PAT HEALY: This week Pat Healy reflects on a very successful Saudi Cup for the Irish, and shares his excitement for this year’s Champion Hurdle after Goshen’s win at the weekend.
Where better to start than with Shane Foley winning the International Jockeys’ Challenge out in Saudi Arabia, it was fantastic to see him do so well, and it came as no surprise. We know that he has the talent and with the right rides, he was able to show the world what he’s capable of. Hopefully, when the big meetings come around in the future, people will recognise his name and they will know what he’s capable of in the big races, not just here but all over the world, and he can enjoy further success.
We were also done proud with David Egan winning on Mishriff in the Saudi Cup. I photographed a young David in his days pony riding at the Dingle Pony races, and he came across as the ultimate professional and spoke so well, so it’s no surprise to see him taking the spotlight on the big stage. He rode a fantastic race and while there might not be many bigger pay days ahead for David, I’m sure there’ll be bigger races to come his way. The two jockeys have projected their names to a world-wide audience by doing it on the global stage.
It was great to see Willie Mullins do what he does best in Saudi, which is winning. He picked out the right race for True Self and it was a great training effort to win it. The rain that came in Saudi must have been a help, but you make your own luck in these events. Willie is the ultimate professional and a genius when it comes to training racehorses. True Self showed that she’s a wonderful mare and can win overseas like she did in Australia, so I guess now she’ll probably go back to Australia and who’s to say there won’t be another Group 1 on the Flat for her.
Willie is great for the media and it’s fascinating to see where he’s come from and the way his operation has got to the top, it’ll be exciting to see what lies in the future for him. Time and again he has proven that he is capable of scoring the big ones when he wants too, with the Gold Cup being the perfect example, but it’ll certainly be interesting to see where he fixes his sights next. Who’s to say he might not want to go one better than he did with Max Dynamite a couple of years ago in the Melbourne Cup and win it. He’s always looking around the world for what opportunities he can conquer, and this year that will certainly be the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, a race he has surprisingly never won.
I was delighted this weekend for the Moore family and Jamie in particular as Goshen was very easy on the eye at Wincanton. It’s hard to know whether that was a below performance from Tom Symonds’ Song For Someone or whether he was at his best, but take nothing away from the performance, it was spectacular. The Champion Hurdle will be a fascinating contest this year and made even more exciting by Goshen’s victory on Saturday, but as things stand, I’m wearing my Irish colours and siding with Honeysuckle. What she did at Leopardstown the last day was very impressive and she will benefit from the mares’ allowance.