The Racing Week That Was 14/6/20


Monday, we start at Naas for the resumption of Irish Racing. The Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate was in action on day one in the 430 at Naas with our youngest Horse Parkers Hill and our youngest trainer Leanne Breen. Parkers Hill was purchased by ourselves in February this year. He has had just the one run to date finishing fifth at Dundalk. Parkers Hill has been gelded since that run, he has done well since. Leanne Breen has become an important part of our team. It was fitting Leanne and Parkers Hill led the team out in what has been a Winter of evolution for The Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate. We are no strangers to success at Naas it has been very good to us especially in 2019. We are well versed on what's needed at Naas. We believed Parkers Hill had those attributes this has been his target since the fixtures came out.  The negative a wide draw was the potential issue, we were very wide in 16. A wide draw in six furlongs at Naas has been a real kiss of death. We knew this and could do nothing about it. The positives were we had Shane Foley who has a great record for us in four rides before this Shane has never been out of the frame for us. We have a great relationship with Shane and were delighted to have him. Parkers Hill had been doing well at home, his work had been good. We knew Parkers Hill would handle the fast ground, he has pace and stays a bit further than this. If he could overcome what was the disadvantage of the high draw. Parkers Hill in our eyes was set to run a good race.

What followed was the stuff of dreams. It was a marvellous day for the whole Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate. Parkers Hill was an emphatic winner on the day bolting up winning by two and three parts of a length from Fit For Function. Parkers Hill travelled powerfully without the headgear, many of the things Leanne has been working on with Parkers Hill were evident in this race. This was a competitive race, Parkers Hill took it apart. The victory opens up lots of opportunities for Parkers Hill, Leanne and ourselves. Leanne Breen did an incredible job with Parkers Hill to get him ready for today. As did Aili Leah who is a tremendous asset and an excellent rider. Leanne said Parkers would run well and boy did he. The Handicapper will have his say and of course, Parkers Hill will get a hike in the weights. Leanne Breen gave a wonderful interview to Racing TV afterwards, we were very proud of her. It captured our relationship to date very well.

Leanne Breen is a young trainer who we have a lot of confidence in. As I said already it has been a winter of evolution for the Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate. Leanne Breen is a central part of that evolution.  Leanne Breen impressed John and me from our very first meeting. We didn't do business straight away, however, we kept in touch, eventually, an opportunity presented itself with Lottieloveheart who Leanne bought out of a claimer in Dundalk.  Leanne offered Lottieloveheart to ourselves and it went from that point. Leanne's hunger, ambition and determination are more than a match for our own. Some people may see Leanne's youth as a disadvantage we see it as the exact opposite. Leanne and Aili are working tirelessly on our behalf. They are ultra-professional logging everything the horses are doing, a constant flow of information. They are the furthest away from our homes geographically but it never feels like that. Anyone who has visited Clooneavin Racing stables located in Warrenpoint has got a warm welcome. It's an easy place to be and a wonderful facility. We always talk racing over a coffee. Leanne has tremendous knowledge which she imparts easily.   Due to the COVID crisis, we haven't been for a few months however we are looking forward to spending more time in Clooneavin

For all the team at Galaxy, this was an incredibly proud day. Parkers Hill was also part of our Winter of evolution he is our youngest horse, we sat down as a group and decided to look for younger horses during the Winter to support our current flagship horses. We also decided to diversify our trainer base having been hit by a virus last season when all our squad had to recover at the same time. We said goodbye to Alfirak (a horse who meant so much to us as a group) to a new and wonderful life in retirement with Ciara Thomas. We bought Lottieloveheart and Parkers Hill both of whom are four years of age. We hired Leanne Breen.  We hired John McConnell. We have moved Stanhope to John McConnell from Damian EnglishJohn is working away well with Stanhope, making a positive start. We are looking forward to seeing what John can do in the time ahead.  Damian English went into the season with our two highest-rated horses (Trading Point and Mokhalad) obviously handicap marks fluctuate. This was a huge amount of change to take on for any group in less than six months. That said the only constant in life is that of change. We will continue to look for opportunities. We work very hard as a unit, we have to it is what is required to grow the syndicate.

