PAT HEALY: This week Pat shares his thoughts on the Leopardstown ground debate and praises Ginto after his win at Naas.
On the outside looking in, it’s worrying that the likes of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott have said what they’ve said this week after certain horses have won. I sympathise with Leopardstown and the management, I really do, as I don’t know what they can do. The fact of the matter is that in 2010 there was a drainage job done on the track and as far as I’m aware no one spoke about the track or the ground until eight years later when we had a winter drought in 2018. I just think since then it’s a topic of conversation for people in racing. We’ve talked about it before and we’ve said that the drainage is so good these days its golf course standard and that’s the problem, but on the outside looking in I really can see both sides of the discussion. Leopardstown were lucky enough to get two inches of rain on Christmas Day ahead of the Christmas Festival and Irish Racing has a fantastic product in the Dublin Racing Festival which I just hope isn’t going to be ruined over ‘ground’.
It was the first Grade One of the year last Sunday at Naas in the Lawlor’s Hurdle which was won by Ginto. We flagged this horse up when he won his point-to-point at Tattersalls as a horse for the future, and he’s now won his last four races, including a Grade One. His owners Noel and Valerie Moran also picked up their first Grade One success and it’s fantastic for them as they have invested heavily in the National Hunt game in the last 18 months. They are building up their Bective Stud just outside Navan in County Meath and this is a well-deserved success. But whatever Ginto does over hurdles will be a bonus to them because he has chaser written all over him.
I was in Dundalk this week for the first meeting restricted to jockeys that had ridden 20 winners or less in the last season. I think it’s a great initiative and a huge well done to all involved at HRI and Dundalk. It gives the hard-working top jockeys a chance to take a few weeks off and give the treadmill a miss, as well as providing a great opportunity for young jockeys to make a breakthrough and get their name out there.