The Pat Smullen Column: Riding Out Is The Best Therapy

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Pat Smullen | Healy Racing Photography

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Now that I’m back riding out again I’m delighted to be able to continue my association with Moyglare Stud in an advisory role. It’s wonderful still to be involved with such a great operation as Moyglare. Eva Bucher-Haefner has helped me so much through my career, as did her dad before her, and we’ve had some great success together on the track. She’s been hugely supportive of my family and me throughout the last year and a half, and now she has given me an opportunity to stay involved with the operation. It’s something that I am really looking forward to doing.

I’ll be helping the management team of Malachy Ryan and Fiona Craig and my main role will be still to ride the horses’ work and help Dermot Weld in assessing them at home. My side of things will be very much connected to the racing. Malachy and Fiona are obviously very experienced on the breeding side and I hope I will be a help to them in giving my opinion on the horses, but at the end of the day, Eva is the boss and Dermot is the trainer, and they will make the final decisions regarding the horses.

I’ve always enjoyed giving feedback on the horses and I hope I may also be helpful to the jockeys that will be riding them on the race track because over the years I’ve got to know the families so well, their traits and their characteristics.

The great thing is that Eva has given me the opportunity to do this on my own terms. I’m back riding out at Dermot Weld’s twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. The workload is not too strenuous at the moment, which is important as I continue my recovery back to full strength. Eva is adamant that I don’t over-exert myself at the moment and I can’t be thankful enough to her for that.

It’s great to be back with the lads every week. It’s hard to stop doing something that you’ve done all your life, and have enjoyed doing all your life. To be back in the swing of things in the yard and hearing all the banter that goes along with that, the enjoyment of it all is therapy in itself.

Happy breeders
Closer to home we were delighted to have any winner for our farm at York over the weekend with Escobar (Ire), who is a son of one of my favourite horses I’ve ever ridden, Famous Name (GB). It’s lovely for a small farm like ours to see a horse win on a big day and it’s only really now that I appreciate what small breeders do, and the enjoyment you can have watching a horse win like that.  We have his full-brother in the field here at home and I’m starting to realise the work that goes into breeding horses, especially on a small scale.

Escobar is a hardy horse and David O’Meara has done a very good job with him. He looked like he was lost there for a little while but David has brought him back and freshened him up and he’s put up two very good performances in a week having been second in a good race at Sandown and then winning at York. Hopefully he will have a lot more success with him between now and the end of the season. Our friend neighbour Derek Veitch of Ringfort Stud will be consigning his brother for us at Fairyhouse in September, so hopefully Escobar will help his brother along between now and sales time.

Unfortunately we lost their dam this year at the age of 21 but we still have her daughter Bobbi Grace (Ire) (Big Bad Bob), who is a winner and stakes-placed, and she has her first foal on the ground, who I am happy to say is a really lovely filly by my Derby winner Harzand (Ire). Thankfully we still have the bloodlines to carry on with.

Ten Up
After two of the best 2-year-olds of last year had struggled a little in the earlier part of the season it has been great to see first Too Darn Hot (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and then Ten Sovereigns (Ire) (No Nay Never) come back to the level of form that they had always promised. People were quick to write off Ten Sovereigns but Aidan O’Brien is very skilled and patient when it comes to bringing these horses along. He had asked him to stretch out over a mile and obviously that didn’t work. Then I think it takes them time to learn how to sprint, and that was evident at Ascot, but he came back to show his true colours in the July Cup in what I thought was a devastating performance. It was also a really good day for his sire No Nay Never, who did so well with his first 2-year-olds last year and has another good one on his hands in the G2 Superlative Stakes winner Mystery Power (Ire).

There’s probably still more that needs to be done with regard to the sprinting programme for 3-year-olds. The initiative of launching the Commonwealth Cup has been hugely appreciated by the industry because it’s very difficult for the 3-year-old sprinters to take on the older horses in the early part of the season. I think perhaps there needs to be a little bit more focus on the first half of the year rather than the second half.  As the horses mature as the year goes on I think they are capable of taking on the older sprinters in the autumn, but in the earlier stages of the season I think they’re probably needs to be some more opportunities for those potential group horses in the sprint division.  Admittedly, the first five home in the July Cup this year where all 3-year-olds, but that is unusual. At this time of year it is amazing how just a couple of weeks can make a big difference in a horse.

The Ballydoyle bandwagon rolled on to ParisLongchamp and Japan (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) put up a good performance, which was perhaps a little bit workmanlike. I don’t think Ryan Moore went for absolutely everything and I like to see a horse who can get through and win without over-exerting himself.  It looks like there’s plenty more to come from Japan. I love the way he races in a nice, relaxed manner and he seems to have a really good mind on him. His attitude should give him ample opportunity to have longevity in his career and I think he’s a horse who will play a big part in all those middle-distance races from now until the end of the season. I like those horses like Sea The Stars (Ire) who just do enough to win—that’s what will stand him in good stead as the battles get harder as the year goes on. He’s shown an awful lot in a short period of time and I think there’s only an upside to this horse. He should improve as he heads into an autumn campaign.

 

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