PAT ‘Cash’ Healy has come a long way since he took his first racing picture in 1979 at the Stonehall point-to-point fixture at Askeaton, Co Limerick.
The photograph shows Peter Greenall, now Lord Daresbury, in front on P.P. Hogan’s Alton, with the eventual winner, Pat Doyle on Lattins Boy, just making it into the frame, some way behind the leader.
Just as Pat’s technique has improved to the point that he is one of the world’s best racing photographers, point-to-point racing has also developed from being ‘just’ a sport to a serious business.
Nonetheless, the fun and enjoyment to be had from a day racing between the flags remains, and is captured magnificently in the latest tome celebrating the work of Healy Racing, and published by The O’Brien Press.
With words from Richard Pugh, a man who pledged his heart and soul to the sport since he rode as an amateur in the 1990s, Point To Point, The Heart of Irish Racing, is now available in shops and could even be an early buy for the Christmas stockings in three months’ time.
A short, but very appropriate, tribute to Pat’s father Liam at the front of the book is especially apt this week as the great founder of Healy Racing was remembered at Listowel on Monday with the Lartigue Hurdle carrying his name.
The piece reminds us that, in 1975, Liam and his great friend Patrick Walsh, the latter still active with a camera, went to attend a point-to-point in Fedamore, the start of a lifetime love of the sport.
In almost 200 pages, this book celebrates the sport, tells many stories, creates the scene in words and pictures, and champions great horses, riders, handlers and award winners.
It is a lovely step back in time, a reminder of so many human and equine greats, and a book that will be treasured, well-thumbed and enjoyed in spades.
Published by The O’Brien Press and for sale at €24.99/£22.99, Point To Point, The Heart of Irish Racing is a must for anyone with even a passing interest in a sector which started the careers of greats such as Best Mate, Honeysuckle, Davy Russell, Rachael Blackmore, Enda Bolger, Derek O’Connor and Jamie Codd.