The wonderful scenery at Killarney racecourse
PICTURE: Caroline Norris (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Ashforth 6:01PM 13 JUL 2016
It’s a terrible thing when you have to apologise for your own countrymen but British trainers have let us down badly. They’ve let themselves down, let their owners down, let the sport down and let their country down. As Terry Thomas would have said – “What an absolute shower!”
Yes, it’s a shameful thing when the splendid four-day Killarney festival takes place without a single British runner. I can only apologise on behalf of roughly 560 trainers who have behaved so abominably and hope that at least one of them will have the decency to put things right at Killarney’s four-day August meeting.
It’s one thing to discover that your runner in a sprint at Beverley, drawn 15 of 15, is sadly unable to attend but there’s no excuse for missing the wonderful view of mountains and lakes that provide a unique backdrop to Killarney racecourse. Nor to be absent from the parade ring where viewers could watch you being interviewed by the excellent Gary O’Brien. Santa Anita’s beautiful, too, but there aren’t any jump races there and it’s a long way from Lambourn. British trainers have only themselves to blame for missing out.
You wouldn’t see Willie Mullins miss Killarney, even though he was hopeless there on the first two days when he only won with one of his three runners. It’s true that Mullins trains in Ireland but if he trained in Lambourn I’m sure he’d still make the journey.
Henry de Bromhead may have a strange name but at least he knows how to approach the Festival properly. On Thursday he’s got four runners in the Beginners Chase (4.30) which is almost as many as Aidan O’Brien sometimes has in Flat races.
Eric Wheeler is excused attendance at Killarney on the grounds that he probably hasn’t got a suitable candidate and is now 78. Even so, Wheeler does have a runner at Leicester – Links Bar Marbella in the seller (2.20).
There is surely no other sport in the world which has as many participants aged over 70 as horseracing. Trainers are like Ol’ Man River, they just keep rolling along. Wheeler, who used to be Stan Mellor’s head lad, has been training for almost 30 years. He hasn’t often reached double figures for the number of winners in a year but Green Dollar and Dancing Mystery did Wheeler proud.
Green Dollar, who didn’t start racing until he was five, won 13 times, including the 1992 Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon. Dancing Mystery was even better, a wonderful horse who raced for 13 years, from 1996 to 2008, and won 25 races from 198 starts. His first win was over six furlongs and the rest over five, with Steve Carson partnering him for 21 of Dancing Mystery’s 25 wins. Rated 104 at his best, Dancing Mystery won a string of decent handicaps and over £270,000 in prize money.
Links Bar Marbella isn’t likely to win the seller at Leicester but Mecca’s Missus might, or might not.