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PAT HEALY BLOG: In this week’s blog Pat argues that the two female sporting stars of the year should be celebrated and not compared, top marks to Killarney and Bellewstown plus fingers crossed that it will be a full house for Listowel’s Festival meeting next month.

Rachael Blackmore v Kellie Harrington

Rachael Blackmore is in our thoughts at the moment, and I hope she’s doing okay and recovering well from her injury.

It’s worth reflecting on her spectacular achievements last season and to win the Grand National was the pinnacle. How long will it be before we see a female riding the winner of the National again?

Before Kellie Harrington won the gold medal in the Olympic boxing you would have assumed Rachael would be long odds-on to be crowned leading Irish sports person for the year.

Obviously, Kellie Harrington’s gold is a massive achievement, and it’s up there with winning the National.

I was just thinking how great it would be if they could share the award and not pick one over the other.

In my eyes it seems a shame to separate them, and we should celebrate both as achievements by great sportswomen in their own right.

No need to fear the rain

Two more festivals are finished for another year.

Both Killarney and Bellewstown August Festivals went very well. The weather was kind, and 500 racegoers lent a bit of atmosphere to the racecourses. As ever, the condition of both courses was immaculate, and a credit to their track management committees.

Both courses have meetings again in October, which demonstrates the quality of their standards drainage.

Now it’s become standard across all smaller tracks in the country, they’re blessed with great track foreman and track managers. With the drainage capabilities now, racetracks can race during months they never thought of racing in the past.

If you had had mentioned 20 years ago that the likes of Killarney and Bellewstown would be racing in October, you would have been laughed at!

Listowel Harvest Festival

Looking ahead to September, the next big meeting is the Harvest Festival is at Listowel.

As of today, we’re still just planning for 500 spectators, under the current protocols. We’re hoping that will change, but we know that Brian Kavanagh and Horse Racing Ireland are working hard in government circles to get more people on site.

I can’t stress how important it is for us to have the racecourse buildings open, so we can spread our patrons around the enclosures better. Also, if the weather isn’t too good, they’ll be comfortable sheltering inside rather than in a marquee.

Other than that, things are coming together like a jigsaw thanks to the hard work of our enclosure and track managers. We’re certainly looking forward to September 19.