Sport Horse Racing

Monday 11 December 2017

Minding shakes off 2,000 Guineas blues

Moore-ridden filly leads home sensational Classic 1-2-3 for Ballydoyle genius

Minding and Ryan Moore lead home an Aidan O’Brien 1-2-3 in the 1,000 Guineas. Photo: Nigel French/PA
Minding and Ryan Moore lead home an Aidan O’Brien 1-2-3 in the 1,000 Guineas. Photo: Nigel French/PA

The solution to yesterday's Qipco 1,000 Guineas could be found in last year's Moyglare Stud Stakes result.

At the Curragh in September, Minding beat Ballydoyle and Alice Springs to secure Aidan O'Brien his 12th clean sweep in a Group One.

At Newmarket, the same trio duplicated that to make it 13, the first time O'Brien achieved the feat in an English Classic.

After Air Force Blue bombed in Saturday's 2,000 Guineas, it constituted a fine reversal in fortunes for the esteemed Co Tipperary outfit.

Ryan Moore always looked in control on the 11/10 favourite, which is the best price that can now be had about her completing a Classic double in the Oaks.

"It was a marvellous result," admitted O'Brien, who indicated that Epsom would be on the emphatic winner's agenda. "We are delighted; we thought they were three very high-class fillies and that's the way it worked out."

The win was O'Brien's 250th top-level success; three of those came via Galileo - his 2001 Derby hero that sired the first three home yesterday - and two more via Lillie Langtry, Minding's dam. He is creating some legacy.

Punchestown do it better than the rest

A record 114,438 crowd attended what was a hugely enjoyable Punchestown Festival finale.

Given the unseasonally bitter weather that prevailed for much of the week, that is quite a feat.

It is no less than the track's hard-working team deserve. Every year, we depart with an enhanced sense of appreciation of how well they do their job.

The tone is set by Dick O'Sullivan and deputies Shona Dreaper and Richie Galway, three inherently capable, efficient and approachable individuals.

There will always be room for improvement - visiting trainer Kim Bailey, whilst at pains to stress how much he enjoyed his visit, rued on his popular blog that owners were "crammed into two small hospitality boxes converted into one" - but Punchestown do a lot right.

Inevitably, equine stars like Don Cossack, Thistlecrack, Annie Power and Sprinter Sacre were missed. There was still plenty of highlights, though, with breakthrough Grade Ones for Zabana's trainer Andy Lynch and Blow By Blow's rider Katie Walsh.

John Kiely and Gavin Cromwell deserve immense credit for their respective feats with Carlingford Lough and Jer's Girl, while Dermot McLoughlin, Robert Tyner and Denis Cullen also enhanced their reputations courtesy of the contrasting exploits of Shamiran, Couer De Lion and Shin A Vee.

Gavin Sheehan and newly-crowned champion conditional Jack Kennedy reasserted their statuses as rising stars, while six cross-channel winners will help to encourage British trainers back.

With six Grade Ones (12 wins in all) as opposed to 10 of the 12 in 2015, Willie Mullins left as much and enough for others, a founding staple of the utilitarian concept.

Ably abetted by Ruby Walsh and Paul Townend, he finished with 34 Grade One wins, topping his 2015 record of 30. He accrued Irish prize money of €4.1m, to go with £2.3m in Britain, plus international revenue.


Mullins can also take comfort in knowing that - unintentionally or otherwise - he provided one of the season's most enduring moments by saddling Annie Power to a famous triumph for the female of the species in the Champion Hurdle.

He also oversaw Douvan's superb campaign, which ended with him joining Istabraq, Sprinter Sacre and On The Fringe as a winner at the Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown Festivals in the same year.

On The Fringe, of course, did it for a second time under Nina Carberry on Friday. Enda Bolger's 11-year-old is surely the greatest hunter chaser of all time, and an absolute credit to his trainer.

BHA asks Turf Club to reciprocate Gilligan ban

We are living in what might benignly be termed as interesting times for the Turf Club.

On Saturday, hot on the heels of the latest farcical episode of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing - namely the Noble Emperor saga - a Turf Club appeals panel again overturned a significant non-trier sanction.

At Ballinrobe on April 15, Robbie Colgan was hit with a 21-day suspension, trainer David Broad was fined €2,000 and Definite Earl was banned from for 60 days after flashing home late to be second in a novices' hurdle.

On Saturday, all parties were exonerated in full. As we've pointed out here before, that tends to be how these things roll.

Either some race day stewards struggle hopelessly at interpreting their own rules, or headquarters are rigorously defending Irish racing's reputation as the cleanest racing jurisdiction the world over. Don't forget those stats: 27,000 runners here in 2015, just one non-trier. A beacon of integrity.

Another of the Turf Club's eccentric quirks is its tendency to simply forget about certain incidents, or hope they might just go away. Remember the consternation that the Ballinrobe stewards instigated by ordering the withdrawal of Like A Diamond in July 2013 on the basis that Sharon Dunphy, the horse's registered trainer, accepted a charge based on information supplied by the Turf Club's head of security Chris Gordon that the horse - which had been gambled from 50/1 into 3/1 that morning - wasn't trained in the yard that it was purported to be trained in?

That "complex investigation", as the Turf Club's chief executive Denis Egan described it as to the Irish Independent in 2014, is a can that is seemingly still being kicked down the road.


Then there was the episode at Galway in 2014, when Paul Gilligan's Dubawi Phantom was withdrawn by the order of the stewards, again on the back of a tip-off from Gordon.

He supplied photographic evidence of what was purported to be the same horse running in unregulated flapping races at Dingle the previous August.

It won there under Liam Gilligan, son of the Athenry-based trainer, who in 2013 received a one-year suspended Turf Club suspension for actions that were "prejudicial to the integrity and proper conduct of horseracing" in relation to a dispute during which he had transferred the ownership of a horse called Wellforth into his father's name and withheld its winnings from the rightful owner over a month-long period in 2012.

Anyway, at Galway, the Dubawi Phantom issue was referred to the Turf Club for investigation. Two years later, we now know that Dubawi Phantom raced as Ayres Rock on the flapping circuit. Gilligan, who says he acquired the horse in November 2013, has had his licence suspended for six months by the authorities. He is appealing the ban.

You might think that the Turf Club had succeeded in pursuing a case, establishing the facts and implementing a sanction based on a rule breach.

The missing piece, though, is that it is the British Horseracing Authority that has condemned Gilligan following its enquiry on foot of Dubawi Phantom winning at Uttoxeter in June 2014. Sometimes awkward problems just don't go away.

The BHA has requested that the Turf Club reciprocate its ban, to which it has agreed. You wonder if it strikes our intrepid regulator as odd that its equivalent from a foreign jurisdiction is apparently doing its job for them?

Tweet of the weekend

Paddy Roche (@roche_paddy)

Such joke NH jockeys expected to ride tomorrow. What sort of a sport has a 363-day season? Change badly needed.

The former amateur rider isn't impressed that a jumps card takes place at Down Royal this afternoon.

Numbers Game

43,000 Euros raised in aid of the Robbie McNamara fund by a hugely successful January 30 Kube event at the Killashee Hotel in Naas.

Irish Independent

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