Another week, another SD to keep you in the loop on all things racing via the occasionally wonderful medium of tweetie, writes William Kedjanyi. We kick off with a familiar gripe related to race clashes...
- Do The Splits
Oh, what a glorious Sunday to be an Irish racing fan. The flat was back at Naas and there was also a decent jumping card at Down Royal featuring the Ulster National. It was enough to stay in on even the sunniest of days, sit back, and watch… half the race on whatever device you chose.
The last sentence is a tongue in cheek reference to the fact that there was a spit screen for the big betting race of the day, the Irish Lincolnshire. Thankfully it was won in convincing style by Karawaan, so as not to provide much confusion over the finish but, of basically any race on the card – and there were eight – there couldn’t have been a less suitable contest with which to share the screen than a 20 runner handicap in bright sunlight.
An unlucky split-screen for the Irish Lincoln means we will now probably get a split-screen replay, nearly worthless in trying to assess the whole field in the first big handicap of the season. Really hope a clean feed with full-screen can be uploaded to respective sites.
— Declan Rix (@HawkWing2002) March 24, 2019
Eight weeks ago, in this newsletter, the potential for British and Irish fixtures to clash, especially on Sundays, was raised after Racing TV’s very promising launch, and over the past eight weeks, there has been one recurring theme – that of the coverage of Irish racing.
Many subscribers have been rather frustrated, and following the decision to split screen the Irish Lincolnshire, that debate roared into life yet again.
Irish Lincoln coverage completely butchered by @racingtv. Split screen nonsense does Irish racing a disservice. There is a pressing need for two channels
— Jason Hathorn (@JJHeathview) March 24, 2019
Double Trouble: The obvious solution is for a second channel for Racing TV. The issue, however, is running costs to do so that couldn’t be recouped, which is likely to win out.
We would love two channels but finances for a second one surely can't work for minority sport? I know there are 999 stations on the Sky platform but there were probably more people watching the GOD Channel at 4.20 today than RTV.
— Tony Keenan (@RacingTrends) March 24, 2019
Tune Off? It’s clear that Racing TV is going to have this issue for the rest of the season, and it will be a challenge for them during the spring and the autumn; One can coordinate the starts between courses, but when both codes are in play, it is a very common occurrence given the sheer amount of racing in the UK. As mentioned below, Racing TV’s unique selling point is the depth of analysis and quality of coverage it can bring for racing; and should that be compromised subscribers could find it hard to justify on top of other options.
It's been clear since the announcement that you need two channels, otherwise Racing TV loses a lot of what makes it worth paying for (interviews, analysis, anticipation building). If it just becomes race after race & split screens, you might as well watch on your phone
— James (@jamesaknight) March 24, 2019
Steady on: I am not suggesting that Racing TV has lost its edge – the team there is exceptional – but bar online platforms, clashes like this are an inevitability and the loser might well be Irish racing and it’s fans.
Update: Apparently the replays are still split screened, and with dead space:
— Tom (@UTVilla) March 25, 2019
- Who Da Man-ning ?!
One thing viewers couldn’t miss was a sensational start to the season for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning, who combined for a 5,354-1 treble with 14/1, 16/1 and 20/1 winners.
Following wins for Western Dawn in the maiden and Solar Wave in a competitive handicap, Normandel clung on grimly to win a thrilling renewal of the Lodge Park Stud Irish EBF Park Express Stakes when getting the better of a three-way battle on what was a thrilling day’s racing.
5,354-1 treble for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning! Normandel lands the Group 3 Park Express Stakes on a memorable season opener for trainer and jockey at @NaasRacecourse
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 24, 2019
It’s not the first time that the pair have started the season in fine form – they’ve got a strong record in the opening juvenile contest for example – and many punters will be sure to catch on rather sharpish.
The most eye-catching effort of the day might have come from a Bolger runner that didn’t win; Feminista, who ran in the second colours of Jackie Bolger behind Value Chain (her first string, trained by Brendan Duke) made some decent late progress into third.
