PAT HEALY: This week Pat reflects on Irish Champions Weekend and looks ahead to the Listowel Harvest Festival.

Irish Champions Weekend

To start with I must say hats off to everyone for another wonderful Champions weekend. Joe Foley, the committee, and the rest of the team showed Irish racing at its best for the tenth time and they really put Irish racing front and centre of the international stage. The Champion Stakes really didn’t disappoint, and it was a fantastic race. Leopardstown was such a fun day out and they were lucky with the weather which created a great atmosphere and crowd. On the flip side though, I felt sorry for the Curragh on Sunday, it was a shocking day. the crowd wasn’t as good but like I always say, you could have Arkle running on the pitch but if you don’t have the weather then these days the crowds won’t come because people can bet and watch from home. Gone are the days where people had to come to the track to watch quality horses and have a bet.

Dylan Browne McMonagle

Dylan rode his first Group One winner for his boss Joseph O’Brien on Al Riffa over the weekend. Since he rode his first winner at Navan I’ve been mentioning him in this blog, and granted he’s grown up a bit since then, but I have to say he’s still the same well-mannered kid and by all accounts is a hard worker for his boss on the hill. So, it was great to see him bag his first Group One winner on Sunday. His mum Caroline and dad John were both there, as they are any time they get the chance to see him ride. They’ve been keen supporters of his and helped him come up through the pony racing ranks, so to witness him winning his first Group One must be an exceptional feeling. I wish them all the best for the future.

English St Leger

Across the pond for the English St Leger, I must say well done to David Egan and Eldar Eldarov. David’s another young hard worker who keeps his head down and communicates well. He obviously had a high-profile job with Prince Faisal before they went their separate ways, but he’s put his head down and is working hard which is paying off. This was his first Classic winner and unbelievably it was the first time his mum Sandra had seen him ride a winner in the flesh!

I also have to tip my hat to my great friend Stormin’ Norman Williamson, this was his second Classic winner this year, after Native Trail, that he sold as a breeze up horse under his Oak Tree Farm banner.

Harvest Festival

The Harvest Festival is finally here and kicks off on Sunday for seven days. The forecast for the next week is very good and warm so we’ll probably be watering what is nice, perfect jumping ground and it’ll probably be on the easy side of good for the flat horses. I’m looking forward to hopefully everyone having a great time. A big thank you to the sponsors and racegoers that support us and make it possible, but also a big thanks to the trainers, owners, jockeys, grooms, and everyone else that all help to make the Harvest Festival a great experience. It’s all appreciated and now we just have to hope that it’s a great week and everyone comes home safe and sound. As our slogan in Listowel says, serious fun, serious racing!