Whenever horse racing does return, the one certainty is that international travel is going to be limited. That’s even for race meetings behind closed doors. How racing will get on with international competition, I don’t know.
I don’t see much international participation for a while between in Ireland, England or France. So what does that mean?
Here’s 5 things I think may happen.
1. Ryan Moore becomes Irish Champion Flat Jockey
With Donnacha O’Brien now retired, what do Ballydoyle do with Ryan Moore? Is he going to be able to ride in two different jurisdictions or just one? Will they look to bring him to Ireland for the season?
If they do, then he’s going to be here the whole time and that surely increases his chances to be champion jockey in Ireland. I think it could be unlikely that he’ll be able to travel between Ireland and the UK.
When you look at it, he’s 20/1 to be champion jockey in Ireland.
Ryan is going to have to make a choice between staying in the UK or Ireland and you’d have thought that Ballydoyle are going to want him to ride their horses. I think he could be in Ireland for the season and if he’s riding in Ireland every day, he’s no 20/1 shot!
Remember, all of Aidan’s horses are going to have to run in Ireland over the coming months. The way I look at it, you’re getting 20/1 about Ryan Moore in a two-horse race against Colin Keane at 1/2 fav to be Irish champion jockey.
2. Two mini Galway Festivals instead of one?
As it stands, Galway is going to take place behind closed doors. But do they still have seven days racing at the end of July when there’s no spin off for the city or the area?
I don’t think so.
I’d say the maximum Galway can go is four days. I can see all the summer festivals losing a day or two. The same with Killarney. These so-called festivals aren’t going to be festivals this year because the fun that goes with them isn’t going to be there.
If the restrictions are lifted in August, could we see the Galway Plate & Galway Hurdle take place at the September meeting? I don’t think they’ll push the Galway festival back two weeks, but they could have a four-day Galway meeting in July that is more ‘top heavy’ with Flat racing than it usually is.
Just four days racing, with no crowd, in July. Then you could move the main jump races to the September meeting. Or the September meeting in Galway host all the feature races.
To me, splitting Galway up into two separate meetings could be the answer.
3. An Irish Classic clean sweep for Ballydoyle
In the absence of the UK or French runners, there’s going to be a better chance that Ballydoyle will dominate on the Irish Classic front. Could they do an Irish Classic clean sweep?
Some people will automatically come to that conclusion, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s nailed on.
There are trainers who can put it up to Aidan O’Brien in the Classics.
There’s Joseph O’Brien, Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger and now Donnacha O’Brien can be thrown into the mix as well. You also have to remember all the good fillies that Jessie Harrington has. Ger Lyons has Siskin for the Irish 2,000 Guineas as well.
With no Irish horses being able to travel for the Classics in England or France, you’re going to have big fields in the Irish Guineas.
There will be no hiding place.
4. Pinatubo Guineas-Derby double
Should none of the Ballydoyle horses, or any Irish horses in fact, be able to run in the English 2,000 Guineas or Epsom Derby, then you’d have you think that Pinatubo’s chances of completing the Guineas-Derby double are very much enhanced.
Arizona was the one horse which pushed him last year in the Dewhurst, but if he can’t travel, like the rest of the Ballydoyle horses, then that’s going to help Pinatubo. Obviously, he’ll have to have trained on from last season, but on what we saw last year, he looks an absolute machine.
Imagine, if he was to win in Newmarket, then Epsom and headed to York to take on Arizona or Siskin in the Juddmonte, if they’ve already won a couple of Classics in Ireland?
Or over 1m 2f in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in September?
Siskin v Arizona v an unbeaten Pinatubo! That would be an amazing spectacle.
5. Big-race clashes further down the line
The best In Ireland will have to take each other on. It will be the same in the UK and likewise in France. Eventually, it will open up whether it be three or four months down the line and the best from each jurisdiction, can all start to take each other on.
Then we’re going to have proper racing.
You’ll have the Classic winners in Ireland taking on Classic winners in England and France. And come the time, whether it be in the Irish Champion Stakes, the Juddmonte in York or the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, there will be some mouth-watering clashes.
It will be like the ‘old days’ when the best of Ireland went to Cheltenham to take on the best of the English horses. And like the Irish Derby back in the day when the English Derby winner always took on the French Derby winner, like Generous and Suave Dancer locking horns in 1991.
Its match ups like that we can look forward to towards the end of the season. So the lack of international competition initially could lead to some amazing contests towards the end of the Flat season.
*Prices quoted are correct at publication but are subject to change