Looking ahead: Normandel was having just her second run for Jim Bolger, and this coming after failing to stay when tried over 1m4f, clearly a trip too far based on the previous form. She may be able to improve yet and we probably haven’t seen the best of her.
“She ran well here at the backend when I only had her for a while after she came from France. She will stay at around 7f or a mile. She won a Listed race in France at 1m2f but I think she’s better at 7 or a mile. She handles that ground well" Jim Bolger, Normandel @NaasRacecourse
— Irishracing.com Live (@IrishRacing365) March 24, 2019
- Winx and you’ll miss her
Death, taxes, and Winx: Australia’s Equine phenomenon Winx has already put her name in history with her 32 wins, but like all good things, her career must come to an end.
Her farewell tour has taken in the Spring Carnival, and she gave a consummate performance in the George Ryder Stakes, always in control even when the three-year-old Brute kicked around the turn, and with her customary turn of foot, she managed to basically inhale that rival in one fell swoop before strolling to another win with cheers of "Winxy, Winxy, Winxy" accompanying her post-race parade.
Only accidents have been able to stop her for a while, and the heavy ground couldn’t get in the way of her latest success which came by an easy three and a quarter-lengths.
Put this into perspective. American Pharoah was in the midst of making Triple Crown history when Winx’s 32 race streak began.She’ll come just short of having 5 Kentucky Derby winners running during her streak. What she’s been able to accomplish is just nothing short of remarkable
— Sean Patrick Nolan (@SPNnation74) March 23, 2019
With only one race to go, it was a surprise to see the debate raging still over what she’s beaten.
Winx traveled the last 200 meters of her race yesterday in 11.20 seconds.
That is rolling, especially when you take into account she wasn’t asked for her best.
It’s still mind boggling that there are people out there that don’t think she can compete with the best in the world.
— Matt Dinerman (@3coltshandicap) March 23, 2019
Hardly her fault the opp is not strong. Bit like it was no fault of Cracksman he mostly beat up on chumps last year. Maybe better concentrating on a champion being kept in work as a 7yo, generating a much needed positive racing story whilst generating $ for charity
— Tim Carroll (@T_J_Carroll) March 22, 2019
By now, one of the great racehorses of recent history seems to scare off all opposition and whilst yours truly has always been a fan of debating the merits of the great horses of history, it feels like the time and the place to do that constructively with Winx has been and gone, and that perhaps we should enjoy the ride. Particularly with moments like this:
‘’SO MANY PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO GIVE THEM HOPE’’ - @HugeBowman explained to @LizzieJelfs the impact @winx_horse has had on the broader community after the brilliant G1 George Ryder Stakes win today @rosehillgardens @atc_races #GoWinx @cwallerracing. pic.twitter.com/QzBCG3aZaN
— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) March 23, 2019
Don’t Worry: When she has her last race (April the 13th, in case you didn’t know), she’ll get top billing.
Food for Thought: “I said to someone [on Saturday] I would love to see her race a horse like Frankel, or whatever the greatest horse has been... I think she could beat whatever that horse may be. And I guess on their terms maybe they could beat her. But they wouldn’t be able to do it for as long as she has done. Had she taken on a Frankel or something early in her career, who knows. She might have beaten him but she wouldn’t be racing [now].” – Chris Waller speaking to Sydney Radio about the longevity of Winx’s career, and the route she's taken
Godolphin took a remarkable 1-2-3 in the Golden Slipper, the most prestigious juvenile contest on the planet, as Kiamichi earned a first Slipper for trainer James Cummings (son of the legendary Bart), beating stablemate Microphone with the Blue Diamond Stakes winner, Lyre, in third.
