PAT HEALY: This week Pat looks ahead to an exciting clash at The Curragh on Saturday and shares his thoughts on the new whip rules.
First things first, if you haven’t been to Killarney, put it on your bucket list. We’re in the middle of a good weather spell over here at the moment and when there is that kind of weather there’s nowhere better to be racing than Killarney, in County Kerry. The mountains wrap themselves around the racecourse and it’s just a spectacle that needs to be seen to be really appreciated. There’s a big tourist industry in Killarney anyway and with over 50 hotels it’s a great place to go racing. Everybody enjoys themselves, it’s an easy-going atmosphere, and the racegoers have been rewarded this week with the weather.
The circus continues on to the Curragh this weekend and the Irish Oaks on Saturday, where it looks like Jessie Harrington will provide the strongest opposition to Emily Upjohn with her Royal Ascot winner Magical Lagoon. Hopefully it will be a brilliant race and I’m looking forward to seeing if John and Thady Gosden’s filly can make amends for her agonising defeat at Epsom.
Everybody has got their opinion on this and it’s going to take time to get used to it. It won’t come instinctively to jockeys and there will be people that fall short of the new rules for that reason. I think, like a lot of things in racing, the issue around the whip has been blown out of proportion, and as the old saying goes – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Having ridden one or two horses in my time, I couldn’t imagine being on a horse without a whip. The standard of jockeyship these days is as high as it’s ever been. I go racing 240 days a year, and I have never seen a jockey abuse a horse with the whip. Those days are well and truly gone and I think maybe racing is just creating negativity and drawing attention to itself when it doesn’t need to.
GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship
I mentioned Kerry and Dublin’s semi-final last week and what a fantastic match it was. Kerry came out on top and now make their way to the final on Sunday 24 June. The bookmakers had the handicap exactly right at a single point and that was Kerry’s winning margin. As a Kerry person watching it and being there it, was just a rollercoaster of emotion as these matches always are, but after 13 years we finally got Dublin off our back by beating them at Croke Park. We weren’t short on drama when Sean O’Shea kicked the last second free over the bar from 55-metres out in front of Hill 16 and a sea of Dublin supporters. The mental strength that must have taken can only be applauded.
The journey back to Listowel Sunday night was very short as we were in great spirits, but now it’s all eyes on Galway in the final which will by no means be a walkover. These sets of players will know each other very well from college and the Sigerson competition. Hopefully Kerry can claim their 38th All-Ireland title and we wish them luck!