Ruby Walsh: Irish racing has done its best to make up for lost time

Ruby ruminates on the return of racing.



Since racing resumed, I think things have gone well. Ireland started with a couple of Listed races at Naas and that helped, especially with Sceptical’s performance in particular.

That gave a highlight to the first day as well as Shane Foley riding a four-timer and Jessica Harrington having a treble. It started with a bang while the BHA chose a different option in England by having ten pretty average races in Newcastle to kick things off the week before in the UK.

Maybe they were testing the waters over there as they hadn’t had as many meetings behind closed doors as Ireland. I definitely think that Ireland started with a bit of quality and France did the same. That was a good idea as you need quality. In Ireland already this week, we’ve had two Listed races in Naas, three pattern races at Leopardstown, including a Derby Trial, and two Listed races at Navan on Wednesday.

We’re doing our best to make up for lost time and to get new viewers, you have to be looking at getting quality. Looking back at the Guineas weekend in Newmarket, it produced great racing and some great performances. Ghaiyyath was good in the Coronation Cup on Friday, albeit he beat horses who want further. It was still a pretty dominant display though.


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A look back at the UK Guineas races…

In the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas, Kameko was very good and it was a great day for Oisin Murphy and Andrew Balding. It looked a good renewal and both Wichita and Pinatubo ran very well, as did the fourth-placed horse Military March. He looks like a Derby horse but I’d still fancy Kameko to beat him at Epsom.

I felt he came home really well and he was a winner over a mile as a two-year-old. I know we still have to see Mogul but at the moment, Kameko would be my idea of the Derby winner. Despite the tailwind helping, it was a fast time and he was very good getting up close home.

In the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas, Love was completely dominant. She could have been called the winner a long way out and she looked really, really good. She looks the one to beat in the Oaks on the back of that and we could have seen both the Derby & Oaks winners last weekend winning both Guineas.


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We probably think that an awful lot and it doesn’t always happen but they look like two horses which will stay. I know it’s been a while since Camelot completed the 2000 Guineas-Derby double but some of the best stallions in Camelot and Sea The Stars won over all distances.

If Kameko could add the Derby and the Irish Champion Stakes to his Guineas win, he’d have proved himself at every trip pedigree-wise and I’d be hoping Kameko could do something like that and be a real champion.

A look ahead to Royal Ascot week…

Royal Ascot is coming up on us fast next week and given the form of both Aidan O’Brien and Jessica Harrington this week, there will be plenty of Irish chances there next week. Aidan will be mob-handed all week while Jessie will have the likes of Alpine Star going over for the Coronation Stakes. There are going to be lots of good horses going over and the clash of Stradivarius and Kew Gardens in the Ascot Gold Cup is going to be very exciting.

The two-year-old races are going to be exciting too. It’s going to be a different Royal Ascot in many ways. For example, the St James’ Palace Stakes is even going to be run on the Tuesday this year. It’s still going to be very good racing and when you look at the form of John Gosden’s horses too, he’s flying. A lot of big yards are going really and that will only make for very competitive racing next week. Royal Ascot matters so they’ll all be ready for it.

And there’s some cracking racing in Ireland too…

We’re lucky enough to have some brilliant racing coming up in Ireland over the next few months and the first of the live RTE programmes start on Friday with a two-hour programme for the 2,000 Guineas meeting. It’s great to have Irish racing shown on so many platforms on Friday and Saturday, as ITV and Racing TV are showing it as well. That can only be a good thing.

From the following weekend on, RTE will then have an hour-long programme on Friday, Saturday and Sunday covering the smaller meetings and they’ll be relatively new shows for RTE. It’s great for racing to get itself on terrestrial television in Ireland and while the Premier League is coming back next week, there’s still no GAA or Rugby so racing has a chance to get some new viewers.

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It will be a new way of showing racing as the likes of my Dad will be on zoom giving his thoughts but there will be delays no matter how good the Wi-Fi is. It’s not as quick as when you’re standing beside someone and it can be hard to make conversations flow. Technically, it will be a different show as well and with no crowd, no owners, no bookmakers, it will be a new challenge to make the show entertaining.

We’ll probably be a little bit more analytical but I don’t think that will be a bad thing. You can be sure the more shows we do, the more we’ll learn.

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What do you think?