Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Feeding calves and planting spuds keeps me in right frame for Guineas

J Murtagh

I left home at 5.45 last Saturday morning to be in Ballydoyle to start work at 7.0.

Saturdays are busy work mornings down there, especially for two-year-olds, and I put eight or nine different youngsters through their paces. We have a really nice bunch of two-year-olds this year, so it's nice to be able to sit on them before they run.

I hadn't much else on for the day after that. We finished in Ballydoyle at about 11.30, and from there I drove to Dungarvan to pick up my son Charles from Colaiste na Rinn, where he is a boarder.

Before going to Navan on Sunday, I went for a three-and-a-half-mile run and then headed for a sauna. Because of the Punchestown Festival, there was no Flat racing last week, and quiet weeks make keeping my weight down a real challenge.

That is frustrating. The Flat season is underway, but we might still only race once a week. With the Guineas meeting in England this weekend, things will start to pick up a bit now, and I'll be a happy man to be busier.

Anyway, Navan went well. I won on Airspace for Mick Halford and Rain Forest for Aidan O'Brien. Rain Forest is a brother to Fame And Glory. He was a bit green, but he did it well and is sure to improve.

As much as I try to get a feel for the two-year-olds on those work mornings in Ballydoyle, they often surprise you. Sunday's juvenile was a case in point, when my mount, Catherineofaragon, came up short behind So Stylish, another Ballydoyle filly.

All of Aidan's horses are prepared to win, but some learn quicker than others on the track. That's just the way it goes.

The following day was an easy one. I put the kids' ponies out in the field and fed our two calves -- farming stock is a new venture for us. We got the calves for the kids for a hobby, though I seem to be the only one feeding them all the time. I planted a couple of rows of potatoes as well. That's another new undertaking.

I'd rather try and get out and do something instead of sitting in the house all day when I'm not racing, and I thought it would be good to show the kids how we used to do things when we were young. So now we have two drills of spuds -- which I probably won't even get to eat.

That night I had a meeting in my boxing club, St Brigid's in Kildare. The club is up and running a year and it was the end-of-season meeting. We've had a great first year.

Andrea Moorehouse won the U-11 All-Ireland title, and we have three Leinster champions and 10 Kildare champions. The place is going strong. On Sunday we're holding a tournament to finish off the season, before breaking up until September.

Tuesday was a special day as I was granted honorary lifetime membership of Headfort Golf Club in Meath. The course is just four miles from where I live. I played a round on the new course with the captain Tom Briody, the president Jim O'Brien and Bob O'Callaghan, and then sat down for the function.

It was a lovely gesture and a wonderful evening. I play off 15, although I much prefer playing in shorts to waterproofs -- the game is hard enough when it's dry!

Thankfully, we're back racing at Cork this evening, where I ride Walk On Bye and High Award, both of which have solid chances, for Tommy Stack.

I ride Awe Inspiring then for Aidan. She finished second first time up and will be better for that, so I think I have three good rides to set me up for Newmarket over the weekend.

I'm really looking forward to St Nicholas Abbey in the 2,000 Guineas tomorrow. He proved how good a horse he was when he won his Group One last year, and I think everybody knows the way I feel about him by now. He's just a bit special.

In the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday, Devoted To You is a big price, but she'll run well, as she will gallop right to the end. Aidan's horses have been in great form, but this is the weekend that they usually tend to hit top gear. Hopefully things will fall into place.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out

Irish Independent

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