The team at The Irish Field are hedging their bets with Santa this year and have written their letters, it’s up to the big fella to decide if they’ve been naughty

or nice this year

Dear Santa,

What can you bring this November day to cheer us racing folk up? Sort out this climate change stuff. No heatwave in the summer. No floods, nor sun and shadows at fences in the winter!

Steer the ruling bodies to see sense at defending the sport though keeping all the parts we all love.

Keep those on the tracks, horses and more importantly humans, safe from injury, like we say, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt and those in the frontline risk so much for our pleasure.

Del Mar, Melbourne – find me a week off for a racing tour of tours!

And every girl loves a grey – could you find a way to get a certain attractive looking beast to win the Gold Cup?

All the best

Anne Marie Duff

Dear Santa,

Could I please have the authority to readjust the Cheltenham Festival? Firstly, thanks for granting the wish of just about everyone this time last year by not allowing the authorities at Prestbury Park to make the meeting a five-day event. But this thing is still broken. I can’t remember seeing as many short priced favourites (5/2 or under) than at last year’s Festival.

That’s not a good thing. That’s uncompetitive and it’s not appropriate for the grandest stage of National Hunt racing. It also allows the powerful trainers to stay powerful, with a plethora of races giving them a plethora of options to keep all their plethora of big owners happy. There are any number of races you could take out - the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, the Mares’ Chase, the Turners Novices’ Chase spring to mind as the first to go.

And most importantly, take out the Champion Bumper - the scourge of National Hunt racing. Bumpers are training races and should be treated as such - not glorified at the major festivals. The Champion Bumper is the biggest carrot dangling and should be taken away to encourage horses bought as jumpers to, you know, go jumping.

Sorry, I realise this isn’t a very festive request, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do, and Santa, I know you love your National Hunt racing - kicking up the feet to watch the King George and Leopardstown after a hard day’s work.

Ronan Groome

Dear Santa,

I hope your preparations for the big night are going well. Should you be in any way concerned that your speed and stamina are on the wane after all these years of travelling around the world, may I suggest that you take a visit to Willie Mullins’ yard over the coming weeks to get into top shape. The Closutton Christmas prep always seems to do the trick when it comes to delivering the goods over the festive period.

I’ll keep it simple in terms of what I really want this year. It’s something that we’ve been promised before, multiple times actually since it was first due on January 1st 2017. You more than anyone surely understand the importance of having a handle on timing and the importance of getting your fractions right for covering the globe on your big night. That is why I’m hoping you can finally get the introduction of sectional timing for Irish racing over the line at long last. It is long overdue.

The authorities have promised that the technology will be ready to go by the start of next year, but we’ve been down this road before and not seen any end product. That will not suffice any longer. Ireland has fallen way behind other racing jurisdictions on this and we cannot face another year where our top-class racing is not mirrored with top-level data. The benefits of having sectional timing in place are clear for all to see. As we begin to enter into 2024, we need to move with the times.

Mark Boylan

Dear Santa

I hope you don’t mind that my wish for this year relates to another holiday season. Every year I bring my non-racing enthusiast friends to the Fairyhouse Easter Sunday meeting. This year can you please grant me the serenity to be happy for my friends who will inevitably make loads of money by picking the horses with the funniest names despite the fact that they haven’t done the same three-hour research I did that morning. My method will usually result in at least three trips to the only ATM at Fairyhouse Racecourse, the queue for which usually takes about 40 minutes. If that is not possible, a new coffee machine for our office would be nice as every time I make a latte, a new Pope is elected right here in The Irish Field HQ.

Best wishes,

Tom Gannon

Dear Santa,

Thanks as always for calling to our house. Sarah says I’m a disgrace and that I need to tidy myself up when out competing at the shows. I got a pair of Parlanti boots last year, made to measure if you don’t mind, the team at Tailored Equestrian are working with me at the moment and I hope to be poured into them in the new year. A new riding jacket wouldn’t go astray, you might find something nice for me in TRI. I do like my Charles Owen riding hat but I’m told it’s from Noah’s Ark time and that I need a new one. A Halo one from their new collection would be good. Lulu, Romy, Chinky and Dinky all did well this year and got new Horseware rugs for the winter. They hope to go travelling next year so maybe something from their travel collection would be good. A subscription to MYSHOWADVISOR would be very handy as it keeps me in the loop with what’s happening around the world. For around the yard I would like a new wheelbarrow, one of those nice big ones…if it had a motor attached it would leave it much easier for Sarah to use! Joking. But I do believe Bill Holmes has some on special offer.

Finally, if it was at all possible, I would love a golden ticket to jump in the RDS. We might have one more go with Lulu in the seven- and eight-year-old classes. If you’re real Santa, you will make it happen.

As always make sure you deliver something decent for Sarah and Jack - I’m sure they have been in contact.

All the best

Brendan McArdle

Dear Santa,

One good leg, that’s all I need this year. Not for me you understand, though waking up on Christmas morning a couple of inches taller would always be welcome, but for my poor mare with lymphangitis.

Despite following the very best veterinary advice and my devoted husband and I spending more hours than we care to count bandaging and creaming, dressing and walking and hosing, it’s a condition that can’t be ‘fixed’. So, without being bold, I’d like to just point out that I’ve been really really good this year, never missed a deadline and if there’s a 16.2hh jet black American Post offside hind leg hanging around up there in Lapland, please fire it down our chimney this year.

Yours as ever,

Helen Sharp x

Dear Santa,

I’ll be happy sitting down at the table on Christmas morning surrounded by all the family, fit and healthy.

If you have time though, I wouldn’t mind seeing an increase in field sizes in National Hunt racing in the UK, which in turn should make the Cheltenham Festival a little more competitive (like the good old days of Ireland vs England) but with Ireland bringing home the Prestbury Cup!

And finally…Another ride around the Grand National course at Aintree would be nice, but that might be stretching it...

All the best Santa

Paul Callaghan

Dear Santa,

Some Christmas magic required as this year I am due to be the hostess for an army of 18.

A little dig out would be much appreciated with the following requests...

Michael Bublé to meet and greet and sing a few carols upon arrival. Marco Pierre White to cook the banquet extraordinaire (in something other than the air fryer). Dessert served up by Tommy Tiernan or Billy Connolly and send over Bruce Springsteen to round the evening up with an old sing song. Oh and sorry, one more tiny request for the entire staff of Downton Abbey to serve.

As Charlie Brown once put it: “It’s not what’s under the tree, it’s who’s around it”.

Much love and appreciation for your efforts,

Robyn Codd x

Dear Santa,

I have been a very good girl this year and think it’s about time I fully committed to my new life in the West by getting a Connemara Pony to join the family. I’m not asking for much, just a broken and riding 14.2+, any colour as long as it has black points (I have three children so there is no time for washing four additional legs in this house!). Sweet natured, scopey, happy on the beach or in the show ring, something I can throw the kids on one day and take eventing the next. I understand that such a creature will probably blow your budget to smithereens in the current market but I’ve been stuck in sunny Australia for the past 15 years so I really think the hardship of looking after a new pony in the depths on an Irish winter is just what I need to acclimatise. Can promise said pony the unconditional love of three rambunctious boys. Failing that, I’ll accept a unicorn.

Much love

Lesley Hunter-Nolan xxx