Ruby Walsh: Saxon Warrior deserves a second chance at the Curragh

Ruby has a look ahead to the Irish Derby at the Curragh this weekend, and gives us his thoughts on a GAA controversy close to home...


In the Irish Derby this weekend, Saxon Warrior is on a retrieval mission, but I think he didn’t show at Epsom at all. He didn’t get a great run down the hill but when the room was there to go he never went. If he had picked up and finished third, you’d say maybe that’s as good as he is but for me he didn’t show his true colours.

I’d be inclined to put a line through that performance and give him another shot – I’m not the quickest to forgive horses but I’d forgive him that.

The biggest danger could be the horse that finished second in the Epsom Derby, Dee Ex Bee, but I’d give Saxon Warrior the benefit of the doubt and go again with him. He wouldn’t be the first to falter at Epsom before bouncing back at the Curragh. He looked so impressive in the 2000 Guineas, which was perhaps harder on him than people thought.

DONCASTER, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 28: Ryan Moore riding Saxon Warrior (R) win The Racing Post Trophy Stakes from Roaring Lion (L) at Doncaster racecourse on October 28, 2017 in Doncaster, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ryan Moore;Saxon Warrior

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But if he gets beaten twice, then he’s running out of excuses.

I’m hopin to mae a comeback soon enough myself, I was with the doctor this morning and he’s very happy with my x-ray. The plan is still to return for Galway. There’s no jump racing over the next ten days so it’ll be a quiet enough time for Willie’s horses. After the Derby weekend you start to look ahead to Galway, so all those horses will have their workloads upped. We’ll be making plans and pulling the Galway team together early next week.

Kildare putting it up to GAA

There is a double-header scheduled for Croke Park, Kildare v Mayo and Cavan v Tyrone. I didn’t believe it was part of the rules that this could happen – I believed the qualifier was played in the ground of whichever team came out of the hat first. Kildare came out first, so they’re entitled to take on Mayo in Newbridge on Saturday evening at 7pm, under two hours after the Irish Derby takes place.

It would be an absolute beano for the economies of Newbridge, Kildare town and the county as a whole. By moving the game to Croke Park, the GAA are only thinking about themselves. Dublin benefits enough from the GAA, enjoying great spin-off from the games in Croke Park – provincial towns are entitled to their go too.

St. Conleth’s Park, Newwbridge, Co. Kildare 26/6/2018
A view of St. Conleth’s Park
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

As it stands, Kildare are refusing to go to Croke Park, and I think they’re right. The pitch in Newbridge isn’t as big as Croker, but it’s Kildare’s pitch. They had to go to Derry to play the first round of qualifiers, so why aren’t the Lilywhites allowed take up their home draw?

Those are the rules of the qualifiers. Changing the rules half way in is a bitter pill to swallow.

There would likely be a bigger piece of the financial pie for Kildare GAA by going to Croke Park, but they’re sticking to their principles and backing up their local community. There’s more to it than just moving a game to a bigger stadium. has the latest odds on the Irish Derby

What do you think?