Hope you’ve all had a good week.
Feast of Racing at Galway and Goodwood
What a feast of racing we’ve had so far this week at Galway and Goodwood.
My favourite race at Glorious Goodwood is the Sussex Stakes. It has always been one of the most compelling clashes of the generations over 1 mile each year. It’s also a great example of one of my own rules of thumb of favouring top class 3yo’s against the older horses. Seven of the last ten renewals have been won by 3yo’s including the fantastic Frankel who incidentally also went on to win it the following year as a 4yo. I was delighted to see one of our horses to follow (The Gurkha) winning it this year. I’m still very much of the view that The Gurkha and Harzand are the two best 3yo’s we’ve seen this year and I’d be sticking with them to the end of the season.
The 7 day test of endurance for punters at Galway has something for everyone. While it might not be everyone’s favourite race of the week, I always find the 2yo maiden on the opening night to be a fascinating race. Dermot Weld won it for an incredible 24th time on Monday with the gelding Right Honourable. It looked another strong renewal of the race and I think he’s a horse with a future. His sire Famous Name, who is having his first runners this season, won 21 races for Dermot Weld and if Right Honourable can follow in those illustrious footsteps he’ll provide plenty of good days for his supporters in the years ahead.
The Galway Festival has often been seen as an opportune time to launch initiatives of one type or another given the high level of focus on the western venue at this time. It was no exception this week and we had 2 major announcements which I feel are highly commendable and deserving of support.
HRI Industry Assistance Programme
The first of those was the Industry Assistance Programme launched on Tuesday by HRI. Despite the glamour, excitement and amazing appeal of the sport there are so many people in the industry who find themselves in incredibly difficult circumstances without any real support. The central aim of the Programme is to improve the well being of the approximately 14,500 people working in the Thoroughbred industry, including stud staff, stable staff, breeders, trainers, jockeys, racecourse staff and employees from industry bodies. It will provide round-the-clock support through a range of confidential services including a 24/7 telephone support line and an online resource centre with a live help option for many practical issues such as legal and financial advice, health advice, grief counselling, parenting advice, promotion of mindfulness techniques, healthy eating advice and crisis management. It remains to be seen how it will work out in practice but it has the potential to make a very positive difference to so many lives and I hope it becomes a resounding success.
Jockey Career Ending Insurance To Be Sponsored by Stobart Group
The second initiative was the announcement on Wednesday that Stobart Group have entered a 3 year deal to provide free career-ending insurance for all members of the Irish Jockey’s Association (IJA). The insurance policy was introduced in 2015 and funded by the jockeys themselves. Not surprisingly given the risks involved the costs associated with this type of insurance were prohibitively high for many. The insurance costs will now be covered by Stobart Group for the next 3 years thus making this important insurance cover available to all Irish jockeys. Should any of the jockeys suffer a career-ending injury they will be fully insured, giving themselves and their families greater financial security in those unfortunate circumstances. As part of the deal the jockeys will wear the Stobart Group logo on their breeches. Hopefully, we won’t see any jockey’s needing to avail of the plan’s benefits but it’s a very positive step to know they have that additional safety net in place where required.
J T McNamara
We had an all too vivid reminder this week of why insurance policies of this type are required. It was with great sadness we heard the news that J T McNamara had passed away a little more than 3 years after his life changing fall at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival. He was undoubtedly one of the finest jockeys and horsemen to grace the sport. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for himself and his family to cope with his paralysis since that day at Cheltenham. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, children and extended family. May he rest in peace.
Last weekend it was a little frustrating to see how Highland Reel was allowed to dominate in the King George in the way that clearly plays to his strengths. Our selection Wings of Desire ran a very creditable race in finishing 2nd but you were left wondering what might have happened if they had taken on the winner earlier.
This weekend it’s going to be tough finding winners since the level of competition at Galway is such that most horses turning up there tend to have a chance. The feature race on Sunday (The Irish Breeders Fund EBF “Ahonoora” Handicap 3.20) has an especially competitive look to it. One runner I find interesting is Baraweez. Galway is well known as a place where the “horses for courses” mantra applies and Baraweez fits the bill in that respect. In 2014 he finished 3rd in the mile feature race on the Tuesday night before winning the Ahonoora Handicap on the Sunday. In 2015 he finished 2nd in the mile feature race on the Tuesday night before again winning the Ahonoora Handicap on the Sunday. This year he had a terrible draw in stall 16 in the mile feature race on Tuesday night and ran a blinder to finish a close up 5th. He’s only marginally better off in terms of draw for Sunday (drawn 14). However, the 7 furlongs of the Ahonoora Handicap seems to suit him better than the mile and the likely better ground will also be a positive. Early shows indicate him at 10/1 and he could be even bigger than that on the day. At those odds I think he represents a sporting each way bet to at least make the frame.
You can keep up to date via our website www.darrenbunyanracing.com
Have a great weekend. Best of Luck!