“WITH opportunity comes responsibility” — Winston Churchill
IN the midst of difficulty lies opportunity — that’s the mindset of those looking beyond Covid-19.
Over the last fortnight, the tide has been turning. Last Monday was the first day without any virus-related deaths in Ireland and the number of cases continues to fall gradually.
The sun is shining, hay is being cut and Irish racing has been gearing itself up for resumption on June 8. Trainers are preparing their horses while jockeys get their weight in check. Racecourses are adapting to protocols and on Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that RTÉ are getting behind the industry too.
After much deliberation and planning, our national broadcaster announced a series of one-hour evening programmes on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in June and early July.
These new shows will broadcast live coverage of Irish racing on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, starting with Ireland’s first two Classics at the Curragh: the Irish 2000 Guineas on June 12 and the Irish 1000 Guineas on June 13.
The new ship will be steered by presenter Hugh Cahill, who belatedly takes the reins from the master Robert Hall. Personally, I’m delighted to be part of the team alongside Ted and Ruby Walsh for what will be an opportunity like no other.
The new programmes will run from 7pm-8pm on Friday and 5pm-6pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and will have two live races with previews and analysis, interviews from the track, as well as replays from action earlier that evening.
Rest assured, this is a beacon of light shining on an industry that has suffered greatly in recent months. Yes, we’re no different to any other industry, but given RTÉ has handed us a golden egg, we don’t have to hesitate on whether to grab it with both hands.
This show of support by our national broadcaster isn’t just an opportunity to showcase our great sport to a wider audience. This is a responsibility to do it justice. When those gates open, we’ll all be running!
While we chomp at the bit here at home, the stage is set at Deauville to showcase the first European Classics of the season.
Monday’s 10-race card which was moved from Longchamp to the Normandy coast features the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Poule d’Essai des Pouliches but unlike other years, these French Guineas don’t feature international competitors.
Fortunately, such is the strength and depth of the French racing industry, both races remain ultra-competitive and the market leaders for each race is trained by Andre Fabre.
When racing resumed in Paris a fortnight ago, the Fabre camp indicated that their star juvenile Victor Ludorum would improve for his third placing in the Prix de Fontainebleau. The Summit exposed his rivals on the day and once again reposes on Monday. The question remains — can Fabre improve his colt enough to turn the tables from two weeks ago?
Fabre also saddles a quality supporting cast which includes fellow Group 1 winner Alson and Listed winner Arapaho. These three horses represent Godolphin, Baron Von Ullmann, and Coolmore — each the most dominant breeding operation in the respective countries. Is it any wonder Fabre dominates classic races?
Monsieur Fabre saddles recent Prix de la Grotte winner Trobeau in the 1,000 Guineas 30 minutes later. She must overcome the unexposed Simeen and classy German raider Emoji if she is to gain her first success at the top table. That said, sheboasts the strongest form. Fabre must fancy his chances of completing the Guineas double!
While the stars align in Deauville, Newcastle’s Monday card will also attract plenty of attention. British racing kicks off at the all-weather venue on Monday - unsurprisingly the card attracted a whopping 369 across eight races.
Exactly a week from now, the spotlight will be on Newmarket. A fortnight from today, the Curragh will be centre stage, and Royal Ascot a week after that.
Buckle up, because when racing starts it will live up to the name, we’ll be zooming from venue to venue for what will be an action-packed summer.