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TALKING TRAINER: Champions' calling
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TALKING TRAINER: Champions' calling
on 07 September 2018
Dave Keena caught up with some jockeys and trainers looking forward to Irish Champions' Weekend



2yo b c (521)

Excelebration - Flavia Tatiana

Joe Schmidt

KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (Group 2)

I was very happy with Cosmic Horizon at Roscommon and he has come out of that race well. This race is the plan for him.

He won well earlier in the week and he has come out of that race in good shape. He’s a horse that we’ve always liked and he didn’t surprise me (the way he won) the other day. He disappointed us the first day when he was very green and then he nearly won at Galway – he may have won that day in another couple of strides.

The horse that beat him, came out and won again since, so we were hopeful that he’d run a big race at Roscommon and he beat two nice horses that day.

He’s a colt that we’ve always liked and it’s great for Joe (Schmidt) who is a big fan of horse racing. He goes racing a fair bit and it’s great to have him on board and hopefully the horse will get there in one piece and run a big race for him.


2yo br c (201)

No Nay Never - Opera Fan

Mark Dobbin & Philip Antonacci

Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Group 1)

or KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (Group 2)

No Needs Never who won well at Down Royal. He was impressive that day and second and third have come out and won since. He handled fast ground well that day and if he got his conditions, I’d imagine that he’ll go too.


Colm O'Donoghue with Alpha Centauri - "I just have to concentrate on her. I feed off the energy and the feel that she gives me" Photo HEALY RACING


3yo gr f (1125-01111)

Mastercraftsman - Alpha Lupi

Niarchos Family

Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (Group 1)

She is a very good filly and you only have to look at the ratings of the horses that she has beaten to show just how good she is. She has developed and improved all season and, in her races, everything seems to be slow motion in comparison to her. She has power and strength and she is a great mover.

She is a well-balanced filly and has a great mind and she just ticks all the boxes. She has done all that has been asked of her and more. If anything, she has gotten better with each race.

They have made her tougher and mentally and physically, she has improved with each start.

At the moment, the sky is the limit for her and her performance the last day in France was exceptional. She has been on go for a while, but she appears to be thriving with racing and she has gotten better with each start. We went very slow early and then we quickened and we only raced from half-way in Deauville, but she put the race to bed very quickly.

She has come out of that race very well and, all being well, she’ll go for the Matron. The team at Jessie’s have done a great job with her. Steff looks after her along with Debbie and their input should never be underestimated – I have the easy job riding her in her races!

Hopefully there will be a big crowd at Leopardstown to see her and Irish Champions Weekend is a huge weekend in the racing calendar. But the big crowds won’t distract me, as I have a job to do on the day and I just have to concentrate on her. I feed off the energy and the feel that she gives me. I am really looking forward to it.



2yo b f (314)

Joanne Lavery

Dandy Man - Kayak

Moyglare Stud Stakes (Group 1)

She may not have been in love with the ground in the Debutante and I think she learned a huge amount that day. That race was only seven days after she won (the Loder Race) at the Curragh and in hindsight, it may have come a bit soon for her.

She just did her own thing when she won the weekend before but she learned an awful lot in the Debutante and the winner is a very smart filly. She has come out of the race very well and the plan is to go for the Moyglare.

We have yet to see the best of her as she is a tall, leggy filly and I think she’ll be a better filly next year as she a lot of filling out to do.

I would be on edge going into a big race like this and my fuse would be a bit shorter, as having a filly like is a very big deal for a yard like ours. But the fact that she was beaten the last day means that we’ll probably go into next weekend a bit under the radar. I rather it be like that and I try and let the horses do the talking on the track.


Madhmoon winning at Leopardstown - "that race has worked out well" Healy Racing


2yo b c (1)

Dawn Approach - Aaraas

Hamdan Al Maktoum

KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (Group 2)

or Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Group 1)

He was very good when he won his maiden and the form of that race has worked out well and he has come of that race in very good form. He obviously has a few little bits to do before the weekend, and he has the two options and the boss (Kevin Prendergast) will decide next week as to which race he’ll go for.