Amazing to think that, if not for Winx, Godolphin would have won the big four this season - the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate, Melbourne Cup and Golden Slipper. Truly a momentous season for the boys in blue @godolphin #horseracing
— Andrew Hawkins (@AndrewNJHawkins) March 23, 2019
Meanwhile, back in Ireland... Still Standing claimed his fifth victory from just eight career starts with a comprehensive success in the Devoy Stakes at Naas, giving Shane Foley a great start to life as Number 1 for Jessica Harrington. He beat Hazel Bay to second whilst Aidan O’Brien’s one-time Classic contender Amedeo Modigliani – who had been sidelined by injury since winning at the 2017 Galway Festival – needed the run and was a creditable third.
And on Saturday, Jonjo O’Neill Junior, fresh from success at the Cheltenham Festival, was in the headlines once again as he doubled up at Newbury on a valuable card courtesy of Annie Mc and Chic Name. Annie Mc was another notable success for him, taking the Grade 2 EBF & EBA Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle Series Final in great style, bouncing back from a below-par run last time at Exeter to beat Sixty's Belle by eight lengths.
Annie MC wins EBF & TBA Mares' "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle Series Final comfortably with Jonjo O'Neill Jr on board in Noel Fehily's final race live on ITV pic.twitter.com/KRxbo7EfiC
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) March 23, 2019
Further north, Sean Bowen took his strike rate at Kelso to nearly 50% with two fine and differing rides, the first a front-running success on Kupatana in the EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Chase, before later bringing Winston C from the back of the field, having looked beaten, to gain a fighting success in the Bernhard Lighting Rig Handicap Hurdle.
Sean Bowen speaks after a fine ride on Kupatana
"She jumped really well, she's got the ability"
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) March 23, 2019
- Noel One Better
The last word in this week’s column was always going to be reserved for a big mention for Noel Fehily, who ended his riding career in the best possible fashion on Saturday as Get In The Queue ran out a ready winner of the Goffs UK Spring Sale Bumper at Newbury.
That was the perfect end to a brilliant career notable for not only a sensitive and calculated style but also one laden with success at the highest level.
Arguably nowhere was Noel better than at the Cheltenham Festival, where he won the Champion Hurdle twice, firstly aboard Rock On Ruby in 2012, and then again with Buveur d'Air in 2017, although his best ride at the Festival was may have been on Special Tiara in the 2017 Champion Chase, when leading from pillar to post but with such measured efficiency that the charging Fox Norton could be held off in the dying strides.
Delighted to see Noel Fehily bow out with a win on Get In The Queue. One of the best riders we've seen and he'll be greatly missed. His partnership with Silviniaco Conti was particularly wonderful to behold.
— Kitty Trice (@KittyTrice) March 23, 2019
Those were not his only winners at the Festival, however; a quick tactical brain and a deceptively strong finish saw him take wins on Silver Jaro (2008 County Hurdle), Unowhatimeanharry (2016 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle), and Summerville Boy (2018 Supreme Novices' Hurdle), before his shock victory on Eglantine Du Seuil in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle earlier this month.
Fehily had always been known as one of the most talented riders in the weighing room, but being the main beneficiary of a long term Ruby Walsh injury as the jump season was kicking into gear in 2010 really saw his career take off.
What a fabulous rider he has been. Enjoy your final day as a jump jockey, Noel Fehily, and good luck in all your future adventures. pic.twitter.com/sUg2jKM1F9
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 23, 2019
Successes on Master Minded in the Amlin 1965 Chase and Silviniaco Conti in the Coral Hurdle began what would be a string of notable big race successes, with Fehily’s excellent sense of timing and deft handling proving a beautiful like for like match for Ruby Walsh, and a new star was born – one that the whole racing community has enjoyed and appreciated.
From all of us at geegeez.co.uk, wishing you a happy retirement, Noel, and best of luck in whatever comes next for you.
Want to pay tribute to Noel Fehily?
Well Get In The Queue
A fairytale end to a superb career. Proper jockey, proper gent #NoelFehilyDay
— Fergal O’Brien Racing (@FOBRacing) March 23, 2019
This racegoer queuing up to have her racecard signed by the retiring @ndfehily articulates what makes Noel special
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 23, 2019