GAA final replay not so champion for racing
There’s nothing the Gaelic Athletic Association likes better than a drawn All-Ireland Final. It means a replay, and another 82,000 returning to Dublin’s Croke Park stumping up more money on admission, programmes and refreshments. It’s even better when the teams which have to it all over again are the mighty Dublin and Kerry, who drew Saturday’s thrilling football final.
It’s an estimated €5m jackpot for the GAA.
But it’s not so good news for racing.
The replay is on 14 September, the same day Leopardstown hosts the first day of Irish Champions’ Weekend. Not only that, but the game is due to get underway at 6.00 in the evening. Much the same time as the off of the Group 1 Champions Stakes.
Both events are being broadcast on Irish TV by RTE, who wouldn’t have wanted a clash.
There was really only one option – Leopardstown has brought forward the start of racing. And all credit to them for making a quick decision.
However, racing’s media coverage will still be squeezed, and post-match reporting will also impact day two of the Champions weekend at the Curragh. Monday’s Irish Independent devoted 16 pages to reporting the drawn final. On Sunday week that’ll be at the expense of the Irish St Leger and three other Group 1 races.
Indeed, reflecting on the draw, the paper headlined an editorial: “Encore of sporting feast will be welcomed by all.”
Leopardstown and the Curragh might beg to differ.
But at least on Sunday the Kildare track wont be up against the Gaelic football. The first edition of the Dublin v Kerry game got over 75% of the TV audience share.
Without the earlier start, racing would have been obliterated.
Ladbroke’s Christmas cheer
Ladbroke’s new deal with Jockey Club Racecourses to sponsor Kempton’s two-day Christmas Festival fixture, including the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, is for a five-year term.
For a racecourse, with its future in question, it’s pleasing to note that the sponsorship runs until 2023.
That of course may mean nothing if the bulldozers move in to start the proposed redevelopment of the site for housing. But, one would hope that we can at least enjoy racing at Kempton for the duration of the Ladbroke deal.
Talking of sponsorship, Betway backed the two day’s of Sandown’s Summer Celebration meeting at the weekend, which featured the Group 3 Solario Stakes, won in decent style by Positive under a good ride from Adam Kirby.
However, the sponsors might have been a little miffed when Sandown’s TV screens switched early to Sky Sports Racing to show a race at Chester. A full, one-minute commercial for Ladbrokes was duly broadcast to one-and-all at the Surrey track.
Keeping racegoers informed
During York’s Ebor festival a jockey suffered a nasty fall. After the race, the York crowd were told that if the racecourse had any news of the rider’s condition, they’d let people know. Later in the afternoon racegoers were told that no serious injury had been sustained.
At Sandown on Friday Hayley Turner was involved in a nasty incident before the start of a race, when her horse was kicked by another runner and she took a heavy fall. She stayed on the ground for some time, got up and went back down on the ground and rolled up into a ball.
Long after the race was run, she was led away to an ambulance. Many racegoers would have welcomed news of her well-being. But nothing was forthcoming.
It was reported 24 hours later that she was sore but would be back riding at the earliest opportunity. Those at Sandown would have been pleased to have heard the news.
An empty horsebox leaves Brighton
It’s one the saddest sights on a racecourse when a horse suffers an injury. It happened at Brighton when a runner broke a hind leg as the field entered the final furlong.
The injured horse pulled up yards before the winning line. It was in full view of the stands.
Whilst it was upsetting to see, a vet administered an injection, likely a sedative, less than two minutes after the horse came to a stop. Within another minute or so, the horse ambulance was alongside and screens had been erected.
People did what was required just five minutes or so after the injury was sustained.
An empty horsebox left Brighton and connections, not least the groom, had a wretched journey home.
But the injured horse experienced virtually immediate attention. It might have had a longer racing career and it might have retired to the pastures. Or it could have suffered a similar injury running around a field, and veterinarian attention might not have been as quickly forthcoming.
A much-loved working animal lost its life, but it fared a lot better than many other horses because racing’s equine welfare is second to none.