Weekend Racing Blog - Owners back on track in Ireland

This will be the last weekend, for now, that Irish owners have to watch their horses race from afar, as HRI (Horse Racing Ireland) have made the decision to allow owners to attend racecourses from Monday 21st September.

It has been a long wait for owners, who are absolutely vital to the sport, particularly at this time of uncertainty – we need the people who fund the sport to be able to enjoy it to its fullest.

The news won’t be much of a tonic for owners with runners at Navan and Gowran Park on Saturday for their pair of competitive cards of racing, or indeed for an excellent Sunday card in Listowel.

But after this weekend, Irish owners will finally be able to see their runners in the flesh and – importantly for racecourse income – be able to enjoy a meal and a drink too.

Roger Varian Secures Rising Talent Dawson for Spanish City

Ray Dawson lit up the ITV Racing cameras at Doncaster last Friday after a power-packed victory aboard Tranchee.

This jockey is going places and he was keen to stress the importance of mental health awareness in the sport after the win. He may be young, but Dawson has a wise head on his talented shoulders and he can develop into a star in the sport for the years to come.

On Saturday, top trainer Roger Varian has Ray Dawson booked to ride his Ayr Gold Cup  contender Spanish City (3:40pm on ITV Racing), just showing that the top Newmarket trainers are starting to recognise the wisdom in utilising Dawson in the big races.

Spanish City has been doing much of his racing at Ascot this season and brings some valuable form to the table. However, he is in the grip of the handicapper a bit, which is why Ray Dawson’s 5lb claim is a valuable asset.

For a seven-year-old, Spanish City doesn’t have too many miles on the clock and he may well have had this target mapped out all season.

He’s an interesting contender and it would be no surprise to see the up and coming Ray Dawson in the ITV Racing limelight once again on Saturday afternoon. In any case, he is definitely a jockey to watch for the foreseeable future.

We’re due a Mill Reef Surprise at Newbury

Curiously, the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury has seen no winner go off at bigger than 4/1 for the last ten years. Usually in the big Group races, you’d see a minor shock or two thrown in – but not in this race.

There are of course some talented juveniles making up the early market so it could be business as usual as one of the fancied runners wins yet again in 2020 – but we are due an upset.

One horse that could create it is Alkumait for Marcus Tregoning. Tregoning was unfortunate to lose his star miler, Mohaather, to injury a few weeks back and it would be some glimpse of hope for a future star in his stable if this son of Showcasing could build on his recent Goodwood victory.

And Finally…

The sport has been in mourning this week following the sad loss of Pat Smullen to cancer after a long battle with the illness.

Smullen was an incredible jockey and an extraordinary man and his legacy will live on for decades to come. He was a standard bearer for both the top riders in Ireland today and the rising crop of youngsters coming behind them.

A magician in the saddle, we’ll finish this post by suggesting a trip down memory lane to the day Pat Smullen lit up the Epsom Downs with victory aboard Harzand.