The Jane Mangan column: For racing people, the Galway Festival is the high point of every Irish summer

The Jane Mangan column: For racing people, the Galway Festival is the high point of every Irish summer
Great White Shark, centre, with Cork jockey Jody Townend up, on their way to winning the Connacht Hotel Handicap in Ballybrit last summer. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

WHAT makes the Galway Festival one of the most special sporting events on the Irish calendar?

The people of course! Following the government’s announcement this week, that events catering for more than 5,000 people will not be licensed up to the end of August, the team at Ballybrit are faced with a logistical nightmare.

Credit where it is due to the racecourse team, they were quick to make their own statement on Tuesday evening, confirming that they would endeavour to run the meeting in a closed setting pending Government procedures and medical guidance.

Obviously, this doesn’t come as a complete shock but confirmation of such a prospect is still a bitter pill to swallow. Ireland’s summer will have a completely different complexion in 2020 and racing will simply have to adjust. Wallowing in the disappointment of losing a concert or sporting event pales in significance to the battle the world is currently fighting.

So what exactly can we look forward to this summer?

Flat horses across the country are still in full training, ready for when the government allow racecourse action to resume behind closed doors.

I’ve picked a few of the best bred juveniles in training across Europe who I’m particularly looking forward to seeing and who might brighten up our screens over the coming months. Warning these horses are selected purely based on their blue blood lineage — there is no “inside scoop” to these selections!

Thierry Jarnet riding Treve crosses the finish line to win the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe horse race at the Longchamp race track, outside Paris, in 2014.
Thierry Jarnet riding Treve crosses the finish line to win the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe horse race at the Longchamp race track, outside Paris, in 2014.

Remember Treve? That motivator mare who Criquette Head-Maarek trained to win back-to-back Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes? Well, her second foal is in training with Andre Fabre and has been aptly named Paris!

She comes from the first crop of Shalaa who will be hoping to hit the ground running when racing resumes, and this filly will undoubtedly will attract plenty of attention when she does reach the track. She has all the right people in her corner and a name that suggests Longchamp could be on the cards yet again!

The Dubliners might have coined the name “Molly Malone” but the Coolmore partners are borrowing the iconic title for their American Pharoah sister to Bracelet, Wading, Athena and Goddess. Her dam Cherry Hinton is a sister to Galileo and Sea The Stars so it’s a family Aidan O’Brien knows very well. No pressure!

Juddmonte Farms is home to one of the best broodmare bands on the planet. Their stallions are world renowned and their breeding techniques go far beyond the covering shed.

Juddmonte adopt a winning strategy — if a trainer gets results with a particular family, they continue to send that trainer branches of the same bloodlines. With that in mind, Ger Lyons’ exploits last season mean he has been entrusted with Siskin’s younger sister Talacre, while John Gosden watches over Derab, a Sea The Stars brother to Enable. Results breed results!

Jockey Paul Hanagan leads Soft Falling Rain, owned by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamad Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, to win the Godolphin Mile.
Jockey Paul Hanagan leads Soft Falling Rain, owned by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamad Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, to win the Godolphin Mile.

Andrew Balding will be hoping to get Kameko to Epsom this summer but he also has some quality juveniles at his disposal. Spirit Mixer is the first foal from Arabian Mirage — David Elsworth’s filly who sprang a major surprise when beating Golden Horn in the Juddmonte International back in 2015.

As for some colts, Godolphin went on a spending spree at the Tattersalls Yearling Sale last Autumn where Sheikh Mohammed splashed out 3,100,000gns for a Frankel brother to Epsom Derby winner Golden Horn and 3,600,000gns for a Dubawi brother to Barney Roy (named Ides Of August) both in training with Charlie Appleby.

Ed Dunlop has endured a few quiet seasons by his own high standards recently but how appropriate would it be if a son of his former six time Group 1 winning superstar Snow Fairy were to bring him back to the main stage? By Frankel and named John Leeper, this is a colt to follow when the wraps eventually come off!

Ballydoyle is traditionally the candy shop of blue bloods and this year Aidan O’Brien has another band of regally bred juvenile colts at his disposal. Prior to racing’s lockdown, the name Giorgio Vasari appeared amongst the entries at Naas on the opening day of the season. This bay colt is a brother to Group 1 winning juvenile turned Castlehyde Stud stallion Sioux Nation and comes from the first crop of Champion two year old Air Force Blue.

O’Brien is also responsible for nurturing full brothers to Kew Gardens (Wordsworth), Magician (unnamed), Washington DC (Harvard) and Johannes Vermeer (Wembley) amongst many others.

These are just a few names bubbling under the surface, waiting for the opportunity to run and prove themselves in public. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too much longer to see these athletes in action!

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