It’s a weekend that I always look forward to and it has been a good meeting for me. At the moment he looks my best ride and I’d have no doubt that he’ll be competitive in whatever race he runs in.


Skitter Scatter and Ronan Whelan "she is a pleasure to ride"


2yo b f (313211)

Scat Daddy - Dane Street

Anthony Rogers & Mrs Sonia Rogers

Moyglare Stud Stakes (Group 1)

She was very good in the Debutante. She had been a bit workmanlike in a couple of her races earlier in the year but she was impressive at Leopardstown and she showed a real touch of class when she won the Debutante. She bounced and travelled and once I asked her, she quickened and put the race to bed. If anything, she would have preferred a lead for a bit longer.

It’s great for everyone in the yard and her owners, and it’s a bit of a fairy tale to be honest. We all need good horses and it’s brilliant for her owners who are so enthusiastic and to see their reaction after she won her last two starts was magic.

Fair play to Patrick and the man who looks after her, Patta (Khvedelidze from Georgia) – they haven’t missed a beat with her all year. I have the easy job riding her on the track and she is a pleasure to ride as she is so tough.

There is no doubt that she has improved as well and you’d have to have been impressed by her in the Debutante and, on the basis of that performance, she goes to the Moyglare a contender. I just hope that she gets reasonable ground. She appears to handle anything, but very soft ground is an unknown for her.

It was fast when she won the Silver Flash and it was yielding-to-soft the last day at the Curragh.



3yo b c (111-14324 )

Deep Impact - Maybe


Qipco Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1)

He just started back last week and Donnacha rode him and he was very happy with him. There is a big chance that he’ll make the big jump. He was very sick after Sandown – he was properly sick. We had the three-race programme for him in the autumn, which was York, Leopardstown and then maybe go back for Ascot. But we had to start him off and York was a nice race to start him back in. Ryan was very happy with him and he had to get a bit tired that day at York.

The little bit he did a few days ago was nice and there is a good chance that he has made the move. Obviously, there is a bit to go between now and then, but we’ve been very happy with him since York and the plan at the minute is to go Leopardstown.

Flag Of Honour could be the Ballydoyle representitive in the Comer Group Irish St Leger Healy Racing


3yo b c (9151-35011)

Galileo - Hawala


Cormer Group International Irish St Leger (Group 1)

Flag Of Honour is a very honest, straightforward horse. He had good run in France in the spring in that trial. When he went up to a mile and a half he was very comfortable at the trip. He does get the mile and six well but you are never sure they will get the trip until they do it, but when he went up to it he seemed to get it well.


2yo b c (7111))

Galileo - Believe’N’Succeed


Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Group 1)

The plan is to go to the National Stakes. He can step up after that or he can finish. He has had four runs now and has that experience.


Quorto Photo Healy Racing.


2yo b c (11)

Dubawi - Volume


Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Group 1)

He’s had a break since the Superlative Stakes and he has done nothing wrong to date and I thought he was very impressive in the Superlative. He is very well-bred and he looks the part. It’s early days yet as far as the two-year olds are concerned and we’ll wait and see what turns up in the National Stakes.

He is a very exciting horse and he has a lot of speed and he has done everything right so far.

Touch wood, if he can be as good as his father was, then we are okay.



3yo gr c (1112-351311)

Kitten’s Joy - Vionnet

Qatar Racing Limited

Qipco Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1)

It is one of the major championship races of the year and there is a good chance that he could go there. He is a very good horse and he holds a special place in my heart and he has helped my career enormously.

Hopefully, he stays healthy and you’d imagine that if he travelled to Leopardstown that he’d be one of the favourites for the race.

I know Leopardstown pretty well and I used to go there for the Christmas National Hunt Festival as a child and if the horse (Roaring Lion) went there for one of their big flat races, it would be exciting.

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