Plenty to get through this week. You can read my thoughts on the three R’s: Ruby Walsh, Retirements & Racing TV. There’s also a brief look back at the first English classics, a Chester May Festival jockey stat that could surprise, well it surprised me.
You can find all this and my Monday tip inside…
Ruby Calls Time
After his win on Kemboy, in the Punchestown Gold Cup, Ruby Walsh decided it was the right time to retire from the saddle.
He ends his riding career as one of jump racing's all-time great jockeys. His record at the Cheltenham festival was fantastic and he rode many of the best NH horses seen in recent years.
Here are just a few of the great horses he was synonymous with during his career most of them from his association with leading trainers Willie Mullins & Paul Nicholls:
The Golden Dozen
Un De Sceaux;
Big Race Wins
It's fair to say that Ruby won all the biggest jumps races during his career:
Grand National Wins on Papillon & Hedgehunter;
Two Gold Cup wins on Kauto Star;
Four Champion Hurdles wins, two with Hurricane Fly and one each with Faugheen & Annie Power;
Four Stayers Hurdle wins on Big Bucks;
Two Champion Chase wins on Master Minded;
Two Ryanair Chase wins on Un De Sceaux & Vautour.
Ruby never won a Gold Cup on the mighty Denman, that honour went to Sam Thomas, but he did ride the horse to seven of his fourteen wins, including a spectacular success to demolish his rivals in the RSA Novices’ Chase and for me arguably Denman’s best performance when carrying 11-12 to victory in the 2009 Hennessey Gold Cup.
He was extremely unlucky injury-wise in recent seasons but at least he retires on his own terms and at the very top of his profession.
Probably the best horseman since John Francome, I can't argue with that. and I doubt, we’ll see a jumps jockey like him for many years.
Staying on the retirement theme, it’s this time of the year when we see the retirement of a few National Hunt equine heroes. In the last month we seem to have seen even more than usual. Here are just a few that left the racing game in recent weeks:
Pete The Feat;
Un Temps Pour Tout;
It’s great to see them all retire in one piece and I wish them long and happy retirements.
At the start of the year, I mused in this column about how successful Racing TV would be in covering so much extra racing with addition of Irish Racing to it's coverage.
The Punchestown Festival didn't go very well for the broadcaster. First, we had Paddy Brennan describing the channels Punchestown Coverage as ‘shocking' on Twitter and it got worse. At one point on Saturday afternoon, Racing TV had triple split screen covering the late running 3:05 at Thirsk, the 3:15 at Goodwood and the 3:10 at Punchestown all at the same time.
I wonder if the Irish Racing authorities are regretting their decision to switch channels. As Ireland's premier jumps racing festival was forced to share coverage with a fairly, low-key Goodwood card.
There’s just too much racing to be covered successfully by Racing TV without either a second channel or use of the Red Button.
What price a quad split screen on Racing TV sometime this summer?
Aidan’s In A Guineas Wonderland
The first two of the English Classics are now done and dusted for another year. The Qipco 2,000 Guineas was won by Magna Grecia, trained by Aidan O'Brien.
As I mentioned in last weeks column, Aidan’s last five winners shared the following traits:
Days Since Last Run: 180 to 300 days
Highest Class Run: Group 1
Highest Class Win: Group 1 or Group 2
5 winners from 10 runners 50% +16.38
Last week I felt that the 7/2 available about Magna Grecia was solid enough and that he could drift should Ryan Moore opt to ride stablemate Ten Sovereigns. Ryan did go for the Ten Sovereigns and Magna Grecia was sent off at 11/2.
Granted, he benefited from the stands side pace bias, but he was the deserved winner on the day.
Hermosa Makes All For 1,000 Guineas Triumph
The first fillies Classic of the season looked an open looking race on paper and so it proved. As Hermosa made all to give trainer Aidan O’Brien a 1,000/2,000 Guineas Double and also a Guineas Double for me and my subscribers.
Hermosa's jockey Wayne Lordan had his filly out in front from the start and seemed to set a strong pace. She was clearly ridden for stamina and had most of the field on the stretch early in the race.
Coming to two out, Lady Kaya who had travelled powerfully throughout, looked to becoming with a big challenge down the middle. Her effort just seemed to flatten out inside the final furlong, but she still managed to hold on for second. It was a great effort from the Shelia Lavery trained filly who raced alone down the middle away from where the main action was unfolding.
The winning jockey got the fractions right and even when his mount looked like she would be swamped coming to the final two furlongs, she kept finding for pressure to hold off her rivals. You certainly can’t fault the filly's courage.
Don’t Give Up On Iridessa
The favourite Qabala couldn’t go with the strong early pace but stayed on well enough to grab third. She probably lacked the experience of the two fillies who finished ahead of her.
Fairyland, stablemate of the winner ran well from her wide draw out in stall one, but her stamina seemed to run out a furlong from home and she eventually finished 5th.
Ryan Moore, who opted for Just Wonderful was another of the runners who couldn’t go with the strong early gallop. She made some headway two furlongs out but once she came under pressure, she seemed to wander a bit and her head carriage didn’t look great. However, once she met the rising ground, she ran much better to finish 6th.
The well fancied Iridessa looked well in the paddock and was always in a handy position, she didn’t get the clearest of passages inside the final furlong but stayed on into finish 8th. The Epsom Oaks will now be on the filly's agenda. A race for which she will be a strong contender on the back of this run.
The merit of the form will become apparent as the season progresses but given the first eight home were separated by less than 3 lengths might provide a clue.
Chester's May Festival
On Wednesday it's the start of Chester's three day May Festival and there should be plenty of Epsom Classic clues on offer. In recent years, the likes of Ruler of The World, ran at the meeting and then went on to win that season's Epsom Derby. In 2017 both Epsom Classics went to horses who ran at Chester’s May Meeting with Enable winning the Oaks and Wings Of Eagles causing a major shock to win the Derby. Last year Forever Together went onto win the Oaks after racing at this meeting.
This years Chester Festival will be on Sky Sports Racing. Let’s hope Sky show Racing TV how it’s done and give this great festival the coverage it deserves.
I can’t discuss a Festival like this without digging out a stat for you.
Chester’s Twists & Turns: Spencer’s Your Man
Jamie Spencer, is famous or some might say infamous for his patient hold -up rides but his record at Chester’s May Festival is rather good.
In the past ten-years he’s the top jockey in handicap races at the meeting with10 winners from 59 rides 17% +22.5 A/E 1.36 22 placed 37%.
Those figures improve when you focus on his handicap rides drawn in stall 1 to 6 – 9 winners from 30 rides – 30% +45.5 A/E 2 13 placed 43%
Last weeks tip Allegiant finished second at Windsor good if you were on each way. This week’s selections come from today's meeting at the Curragh.
5:50 – I like runners drawn high in big field handicaps at the course. In stall 21 we have Faster, formerly trained by Brian Meehan. The 5-year-old ran a promising race to finish 8th of 20 on his stable debut in the Irish Lincolnshire handicap before putting in an even better performance when 4th of 12 at Cork, 29-days ago. He appeals as a lively each-way contender.
In stall 22 I like the chances of Laughifiwant. The lightly raced, 4-year-old ended last season with a win in a soft ground Galway maiden and made a highly encouraging seasonal return when runner-up at Leopardstown on his handicap debut. The handicapper has put him up 3lb for that effort but he’s improving with racing.
Laughifyouwant – 9/1 @ William Hill
Faster – 14/1 – @ William Hill – each way (paying 5 places 1/5 odds)
Until next time.