Ashforth's Angles: Gowran card deserves appreciation

Gowran Park - Flat

Gowran Park: prize-money puts the day’s English offering in the shade

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (  

 By David Ashforth 6:01PM 17 OCT 2016 

IGNORANCE is rarely bliss but if I examine the card at Gowran Park, there’ll be rather a lot of mine on display. Not that it’ll make much difference; Kempton is beyond my comprehension, too.

As the value of sterling falls it’s important to get to grips with racing in Ireland because if it falls much further that’s where a lot of British racing might take place. Prize-money at Gowran Park already knocks Tuesday’s English offering into the proverbial cocked hat. Taking a euro to be worth 90 pence, Gowran’s Flat meeting offers average win prize-money of £6,207 compared with Newcastle’s £3,598,

Yarmouth’s £3,344 and Kempton’s measly £2,810. Exeter’s jump meeting offers a more respectable average of £4,222, including races worth £7,596 and £6,498 to the winners.

The day’s most valuable race is the opening juvenile maiden at Gowran Park, worth £8,579 to the winner. Kempton’s most valuable race, a 0-85 handicap, offers less to the winner – £4,690 – than the least valuable race at Gowran Park, a 45-65 handicap worth £4,981. There are far fewer meetings in Ireland, etc, etc, but it’s still pretty shocking.

Less shocking but regrettable is the fact that I know absolutely nothing about trainer David Harry Kelly, who runs Deise Days in that juvenile maiden (2.05).

Unfortunately, Kelly isn’t the only Irish trainer I know nothing about. On the other hand, I recognise the names of Aidan O’Brien and Jim Bolger, who supply four and two runners respectively in the ten-runner maiden. They once changed the handicap system to cope with Arkle’s supremacy and I can’t helping thinking that an automatic extra stone or two on the back of O’Brien’s runners wouldn’t come amiss.

There are plenty of Irish jockeys I know nothing about, too. Robson Aguiar, for instance, who rode his first winner in Ireland on Shes Ranger at Dundalk on Friday and rides Imprimatur (4.05).

Oh, there’s Shane B Kelly, who rode 43 winners in Britain from 2010 to 2012 but has struggled since returning to Ireland, not helped by a lengthy ban. Hopefully he’ll get back on track.

Superstar relatives

And hopefully Dalmatia, having been beaten a nose by the thoughtless Rashaan over course and distance in August will laugh at the 4lb rise in her rating, relish the softer conditions and rise to her breeding, being by Cape Cross out of a half-sister to the mighty Dalakhani and Daylami.

If she does then Dalmatia (5.05) will not only win €7,380 but will have been trained and ridden by names I know – Eddie Harty and Kevin Manning.

It wouldn’t be right to ignore Rock Of Leon, even though Nigel Hawke’s five-year-old is running at Exeter (3.10). After a chequered career, including three successive unseatings over fences, Rock Of Leon won a selling hurdle at Worcester last month, was sold for 4,600 guineas and promptly won a beginners’ chase and £4,873 over Tuesday’s course and distance.

Tom Bellamy gave Rock Of Leon a particularly sensible, confidence-building ride but this is a much more competitive race. Interesting, though.

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