PAT HEALY: This week Pat congratulates Ken Condon on his Deauville success and reacts to the news that there will only be 1000 fans in attendance each day at the Galway Races.
I want to give huge congratulations to Ken Condon for his win with Laws Of Indices in the Prix Jean Prat at Deauville on Sunday. It was once again confirmation that the racing in Ireland is right at the top of the rankings compared to the other jurisdictions around the world. For Ken it’s brilliant as he’s obviously tasted success in the past with Romanised, but it shows that still when he has the ammo, he’ll hit the target.
Ken doesn’t have a huge team at home, maybe 50 or 60 horses, but he bought Dessie Hughes’ old stable in the Curragh so has fantastic facilities to train in and he’s shown he can deliver on the biggest stage. His wife Pauline, who was a top amateur jockey in her day, is a big cog in the wheel and hopefully they’ll taste plenty more success at the top table moving forward.
It was disappointing to hear the news that Galway are only allowed 1,000 spectators per day for their Festival. They had hoped to get 5000 per day, so to hear it’s only 1,000 is pretty frustrating for all concerned. From my perspective, it’s quite concerning given we’re not too far off the Harvest Festival at Listowel – a meeting we were hoping to have 5000 people at.
You do just have to wonder what the issue is with regards to horse racing and the government guidelines. GAA are allowed 18,000 people in Croke Park and they’re looking to get double that for the semi-finals and final. Granted, it’s a big stadium with lots of space, but racing is an outdoor sport and places like Galway would have no problem whatsoever hosting 5,000 people whilst still remaining socially distanced, so it seems pretty confusing to all of us. I’ve given up trying to second guess the government, and I totally appreciate these decisions are very tricky to make, but it appears, at least to the majority, a very strange decision.
We’re just all incredibly frustrated by the way things are at the moment. At Listowel we had to do a drainage job at the track – a job that has cost well into six figures. It’s something we have to do in order to be able to host racing, but all of these things cost money as do the upkeep of many other areas. I think sometimes people think racecourses are delighted that they are getting TV revenue and streaming rights money and they don’t really care about patrons coming in the gates. That couldn’t be further away from the truth. You need paying customers coming through the gates in order to pay the bills that all racecourses have as well as for a variety of other things. No paying customers makes it a very tough time for racetracks and let’s just hope that we’re not too far off returning to some normality.