For myself and John when we founded the Syndicate these are the days we dreamed of. Naas has proved to be a lucky track for us, with Parkers Hill we can look forward to the summer ahead. There will be setbacks along the way for the syndicate we will enjoy this moment while looking to the future. We have reached Ten winners with five different horses, since December 2017. We are thankful for it all.  We have enjoyed every one of our winners, they are all cherished. We have had tremendous success with Damian English and the team at Grougha with nine winners. This is never forgotten.

However, it has to be said having hired Leanne Breen before she had trained a winner. This was a day that meant a lot to everyone, to give Leanne her first winner on the turf. Many of you seemed to have backed Parkers Hill as always the kind words and messages mean a lot to us. It is great to see friends, family, racing friends and regular punters who back horses share our success while being happy for us as a group. We will make a plan with Leanne later in the week for Parkers Hill.

Finally, we must pay tribute to our, fellow syndicate members we got through the COVID crisis together. The group is a wonderful group to be part of. All our horses stayed in training. Those decisions take courage and belief in uncertain times. We have faced it together as we will face the road ahead together. There will highs and lows in the weeks and months ahead, we know the territory. We have a baptism of fire with lots of runners coming quickly together in June. It won't all go well all the time, it just can't it is the nature of this sport. I cannot think of a group of people I would rather face the road ahead with. Hopefully, we get a little luck along the way. It was certainly a birthday your correspondent will never forget!!

Naas on Monday belonged to Shane Foley. An astounding 13,218/1 four-timer was completed by Shane Foley in the concluding Irish Stallion Farms EBF (C & G) Maiden at Naas aboard Masteroffoxhounds. Taking our excitement with Parkers Hill out of the day. The brilliant performance of the day belonged to Sceptical. This horse's magical journey through the ranks continued. Sceptical bought by the team at Hilltop unbelievable bargain for his 2,800-pound purchase in August 2019. Sceptical travelled brilliantly through the race. The result in truth was never in doubt as Sceptical cleared away for a three-length win. The most baffling thing was that Sceptical returned a mind-boggling 3/1 on the day. He was a 2.5pts win bet for our members on the day. This also confirms the underlying bias punters and bookmakers have against Dundalk form. There is a view because you win at Dundalk the form is not of a good standard. This could not be further from the truth.

I had said during the winter I had a very high opinion of  Sceptical, he keeps delivering over and over again. Sceptical is the highest-rated sprinter in Ireland, domestically he should clean up through the summer. The team at Hilltop are keen to try their luck at Royal Ascot correctly in my view. Sceptical will have two options the King’s Stand and the Diamond Jubilee. If it was up to me I would go for the Diamond Jubilee with Sceptical. We know the lads at Hilltop well, James McAuley, Jim Gough and Stephen McAuley. They are hard-working people who love racing. This is an incredible time in all their lives. The lads have been good to us since we came into the sport.

Another factor is the Hilltop lads do a lot of good stuff behind the scenes helping others out. From sharing/lending equipment and facilities, through to hosting youngsters who are interested in racing. Showing them how to clean horses, giving them a sit on horses educating them. This all happens quietly behind the scenes. I was lucky enough to have a chat with Jim Gough about Sceptical earlier this year. To see the pride on Jim's face while talking about Sceptical was fantastic. The Hilltop lads have had big-money offers for Sceptical they have turned them down. This is the essence of sport and competition, daring to dream of competing at one of the worlds most special racing occasions Royal Ascot. Sceptical although the potential as well as the temptation to be painted as a pure fairytale story. It is not quite the narrative, the story of Sceptical is a result of hard yards worked and turning over rocks at the sales. Whatever way the cards fall, the day Sceptical runs at Royal Ascot will be really exciting. All at Galaxy will be cheering for Sceptical, Jim Gough, James & Stephen McCauley. 


Tuesday, we start at Leopardstown. Aidan O’Brien’s rich vein of form since racing’s resumption continued apace at Leopardstown on Tuesday. Winning the first four races on the card. The centrepiece was Cormorant who made all to give Aidan O’Brien another victory in the Derrinstown Derby Trial at Leopardstown. The Ballydoyle trainer has dominated the Group Three contest and this was his 13th winner of the 10-furlong feature since 1998. Newmarket trainer Tom Clover continued his fine start to the season with his first-ever double at Haydock on Tuesday. The horses were Rogue Assasin and Celsius.

