Things We Learned » Draw no good

Draw no good

There had only been one draw in the All-Ireland Senior Football final since the turn of the millennium.  That was in 2016, when Cillian O’Connor brought Mayo level with Dublin in the deep recesses of injury time. 

A draw is always unlikely, you’re unlucky/lucky if you happen upon one, but it is always possible, and it was always probable that, in the event of one last Sunday, the replay would be dropped into the middle of Irish Champions Weekend.

For Dublin and Kerry, and for fans of top class sport, it sets up an appetite-whetting re-match after what was an enthralling encounter.  For the administrators of Irish racing, only headaches.

The decision to move racing back to an earlier slot was the correct decision.  The clash with Doncaster is not ideal on several levels, but you can’t go up against a Dublin/Kerry All-Ireland Final replay.  You can’t go competing voluntarily and directly against Goliath.

The first race at Leopardstown on Saturday, the Listed Ballylinch Stud EBF Ingabelle Stakes, will now be at 1.55pm, with the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes off at 4.15pm and the Coolmore ‘Fastnet Rock’ Matron Stakes at 5.25pm.  That will also have the effect of allowing the Green Channel in Japan show the Irish Champion Stakes – in which Deirdre, not Magical or Madhmoon, will be the main focus of attention over there – at a quarter past midnight as opposed to twenty-five to three in the morning.  That would have been into Melbourne Cup territory: too late for most to stay up and too early for many to get up.  A change in that regard was reportedly in the pipeline anyway.

It is far from perfect, the replay will undoubtedly command the Irish airwaves in the run-up to the weekend, and interest in/awareness of/attendance at Leopardstown on the day will undoubtedly be affected.  But, re-arranged race times, big screens, top class racing, hopefully the negative impact can be minimised.

Serious racing 

It will be serious racing too. 

Magical and Madhmoon and Headman and Deirdre.  Laurens and Hermosa.  Pinatubo and Siskin and Armory. 

Paul Carberry and Ted Durcan and Kieren Fallon and Richard Hughes and AP McCoy and Johnny Murtagh and Joseph O’Brien and Charlie Swan and Ruby Walsh.  All set to line up in the Pat Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland.  That could be the best race of them all.

Cromwell and Moore link up 

The link up between Gavin Cromwell and Jonathan Moore looks like a really good fit.  Both are talented exponents of their respective crafts, both young, both highly progressive.

Cromwell just continues to go from strength to strength.  The loss of Espoir D’Allen was desperate for him and his team, as it was for owner JP McManus.  The loss of a young horse like that, in his prime, probably still progressing, only the second five-year-old to win a Champion Hurdle since See You Then.  The loss of unrealised potential.  All that he had yet to achieve.  There was no knowing how high Espoir D’Allen could have climbed. 

But Cromwell continues to progress.  He has had 15 winners on the flat this season so far, compared with 14 in the entire of 2018, and he has had 32 National Hunt winners already, just seven short of his total for all of last season, which was his best season ever.  Add that to what he achieved with Espoir D’Allen last season, and his Welsh National with Raz De Maree in January 2018 and his Prix de Royallieu win in October last year with Princess Yaiza.

Moore has ridden 19 National Hunt winners already this season.  His best season ever was the 2016/17 season, when he was riding for Rebecca Curtis in Britain, when he rode 38 winners in total.  He is half way there already this term.

He hooked up with Cromwell during the summer to win good handicap hurdles on Darver Star and Ming Dynasty, and remember that he won the Kerry National at Listowel last year on Snow Falcon for Noel Meade.  He has also won a Charlie Hall Chase and a Reynoldstown Chase and a Cork Grand National. 

They could propel each other forward with even greater momentum now.    

King George musings

There comes a point in the year when the King George that you talk about is the King George VI Chase, not the King George VI (same King George then) and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Enable usually wins the latter these days, and Altior is clear favourite for the former.  Altior hasn’t been beaten in over four years, he has never been beaten over hurdles or fences, and the call for him to target the King George is loud.  He is box office.

But he is not the highest-rated chaser in training, he is rated 2lb inferior to Kemboy and he is rated 1lb inferior to Cyrname, he is nine rising 10 and he has never been beyond two and a quarter miles in his life.  It will be great for racing if Nicky Henderson and Patricia Pugh have a go, and it will be even better if Altior succeeds, but it isn’t difficult to find more attractive betting propositions.

Bad luck

It’s bad luck all right.  Two counties involved in the replay, and racing scheduled for both counties on the day of the replay.

© The Irish Field, 7th September 2019