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🆕 PAT HEALY: Brand Ambassador and renowned Horse Racing Photographer Pat Healy is here with his new blog, where he gives his take on all things racing, shares some of his best memories, and more. Make sure to check in with Pat for his weekly update from the track.

For those that don’t know me, I’m Pat and I’ve been involved in horse racing as a photographer for over 30 years. I’m really looking forward to giving my thoughts on the big topics in racing while offering BETDAQ’s customers an insight into some of the stories I’ve picked up along the way. 

A week since racing resumed

We’ve now had a week of racing in Ireland and I suppose things have been pretty much how I thought they would given we had a couple of meetings behind closed doors before the break. It’s a very strange feeling walking around the enclosures at a racetrack and not having any public there. It’s certainly unique and something we have never experienced before, but the brilliant weather we’ve had has made things much more bearable for all.

I’ve been racing every day since we restarted and the whole process of entering the racecourse has been very straightforward. When you turn up it only takes 20 or so seconds for you to have your temperature and your pass checked which is great for everyone concerned. HRI have done a brilliant job to get things going again and although it’s a bit different, these are the protocols we have to stick to in order for racing to go ahead. At the end of the day, that’s all we want and as I said, the process is very slick and no-one has had any complaints.

My day-to-day stuff hasn’t really changed and I’m still able to photograph the action from the track. I obviously can’t get any pictures of owners celebrating because they aren’t allowed in at the moment, but hopefully it won’t be too long before that changes. 

Siskin’s Guineas win the highlight on the track so far

I don’t think there’s any doubt that Siskin’s win in Friday’s Irish 2000 Guineas (pictured below) has been the highlight so far. Colin Keane’s stock continues to rise season by season and he’s now riding at a level similar to that of Mick Kinane, Pat Smullen and Johnny Murtagh. He gave the horse an absolutely brilliant ride and never panicked when he got caught in that pocket. He’s a top-class rider and needs to be recognised internationally for just how good he is.

His nickname in the racing game is ‘Baby Mick’ because he rides a lot like Kinane did and you can see a lot of similarities between the two already. It’s a great compliment for any young jockey to be associated with and you feel he’s just going to go from strength-to-strength in the coming seasons. 

I was delighted for both Ger and Shane Lyons who have put so much effort in over the past few years. Shane walks the track every day before racing and is one of the hardest working men I know, so to see them win a Classic was really fantastic. 

O’Brien dominance not a bad thing for racing

Plenty of people will say that Siskin’s win in the Guineas was good for Irish racing and I suppose it’s always a treat to see someone outside of Ballydoyle scooping of the one big prizes. However, I’ve been in the game long enough to know that there are always people that dominate the sport, particularly on the Flat. Peaceful’s win in the 1000 Guineas was Aidan O’Brien’s 43rd Classic and sometimes you just have to stand up and applaud the man for being a genius who is absolutely brilliant at what he does. Of course Aidan will win the majority of the big races because he has the best horses, but it doesn’t mean he’ll win every one. Ken Condon won a Classic, Willie Mullins won a Classic and now Ger Lyons has won one, so there will always be a spread. 

Ger bangs the drum perhaps more than any other trainer in that you get out what you put in. He’s put his heart and soul into training horses and he’ll be the first to admit that it tastes a lot sweeter because he beat who he beat in the manner that Siskin did. As brilliant as that win was, we shouldn’t forget what Aidan is doing and I’m pretty sure we’ll be talking about his spell at the top for years to come. Trainers like O’Brien, Mullins and Gordon Elliott have raised the bar for any trainer getting into the game and that can only be a good thing. If up-and-coming trainers can aspire to those levels, our sport is going to be in very good hands.

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