Away from the track. It was announced the Dante Stakes and Musidora Stakes will be run at York on July 9 this year. Horse Racing Ireland Chairman, Nicky Hartery, says that owners are a hugely important part of the industry. Even though they cannot see their horses in action in the flesh as racing is behind closed doors at present, HRI is hopeful that owners can return to the racecourse shortly. Tom Hogan has paid tribute to Gordon Lord Byron after his stable star died suddenly during routine exercise on the gallops on Tuesday morning. One of the real fairytale stories of the last few years, the globetrotting gelding won Group Ones in France, Britain and Australia. Our thoughts are with all the connections, Gordon Lord Byron.


WednesdayMegan Nicholls was seen to great effect when riding a double on Oleg and Christopher Wood at Pontefract. Both horses are trained by her father, 11-times champion National Hunt trainer Paul. Jessica Harrington’s horses have hit the ground running since racing resumed in Ireland on Monday and the Moone yard bagged a big-race double at Navan on Wednesday. The horses were Silence Please and Ancient SpiritShane Foley continued his fine start to the season with a double-winning onboard Ancient Spirit. The second leg of the Foley double saw Blastomagic touch off the Leanne Breen trained Ticks The Boxes by a short head.  Away from the track, it has been confirmed that Frankie Dettori has been booked to ride exciting sprinter Sceptical at Royal Ascot. 


Thursday, we start at Gowran. The Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate went into the day still on a high after Parkers Hills brilliant win on Monday. We welcomed back to the action Mokhalad. Our captain had tried his utmost to ride to our rescue in Naas on 23-3-20 before lockdown. Mokhalad banged his head badly leaving the stalls sustaining a nasty cut and he was almost certainly was badly dazed early in the race at Naas. It was a heroic effort from Mokhalad to get back into the contest as a fast-finishing third. Mokhalad heading to Gowran had already attempted two goes at Gowran it hadn't gone well either day at Gowran previously.  Even as we achieved a great milestone earlier this week with our tenth win (five different horses). The founding group of The Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate all pulled the chairs a bit closer to the TV to get right behind Mokhalad. The horse we respect so much, our leader. Every day he runs is important to us. He has been with us every step of the way on this journey. We had a worry as well as a doubt going into the race that Gowran might not be Mokhalad's track. There is no doubt now. This was a disaster from start to finish.

It is safe to say The Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate got brought back down to earth with a bump. Mokhalad was well and truly beaten. The punt on Mokhalad was nothing to do with us so there was some consolation in that at least!! Given his record at Gowran, it was very strange he was so well backed. Mokhalad had a poor record at Gowran going into this race it is even worse nowMokhalad ran no race at all. It was his worst performance for a long time. It was a hard watch to see Mokhalad such a consistent horse struggling from the outset.  He will not race at Gowran againMokhalad was post race normal. We will get him checked over fully by our vet. The temptation is, of course, to throw the toys out of the pram after a performance as below par as this. We have been around the block a few times, so we know this is part of it. The fact is Mokhalad has won for us five times, winning over €70,000 in the process while climbing to a rating of 86 at one point. Damian English has got him back on track after below-par runs before. 

Today is a prime example of what makes the great days great. We will look to get Mokhalad back to a track where he has run well before. Despite yesterdays reversal, it has been a hugely positive week overall. We have a horse to look forward to in Parkers Hill.  We have plenty of bullets to fire in the rest of June in Lottieloveheart, Trading Point, Stanhope and of course Mokhalad. There is plenty to look forward to in June and beyond. We know from Mokhalad's run at Naas in March his ability is very much still intact. I saw Mokhalad the week before Thursday's race at Gowran I was happy with him. Mokhalad was showing plenty of enthusiasm.  There is every chance we will see Mokhalad again in June if ground conditions allow. Mokhalad we hope will bounce back you don't get to where he has brought us to without a few setbacks. The next run will tell us a fair bit. A line through today and move on.

Shona Mea brought up a Gowran double for Jessica Harrington and Shane Foley to keep up their blinding level of form Half-an-hour on from their success with Bella Brazil. It was good news for our members Bella Brazil advised (1pt each way) 13/2 (rule 4 deduction 15%). Away from the track. Far Above has been retired after sustaining an injury when winning the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket last Saturday.


