The latest racing stories that have caught Pat’s eye starting with the Willie Mullins media morning.

Willie Mullins’ stars on show

It was Willie Mullins’ media morning on Monday. We got to see all of his stars, from Galopin Des Champs to State Man. I’m sure what we saw was normal morning exercise with nothing too strenuous.

Obviously, the bad news was that Allaho unfortunately won’t be travelling to Cheltenham, but otherwise it looks like a happy camp and everything seemed to be in great shape.

Willie has done all his media mornings and I think from now the yard goes into lockdown – there’s no more visits and press around. It’s squeaky bum time for him and his team now, four weeks out from the Festival.

I’d just like to say a big thanks to Justin O’Hanlon our Racing Post colleague who organised it for the Irish media, and of course a huge thank you to Willie and his team for hosting us.

It’s always good to have pictures of the horses on the gallops and in their home environment for the media in the few weeks leading up to Cheltenham.

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The banks return to Knockanard

Well done to the Knockanard Point-to-Point committee. They’ve put in a banks course at Knockanard, and I believe it was the first banks race held at the venue in 70 years.

They got great social media coverage during the week, with the help of Brian Arnold. A lot of us in racing know Brian through his TikTock account. He works for the company that supply pictures for race meetings, Iris, and Brian put up a drone during the week to video the banks course.

They were rewarded with a great turnout on the day, and the huge crowd were there to see Benny Walsh ride Vital Island to success over the banks.

One for the notebooks

I was up in County Down at the Kirkistown Point-to-Point on Saturday.

Everybody has to keep an eye out for a horse called Jhentong Enki that won the four-year-old maiden.

He’s by French sire Buck’s Boum and looked very smart on debut. He comes from the Colin Bowe yard, and Colin was there himself, which is a sign of the regard he holds this horse in; the fact he made the long journey up to Kirkistown to watch him perform.

He’s bound for the Cheltenham sale during the Festival, so it’ll be interesting which ‘hotel’ this particularly promising horse ends up in.

Debut win between the flags at Punchestown

We have to say well done also to young Matthew Love, who rode his first winner on Down The Highway for trainer Ciaran Murphy.

Young Matthew is only in fifth year at school and this was a first success for him on his first ride between the flags.

We wish him all the best going forward.

Dundalk double

At Dundalk last Friday night, young Cian MacRedmond had a double on the card. He’s attached to trainer Ado McGuinness’ yard and Ado gave him great praise, saying what a hard worker he is and that he’s a massive help around the yard.

He was away riding work in America for a few weeks over Christmas and Ado was saying that he thinks Cian learnt a lot from it and it has sharpened him up.

Well done to Cian, and he’s a name to keep an eye on for the upcoming flat season.

Navan on Sunday

Blazing Khal was the star performer of the day and it was a star training performance from Charles Byrnes too. As Charles said himself, if Blazing Khal is to have any chance in the Stayers’ Hurdle, he would have wanted to have won the way he did.

He was ridden by Charles’ son Philip, and just for good measure they went on to complete a double when Temptationinmilan just got up to win the penultimate race.

There were also smart performances on the day from Hunters Yarn, who is bound for Cheltenham now, and from Gordon Elliott’s Firefox, who was very impressive in the bumper. I’m sure he’ll be winning again when we see him over hurdles.

Until next week.

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