Months of misery for few moments of glory
TOM RIORDAN, an old friend of mine who used to train in America, moved back home recently. He rang me on Friday to say that he'd meet me at the races at Tipperary that evening to catch up.
I told him that I wouldn't be there, so instead I asked if he'd give Seamie Heffernan a leg up on Blackwitch Woman and collect the trophy afterwards. He was very amused with my confidence, but I knew everything was right for the mare on the night.
The ground, the draw and the trip were all in her favour and Seamie is a great man to ride a front-runner. The firm that he works for does a lot of early-season work around Tipperary, so he knows every blade of grass there.
I'm not a big punter, and Blackwitch Woman isn't one you could ever be too sure of, but I had a few quid on each-way at 10/1. She didn't let me down. Following Quench The Flame and Mount Helicon at Sligo, she was our third winner in three days.
I wasn't at Tipperary because my wife Josephine had insisted on us taking a few days' holiday. I hadn't been on a holiday since I don't know when and I didn't know where she was taking me, but we ended up in Knockranney House Hotel in Westport.
It's an excellent hotel and there's plenty to do in Westport, although I just took it easy for the weekend.
I read a couple of books, watched some racing and on Monday morning I headed off to Ballinrobe to walk the track.
I had Regal Obligation in there that evening, so I just wanted to make sure the ground was suitable, but I needn't have worried.
From its restaurant facilities to its track maintenance, Ballinrobe is one of the showpiece racecourses in Ireland.
Thankfully, Regal Obligation continued our good run by obliging for Wayne Lordan.
The horses are in great nick at the moment and we'll enjoy it while it lasts, because that seems to be the nature of the game -- months of misery for moments of glory!
Speaking of misery, on Tuesday I had a visit from the walking wounded. Kate O'Brien, my apprentice who broke her arm at Sligo, called in to pick up some stuff.
We'll miss her and her 10lb claim while she's out, but she's a tough bit of stuff and was in great spirits. Kate rode over 140 flapping winners, so she's battle-hardened and I doubt she'll be sidelined for too long.
That evening I was talking to my cousin Robert Gill, who owns The Pepper Mill restaurant in Nenagh.
He'd been into the bookies in town to collect a few bob that he'd won on Regal Obligation and Sandy O'Mara, one of the regulars inside, quipped to him that the recession in Nenagh was temporarily lifted thanks to Tom Hogan's purple patch. Only too pleased to do my bit, Sandy!
Wednesday was routine enough. All the horses here get turned out after exercise, so we took the opportunity to move them into fresh paddocks and I was watering the gallop until 11.30 that night.
We have a sand, rubber and fibre all-weather that gets deep after a dry spell, but it's nothing a tractor and a tank of water can't put right.
Thursday was pretty similar, though we did work a few in the morning. I was especially pleased with the way Spinning Wings went.
She's entered in the Kingdom Gold Cup at Killarney on Wednesday, but I'll probably wait for a Listed handicap at Chester on August 21. There are no Listed handicaps in Ireland and I'm keen to get her a bit of black type, so it may be worth travelling.
Having been so busy and with Killarney next week, I'll only have one runner, To The Left, at Tramore over the weekend. She likes fast ground and, if she doesn't collect on Sunday, I'd be hopeful that she will soon enough.
We'll try and keep the winners flowing as long as we can. It's great to have had such a lucrative spell, but I've no interest in looking at the winner I had yesterday -- the next one is the only one I've any interest in.
For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie