PAT HEALY: This week Pat reviews what we learned from the recent action at Leopardstown and Killarney, before paying tribute to retiring Point-to-Point jockey Jamie Codd.
We were treated to some good action over the weekend at Leopardstown where Irish and English Classic clues were on offer. In the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, it was hard not to be impressed by Bolshoi Ballet’s performance and based on that he’s more than deserving of his place at the head of the betting for the Derby next month. It looks the best trial from that we’ve seen so far and although we have the Dante to come on Thursday, which I’m sure will give us a clearer picture, Bolshoi Ballet looks the most likely winner at this stage. Having said that, I wouldn’t lose faith in Mac Swiney. Looking back through his two-year-old form, he had six runs last season. He seems to get better as the season goes on and I just think he’s one to very much keep on the right side of. He just took a blow at the crucial time on Sunday and you’d have to think he’ll improve for the run when we next see him.
Meanwhile in the Irish 1000 Guineas Trial, Joan Of Arc was a good winner too. She looks another very good filly for Aidan O’Brien this year and with the likes of Mother Earth, Snowfall and of course Love, he looks to have a very strong group of female horses for the season ahead. Interestingly she beat a Henry de Bromhead by just under two lengths showing once again that it doesn’t matter too much for these top trainers whether it’s on the Flat or over Jumps, if they have the ammunition they’ll have great success. You just have to look at the likes of Jessica Harrington, Joseph O’Brien, and Alan King as a few examples of dual-purpose trainers who excel across both codes. It’s great as it means we get to see them strut their stuff for the whole year and not just for half of it, which for us racing fans makes for brilliant viewing.
I was at Killarney for the three-day festival and there was some great action. The racing was particularly good on Monday where it was great to see Samcro get his head in front again. He looked a picture in the parade ring and you’d be hopeful he can build on the win over the summer. It will be interesting to see where the guys at Cullentra go next with him, but I believe the Galway Plate is the long-term target and it would be great to see him rock up there.
Shady Operator won the Killarney National with Kevin Sexton taking the ride from Darragh O’Keefe, who had to unfortunately sit it out because of an eye injury. Amazingly, Darragh was back a couple of days later showing the real resolve these National Hunt jockeys have to get up off the floor and go again. They are constantly battered and bruised, but they never complain and their mental fortitude is truly remarkable.
I’d like to wish Jamie Codd a happy retirement from the Point-to-Point game. He’s had an amazing career lasting 21 years which has seen him ride over 900 winners. He’s a superb jockey and we’ve seen time and time again at the likes of Cheltenham and Aintree the quality he has. You’d have to think a personal highlight would have been the double he rode at the Cheltenham Festival aboard Fayonagh and Cause Of Causes a few years ago. Both were very special to him and I’m sure that was a day he’ll never forget.
I’m sure he’s looking forward to spending plenty of time with his family, while we’ll still see plenty of him riding in bumpers for Cullentra. I wish him all the best and it was a pleasure to see him riding between the flags.