Trials and tribulations and a tribute to top jockey


Edward Brady

IT WAS disappointing that Aiden O’Brien and Joseph O’Brien (above) had to pull their horses out of the biggest race of the year—the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe—due to contamination of the feed ingredient molasses, which was, in fact, responsible for the withdrawal of several big name horses over the Arc weekend.

The feed manufacturer sourced the ingredient from ED&F Man Liquid Products Ireland, who, on the Saturday night, issued an urgent recall notice after discovering that it was tainted with the banned substance zilpaterol. Gain, which counts Aidan, Donnacha and Joseph O’Brien among its clients, has cut ties with the manufacturer in the fallout and the company has now resumed production of equine food.

Donnacha O’Brien’s dual Group 1 winner, Fancy Blue, had to be retired due to an injury during routine work, It was a sad day for the stable, but she’s safe and will move on to her next career at stud and have a happy retirement.

St Mark’s Basilica was one of the horses who had been due to run in France. He was denied that chance, but went to Newmarket for the Darley Dewhurst Stakes, which he won beating Thundermoon and Wembley having finished behind them in the National Stakes at the Curragh.

Willie Mullins’ Great White Shark landed a great big gamble to record a third successive victory in the Cesarewitch Handicap, which carried a prize of £124, 500. The horse was backed from 7/1 to 9/2 favourite in a field that had 34 runners. To win it three years in a row is a brilliant achievement for Mullins in a race that has been very competitive every year.

Tribute to top jockey
It’s nice to see that Dundalk Racecourse has put on a race in honour of nine-time Irish Champion Flat Jockey, Pat Smullen. The race will be the Group 3 Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Pat Smullen Mercury Stakes and will carry a purse of €50,000.

“We are delighted that Al Basti Equiworld Dubai has chosen to honour Pat with a race at Dundalk Stadium, where he rode his first winner, Vicosa, for trainer Tom Lacy in June 1993 and his last aboard Anthony McCann’s Togoville in 2018, Dundalk Racecourse manager, Jim Martin, said.

It’s a fitting race to honour a top jockey, but also a great man.

Trainer’s trials and tribulations
Trainer Gordon Elliott has had some bad luck recently as two of his top jockeys picked up injuries at the last Limerick meeting. Davy Russell sustained a neck injury and fractured his C6 vertebrae, while Jack Kennedy fractured his left collarbone. Unfortunately, they will be out for a good while. Russell, who came down in the Munster National is expected to be out for two months. Hopefully Kennedy will be back sooner and be able to ride Delta Work in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal at the end of this month. So with that big Down Royal meeting on the horizon, there could be a chance for Keith Donoghue to get some nice big rides for the stable.

It was a blow for Elliott who narrowly lost out on the last day, when it looked like he was going to be crowned the Irish Champion Trainer at Punchestown. He has lots of good horses like Envoi Allen and Abracadabras. The former could be a Gold Cup horse and the latter could be a Champion Hurdle horse. Abracadabras could go to the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal later this month.

Others to look out for from his stable include: Quilixios, Sire Du Berlais, Easywork, Zanahiyr and last but not least, Tiger Roll!