Monday 14 October 2019

Gigginstown announcement the talk of Punchestown as Farclas triumphs over fences again

Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile
Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

Michael O’Leary’s decision to withdraw from racehorse ownership was unsurprisingly the main topic of conversation at Punchestown this evening, where O’Leary’s famed Gigginstown House Stud operation had a winner.

Farclas, who won the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last year, is now two from two over fences since the turn of the season and afterwards Farclas’ trainer Gordon Elliott was typically philosophical about the situation which has arisen this week.

 “One door closes and another door opens,” Elliott said at Punchestown. “We are not finished yet and it’s onwards and upwards.”

While plenty had a view on the announcement, not all agree on the effect it will have for the sport of National Hunt racing.

Former champion jockey Ruby Walsh feels that the writing was on the wall and that the impact of Gigginstown’s winding down will be felt with immediate impact.

“It might take them four or five years to get out, but the ramifications will be felt as soon as this morning. I don’t think anyone will benefit from this situation. It’s a loss for Irish racing. There is no winner,” said Walsh in his Paddy Power blog.

The train of thought of some was that Gigginstown’s ambition to buy the top stock at the horses in training sales and even the unraced store sales had inflated prices in the market and that the pool of those able to buy horses will now grow again.

However, while that will assist some buyers in the market, if the sale prices drop then it will obviously have an impact on the breeder or pinhooker who is selling the horse.

Arguably the first real pointer as to how Irish racing will deal without Gigginstown writing any more cheques at the sales will be seen at the high-profile Goffs Land Rover Sale and the Tattersalls Derby Sale, both of which are next month.

Gigginstown were not the only buyers at these sales as the point-to-point handlers would stock up in big numbers with the hope that the likes of a Gigginstown would buy the horses when proven. How those handlers will shop as a result will be fascinating.

In the meantime, the likes of Farclas, who is still only a five-year-old, proves that if O’Leary is going to continue in the sport until all his current horses are finished racing, it could be a very long goodbye and that can’t be a bad thing.

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