Ruby Walsh believes Horse Racing Ireland must do everything they can to allow Godolphin riders to compete in the Irish Champions weekend at Leopardstown and The Curragh later this month.
There is currently a 14-day self-isolation period required for individuals upon arrival in Ireland, in line with government protocols to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
This raises questions over whether Ghaiyyath will run in the Irish Champion Stakes, and who will be available to ride the five-year-old – currently rated as the best horse in the world thanks to a hat-trick of Group One victories.
UPDATE: Since Ruby gave his take earlier this week on the podcast, the Irish Government have decided to relax rules about enforcing a 14-day quarantine period on jockeys arriving to the country or Irish riders returning from racing abroad. The change in policy only applies to jockeys riding in Group One races.
Godolphin’s first-choice picks, William Buick and James Doyle, are still racing in Britain and would not be eligible unless special allowances are made.
Speaking on the latest edition of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Ruby said: “It looks like Godolphin, through HRI, are trying to seek an elite athlete exemption for their jockeys for the weekend.
“I probably agree with them – I think you could bring William Buick or James Doyle into Leopardstown or The Curragh and meet nobody, be near nobody etc.
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“Now it is a bit of a hot potato but if Godolphin can’t bring their own riders, are they really going to put somebody on Ghaiyyath who has never ridden him? He doesn’t look that straightforward a horse.
“William Buick has formed a great relationship with him and I think for horse racing in Ireland, Ghaiyyath is a huge draw to the Champion Stakes. He’s the highest-rated horse in the world, theoretically therefore the best horse in the world.
“I think it will be a bit of a miss if the people at the top can’t work out a way of getting William Buick in and out of this country without meeting anyone.”
However, there are several other options if neither Buick or Doyle are able to ride Ghaiyyath.
When asked for his potential replacement candidates, Ruby said: “That’s a good question. I’m trying to think where Godolphin have horses here at the moment.
“They have a couple with Jim Bolger, so you would imagine Kevin Manning would be in the running.
“It would be someone who has ridden for them, or rides for them, I would think. Colin Keane is an obvious one as well, I can’t imagine Ger Lyons will have a runner in the race so he would be available.
“The Ballydoyle jockeys will all be riding in it. Shane Foley? Jessie Harrington – will she have a runner? She could have. It’ll be someone of the very top rung [who gets the ride].”
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