Friday 19 January 2018

Aidan O'Brien's horses are clearly good listeners!

Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Getty Images
Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Getty Images

Hector OhEochagain

I got some kick out of seeing Baily Green bolt up at Roscommon last Monday. Mouse Morris is a legend of a trainer, and there is nothing I like more than seeing a chaser emerge in the style that Baily Green has, a jumper that displays his easy fluency and economy over an obstacle. Such neat and tidy fencing is an art in itself.

Baily Green has been my horse of the year so far, along with Missunited. What a gutsy mare Mick Winters' horse is.

Everyone can get caught up in the Camelots of the world but, when Missunited is switching back and forth between Flat and jumps, winning five times, that's what makes the game special.

Put it this way, if I was naming an All Star team of horses, Missunited would be the first name on the team sheet, straight in at centre-forward.

More importantly, the Manchester United fan in me feels like we could do with someone as robust as her in defence right now, we are leaking goals that badly.

On Tuesday, I actually found myself discussing the merits or otherwise of Patrice Evra with my eight-year-old son after United went a goal down to CFR Cluj.

He has about 298 points in the Fantasy Football already this year, and I have 146, so he obviously knows more about it than me. There are 7,500 people in my 2FM 'Breakfast with Hector KHL' league, and he is 940th -- I'm wallowing in 3,500th.

I do the show here in Galway, and I love hearing from racing lads, be it Davy Russell or a groom at Henry Cecil's, saying they enjoy the positive vibe. Hey, Aidan O'Brien even puts on our radio programme for the horses in Ballydoyle to listen to, so we must be doing something right.

I've been mad on the game ever since Adrian Maguire, who came from just over the road from my Navan home in Kilmessan, won the 1992 Cheltenham Gold Cup. My dad always used to do his Lucky 15s, so racing has been a big part of me for years.

Then we made a series called 'Only Fools Buy Horses' that was sold to 20 countries, and the rest is history. Sadly, three weeks after Traverse won during filming at Ballinrobe in 2003, Sean Cleary, his jockey, died after receiving a kick to the head.

That was a tough period for racing, with Kieran Kelly, who I also knew, and Timmy Houlihan also lost. We all admire how tough these jockeys are, the way they get back up after a pummelling but, in another way, they are so humanly fragile too.

At the grassroots level, especially, there is incredible work being done, and that is why I have been bitten by the ownership bug again. Mike Smiddy and Paul Cashman are two great friends of mine in Cork who are steeped in the point-to-point game which is your only man for me.

I now have two lovely youngsters by Flemensfirth and Craigsteel that are being readied for action with Mike in Dungourney, and I am just buzzing about it all. I can't wait to head down with the family for a meal in the locality on a Saturday evening, before standing by a hedge in a muddy field somewhere to watch the horse on the Sunday. That's what this game comes down to -- skilled, hard-working rural people that have a natural affinity with horses.

Mick Winters is cut from that very cloth, so it will be great to see Rebel Fitz back in action at Tipperary on Sunday. There will be more pomp at Longchamp for the Arc, but I believe Camelot can clinch it for Ireland.

I'd say Joseph O'Brien had a couple of long days after the shock St Leger defeat at Doncaster, but it can't all be roses in the garden and he will come back stronger.

Camelot might too, and it would be some training feat to still have the horse firing in an Arc in October, after winning a 2,000 Guineas in May. If anyone can pull it off, Aidan is the man to do it.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out

Irish Independent

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