Friday, we start at The Curragh. Ballydoyle registered a 1-2 in the opening Tally-Ho Stud Irish EBF Maiden at the Curragh today with taking winner Admiral Nelson likely to fly to England next week for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. Galileo Chrome, a son of Australia, was trainer Joseph O'Brien's first winner post-lockdown. Crossfirehurricane maintained his remarkable unbeaten record with a fourth win in the Group 3 Coolmore Ten Sovereigns Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh today, completing doubles on the day for trainer Joseph O’Brien and jockey Shane Crosse. The feature race saw Siskin overcame a troubled passage to ultimately power to victory in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh. This was a top-class performance  Siskin had to overcome a lot of trouble in running. It was a marvellous achievement for Ger Lyons and Colin Keane.

Ger Lyons stated after “This means everything, it means 30 years hard graft for everybody. To win a Guineas was always my number one and hopefully, it’s the first of many.”He added, “I’m delighted with the support we are getting from owners and the quality has increased year on year.“That was hard work and full credit to Colin Keane. He was out there on his own today against a football team and he and the horse got it right. The horse is a legend and bailed him out.

“You don’t get a Guineas handed to you and they both stood up when it was needed. If there was a kink in that horse then he wasn’t going to go through that gap.“Colin is the best there is at the minute. He’s only a kid and he’s going to keep improving.“I also want to thank Khalid Abdullah who is watching in Paris I’m sure. They are the ultimate breeders.“I was worried about this horse’s trip around February and March but when we went into lockdown then I was confident that the trip wasn’t an issue. If we were a sprinter then we were in trouble because we weren’t quick enough.

“He’s a very easy horse to train and no question he’s the best I’ve trained.“We’ll probably go to Goodwood next for the Sussex but I want to keep Colin on him and hopefully, the 14 days (quarantine) will be gone by then. We are skipping Ascot.“We’ll have a chat about it but that was the plan providing he was good enough today.“I know he gets the mile and I wouldn’t draw a line through ten furlongs at the moment.”

Bowerman captured the Irish Lincoln for Adrian McGuinness and Ronan Whelan at the Curragh. Congratulations to our winning jockey Stephen Mooney who looks after Bowerman and rides him out every day.


Saturday, we start at the CurraghPeaceful provided Aidan O’Brien with another Classic victory when running out an impressive winner of the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas. Runner-up Fancy Blue represented Aidan O'Brien's son and rookie trainer Donnacha O'Brien and ran what could be considered an excellent prep race for an Irish Oaks by staying on strongly to nab second place close home.

O'Brien senior was also responsible for third-placed So Wonderful while the fourth-placed filly New York Girl is in the care of Joseph O'Brien. The win was Aidan O'Brien's ninth in the race while Heffernan was notching a similarly impressive fourth win. Peaceful is a daughter of wonder-sire Galileo who was himself making history in the race by siring his 85th Group 1 winner. In the modern era of big foal crops, today's top-level win moves Galileo ahead of deceased Danehill as the winning-most Group 1 sire, with 85 wins, since the introduction of the European pattern in 1971. Lancaster House resumed winning ways with an all-the-way success in the Coolmore Calyx Gladness Stakes at the Curragh.

Lazuli made all of the running to claim a cosy victory in the Unibet Scurry Stakes at Sandown. Jockey William Buick was one of three to claim a treble as Sandown hosted racing for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic. Century Dream gave the new training partnership of Ed and Simon Crisford a landmark success for their new venture with a second victory in the MansionBet’s Beaten By A Head Diomed Stakes at Newbury.


Sunday, we start at LeopardstownNapa Valley dominated his rivals on debut in the mile maiden for three-year-old colts and geldings for Aidan O'Brien.  Heliac for Ger Lyons and Colin Keane gave the duo a double at Leopardstown. The four-year-old filly showed improvement to score in Listed company in the Noblesse Stakes and followed in the hooves of stablemate Nickajack Cave who took the Listed Savel Beg. There was a treble for Colin Keane Athlumney Hall was the final leg of the treble in the Leopardstown Handicap over a mile. Heliac was advised to our members 1pt each-way at 4/1.

At Doncaster, Red Verdon looked a class apart from his rivals when returning to winning ways in the Betway Grand Cup Stakes. There cannot be many more popular horses in the north than El Astronaute and John Quinn’s sprinter began his sixth season of racing with his 13th career success in the Betway Achilles Stakes