Festival, frustrations and a new flat track


Edward Brady

THE manager of Galway Racecourse, Michael Moloney, said he was far from disappointed by the crowd sizes at this summer’s festival, despite an attendance drop of 9.6 per cent compared to the pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Boylesports had made it a 1/33 chance that the Galway Festival would exceed its 2019 festival attendance, but Moloney said he never expected to beat that figure this year, even though pre-sales were said to have been ‘well ahead of the same point three years ago. We were not disappointed by the crowd sizes.’

Heavy rain on the Friday was a major factor in the day five crowds taking a hit of 6337 compared to 2019, while Monday’s drop of 5218 was partly attributed to the Galway football team having played in their first All-Ireland Final
since 2001 a day earlier, with homecoming events for the players taking place on Monday evening.

Irish trainers have voiced their frustration at being banned from running in Class Five and Six Handicaps/Classified Stakes on the flat and Class Five Handicaps over jumps since the pandemic, with the British Horseracing Association originally bringing in the ban as a Covid-19 related precaution.

Professional punter, Declan Meagher, has criticised the BHA’s methodology for determining that Irish representatives have a substantial advantage, describing the approach as ‘disingenuous.’

“From the start of 2018 until the Covid-19 shutdown, horses having their last start in Ireland had a win impact value of just 1.17 in the UK Class Five, Six and Seven Handicaps and a place impact value of only 1.07,” Meagher explained. “Horses [in Britain] who were placed in the first four on their last start, which would indicate an in-form horses, have a win impact value of 1.47 and a place impact value of 1.33.”

If the Irish horses are stopped from racing in the UK, some of the small tracks such as Cartmel, Perth and Carlisle and many more are going to have small fields with three or four runners in each race. Those racecourses won’t like that at all.

I think the BHA has to allow the Irish horses to be able to race here. One instance was where Gordon Elliott sent horses over to Perth and Musselburgh and did very well, having five or six runners at each meeting. We shall see what happens.

The €5 million development at Punchestown of a flat track is well under way. The first phase should be
completed in October according to Punchestown Racecourse CEO, Conor O’Neill and if everything stays on schedule, the new track is due to be in place in 2025.

I see that Stradivarius could be heading to the Irish St Leger to take on Kyprios after finishing behind him in the Gold Cup, but he got closer to Kyprios in the Goodwood Cup in July. I’m sure that Kyrpios will still emerge triumphant.

A trainer to follow this autumn is Andrew Balding, because he has had many winners in September, October and November in years previous and if you had put £1 on each of his horses last year, you would have received a profit of £140.88!