PAT HEALY: Plenty for Brand Ambassador Pat Healy to discuss this week as he reflects on Princess Zoe’s win last weekend and states the case for Ballydoyle to bounce back after issues with contaminated feed.
Princess Zoe’s crowned Cadran queen
Princess Zoe winning the Group 1 Prix du Cadran had to be the highlight of the Arc Weekend for me – it feels like she’s captured the hearts of Irish racing. It’s a fantastic achievement for Paddy Kehoe, the owner, Tony Mullins, the trainer, and Joey Sheridan who gave the mare a great ride. This can work as a huge stepping stone for Joey, who is still a 5lb claimer, while Tony has been training for years and I’m delighted that he’s finally got his hands on a top class horse. She could become one of the great mares, like a Dawn Run or an Annie Power.
The question now is do they want to risk her over Jumps? It’s a great position to be in but a very tricky decision to make, because she’s a Group 1 winner on the Flat and the risks of going hurdling are obvious.
As for Tony (pictured below), he’s probably the biggest character in Irish racing. People would have seen what he’s like at the Cheltenham preview nights over the years and he really is a great character. He’s obviously got all the tools to train a good one too and I think Irish racing as a whole is absolutely over the moon for him.
Weld with another masterstroke
In the same way that Princess Zoe highlighted the brilliance of Tony Mullins, Tarnawa proved that Dermot Weld can still get one right to the very top. He’s cherry-picked the races for her all season and it really couldn’t have turned out any better. He picks his battles well and eight or nine times out of 10 he wins those battles.
This filly is another string to his bow and reinforces what a genius trainer Dermot really is. The Aga Khan is well-known for letting his horses have a crack at the big international prizes and I’d imagine everything, including the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, is on the table for her.
Ballydoyle will bounce back
It was strange not to have any Ballydoyle representatives at Longchamp over the weekend and the situation with the contaminated feed is a very unfortunate one for them. I’m sure it’s been an extremely tough few days for Aidan, but his statement was very clear that he didn’t want to put racing into disrepute and I’m sure they’ll bounce back before too long. Aidan and Ballydoyle always do what’s right for racing and I’m sure they’ll be back to winning Group 1s very soon.
Keane was sweet on Sottsass
As for the Arc itself, you could just tell from Frankie’s [Dettori] body language that Enable didn’t enjoy the ground. As they turned into the home straight you could see Frankie niggling away, and quite rightly he didn’t go too hard on her. It just goes to show how hard it is to try and win the race three times and you wonder whether a horse will ever win three Arcs.
As for the winner, Sottsass, I’m delighted for Jean-Claude Rouget and connections. They came over and ran in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown and after the race Colin Keane, who rode him that day, got off the horse and said, if you run him in the Arc he’ll be there or thereabouts, so I suppose you could say Ireland had a little part to play too.
Easy Game and point-to-pointing
Back home in Ireland at Gowran I thought Easy Game was a good winner of the Grade 2 Chase. Going forward I think we may see him land a nice Grade 1 prize between now and Christmas if he keeps progressing.
Finally, I want to give a huge thanks to the IHRB who have worked so hard to get us back to point-to-point racing. I went to Toomebridge last weekend and it ran like clockwork despite all the challenges that COVID brings. It’s a very important part of the racing industry, with horses needing to be bought and sold at the sales, and it was great day out.