PAT HEALY: This week Pat looks back on a brilliant weekend for two of Irish racing’s biggest names before sharing his excitement ahead of the Winter Festival at Fairyhouse.
The Rachael and Henry show
It was a big weekend for Rachael [Blackmore] and Henry [de Bromhead] with one of the up-and-coming stars of National Hunt racing debuting over fences in the shape of Bob Olinger and another exciting prospect in the form of A Plus Tard returning to action. They both looked in exceptional nick and Henry is an enviable position, some comparisons could be made to Paul Nicholls back in the day when he had two of the greats in Denman and Kauto Star. Who knows what the picture will look like in the spring but Henry could be heading to Cheltenham with the defending Gold Cup champion in Minella Indo and his closest pursuer in A Plus Tard. There will be plenty of options to keep them separate before Cheltenham, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens in March.
Irish Jumps racing is in a fantastic place right now, every weekend is full of excitement, and the upcoming one is no different with Fairyhouse playing host to three Grade 1’s including the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle. Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle will make her reappearance, and if you remember last year, she gave Henry and Rachael a fright but apparently she wasn’t as forward as he would have liked so she’ll probably strip a bit fitter this year. We can all look forward to hopefully another magnificent performance from the great mare.
It will be a huge day for our good friend and BETDAQ ambassador Gavin Cromwell with Gabynako running in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase and My Mate Mozzie in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle. We wish Gavin all the best and hopefully his two charges will do him proud.
It was a fantastic day last Sunday at Navan and the buzz was well and truly back in Irish racing. There was a great crowd out and a fantastic atmosphere, it was great to see stalls selling cushions, scarfs and ornaments – whatever you’d like! Navan really went all out to mark their 100-year anniversary and there was top class entertainment on and off the track. Gordon Elliott won his fifth Troytown Chase with Run Wild Fred, and he really couldn’t have done it any easier, along with a double on the day for Gordon and Davy [Russell]. I was also delighted to see Navan chairman Noel Meade, train the winner of the Bumper on such a landmark day, which must have been hugely satisfying.