Inside Track – Darren Bunyan – July 22nd

Hope you’ve all had a good week.

Review of Last Weekend at The Curragh

Great racing again at the Curragh last weekend and I was delighted to see Seamie Heffernan get another classic in the bag when winning The Oaks on Seventh Heaven (14/1). An appropriately named winner given that it was Seamie’s 7th Irish classic win! His overall record of big race wins is fantastic particularly given that he gets 2nd choice of the mounts in these races. He’s riding as well as ever and I’m sure he’ll add many more big wins before he’s finished.

Mecca’s Angel, our selection in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes, bounced right back to form with a most impressive win on the day having previously flopped at Royal Ascot. She was much too good for her Curragh rivals and she looks worth staying on the right side of in big sprints for the rest of the season once the ground isn’t firm.

You’d have to feel we didn’t see the best of Psychedelic Funk in finishing 2nd in the Anglesey Stakes. He’s one of many horses who figured prominently at Royal Ascot but didn’t run up to their best on their next outing. Whatever the reason, it will be interesting to see how he fares during the rest of the season.

Curragh Redevelopment

Certainly interesting times ahead for the Curragh Racecourse as it prepares for a major redevelopment project (approx €65 million) which is expected to commence towards the end of this year. Paul Hensey and his staff have been doing an excellent job making the best of the dated facilities they have had to work with for some time now. The new plans are extensive in their scope and include a new main stand, parade ring, weigh-room, museum and an upgrade of the stabling facilities. Races are scheduled to continue during the construction period, which will be a feat in itself. As the home of Irish racing, it’s very important that this long overdue development ensures the Curragh will compare more favourably with the level of facilities we find at the other major racecourses around the world.

Given that I’m a trainer on the Curragh I’m also particularly pleased to hear that the plans will include significant development to maintain the Curragh Training Grounds as one of the best places in the world to train racehorses.

 Exterior Curragh Stand
Exterior of the new stand

 Interior Curragh Stand
Interior of the new stand

This Week at Our Yard

We’ve had another busy week and on a daily basis I can see the benefits of the patient approach we took in giving our horses the time they needed to come right during recent months. They are all looking fantastic now and moving forward very positively. We always very much appreciate the comments and messages of support we receive via our website. Many have commented that it must be difficult to hold back and give the horses time off during the season. That’s certainly true, but in reality I feel there is no choice since we won’t get the best out of them if we rush them when they are not ready. Hopefully, the coming months will be pay back time!

We’ve also decided to trial a new lighting system (Equilux Performance Lighting) in some of our stables. I’ve had very positive reports from people who have used it with racehorses. The basic idea is to provide enough intensity of light and the correct wavelength of light to compare with outdoors and also to provide the correct duration of consistent light. The system uses our GPS location to adjust the levels of light in the stables and effectively delays the onset of autumn’s shorter days, reduces the impact of winter and brings forward the positive effects of spring. One of the benefits of this adjustment to the light in the stables is to help stimulate growth and muscle by altering the horses hormones. Other benefits include reduced fungal and bacteria levels in the stables. We’ll monitor the effect on those horses taking part in the trial and extend its use if all goes well.

The new lighting system adjusts the light in the stables throughout the day and night

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes

On the racing front the feature race this weekend is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday (4.30pm). The defection of Postponed has deprived the race of its star attraction and it must be said that it doesn’t look as strong a renewal as many in the past. On all known form it looks like the winner should come from a group comprising Dartmouth, Highland Reel, Erupt and Wings of Desire. Erupt had decent form at times last year but suggestions from connections that he is better suited by soft ground would tend to put me off him on this occasion, particularly if the ground remains on the firm side as it is at present. Dartmouth is certainly progressive, having gone up an amazing 31 pounds on official ratings since early July last year. Only a head separated him and Highland Reel when they finished 1st and 2nd respectively in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last time. The runner up Highland Reel could have been considered a little unlucky that day and there shouldn’t be much between them again.

Dante winner Wings of Desire is the only 3yo in the line-up, and that age group has accounted for only 2 of the last 10 winners. However, in a year where the race doesn’t seem to have an outstanding older horse in the line-up that statistic may not be so relevant. Wings of Desire ran a decent race to finish 4th in the Epsom Derby on his last run, a race which is working out well. As a relatively unexposed horse having just his 5th career start tomorrow there could be more to come. In an undoubtedly tricky contest it might be worth taking a chance at the generally available 7/2 that he has more scope to continue improving than his rivals here.

You can keep up to date on our website:

Best of Luck!

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