THE turf season on the flat in Ireland could not have had a better start. Last weekend the sun shone brightly on the Curragh and Naas as they welcomed good crowds to witness some fine sport.
This column last week even managed to point readers in the direction of the first juvenile winner of the year in Ireland.
A fascinating fact of the weekend’s 16 flat races was that the winners were sent out by 13 different trainers, the father and son duo of Aidan and Joseph O’Brien having one at each meeting, as did Ado McGuinness. This pair of successes for Ado was the icing on the cake, given that early on Saturday afternoon he won the $1.5 million Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint with A Case Of You.
The Limestone and Tara Stud-bred A Case Of You was famously sold for a fraction of his reserve price of €3,000 after failing to excite buyers at Goffs, and his winnings now are in the region of €1.2 million. If this is not one of the best stories of Irish racing, I don’t know what is. Surely there is no better tale to tell to the wider world, encouraging people to take a punt at ownership.
I also applaud Ado’s attitude to chasing lucrative prizes abroad. Thirteen months ago he sent Bowerman to Qatar and won some €100,000 with him. With valuable prizes available overseas, and many incentives to bring runners from Europe, more Irish trainers should be exploiting these opportunities.
There was an early start for me on Monday to make it to Ballydoyle for 7.30am, an annual trip that is always a joy to make.
Aidan O’Brien produced almost 100 horses for the assembled Irish press to see being put through their paces, ranging from two-year-olds, through classic hopes and even some established stars such as Broome and Order Of Australia.
The insight this visit provides is reflected in the feature elsewhere in the paper from Anne Marie Duff. A piece of information Aidan provided, as a result of a question I posed, was the support being provided by John and Sue Magnier to the families of Ukrainian workers at Coolmore and Ballydoyle.
This aid extends to the families of some 20 workers at the two venues, and involved bringing family and loved ones from the war-torn country.
Work is underway to provide them with more permanent accommodation. I am sure that others are doing similar acts of humanitarian assistance, and great credit to all who have helped in this effort.