Monday, it was Naas for the opening day of the Irish Flat season. Jim Bolger will be hoping Poetic Flare can enjoy just a fraction of the success of his sire Dawn Approach, as he followed in his footsteps by winning the opening race of the Irish Flat season. Sir Dragonet could only finish second on his comeback behind impressive winner Numerian in the Devoy Stakes. Ger Lyons enjoyed a one-three in the Lodge Park Stud Irish EBF Park Express Stakes at Naas, with Lemista taking Group Three honours on the way to what could be even better things.
Of course, all the above races were important, however from a selfish point of view. It was the return of our king Mokhalad that was in the front of our minds. With the way the world is now, we needed a performance from Mokhalad and we got one. We could not be at Naas to support Mokhalad (due to owners being banned), but we all individually gathered around TVs, Phones, and Laptops to support Mokhalad as he raced in Naas at 300. It was almost an emotional experience for us all as Mokhalad has never before today not had one of us with him at the races. Everywhere he is we want to be he is our leader, our captain, our standard-bearer we never want him going into battle alone. We are however very grateful to all involved for the opportunity to race behind closed doors. There are plenty of folk having a really hard time right now. We know how lucky we are to have a horse like Mokhalad. We also know how lucky we are to have the hope that owning such a horse brings. Mokhalad owes us absolutely nothing, in fact, we owe him absolutely everything for the relative success, we have achieved in horse racing too date. Mokhalad has never let us down once in his career to date.
The race itself did not go smoothly for Mokhalad. A day of social distancing from our beloved Mokhalad it was. However, there was nothing distant about the pride we felt in Mokhalad post-race. A disaster of a start which saw Mokhalad headbutt the starting stalls as he anticipated the gates opening. Mokhalad sustained a cut to his chin and a nasty surprise. Well inside the final two furlongs Mokhalad found himself in a very unpromising position. As always Mokhalad engaged his natural ability, determination and will to win charging home for an excellent third place in the end. Mokhalad made up a huge amount of ground inside the final furlong. If racing stays going we will look to turn Mokhalad out again next week. Mokhalad is an amazing horse who gives us everything he has the whole time. We are very grateful to all who made it possible for Mokhalad to race yesterday. Also congratulations to all the team at Grougha who produced Mokhalad in brilliant order. Whatever happens from here on in we will protect Mokhalad and our other horses with everything we have as the Coronavirus crisis goes on. We will do whatever it takes.
Tuesday, Clonmel was the only meeting. Bachasson for Willie Mullins bounced back to winning ways in the feature event on what proved to be the final day’s racing in Ireland for at least several weeks at Clonmel.
Racing in Ireland will not take place until at least April 19 following an announcement from the Irish Government. The sport had been continuing to stage meetings behind closed doors since March 13, as countries around the world try to limit the spread of coronavirus. This is the right decision no doubt in my mind. There is so much at stake for the whole country. When things improve at least Horse Racing in Ireland has demonstrated we can stage Horse Racing behind closed doors. We can only hope for improvement and hope all those near and dear to us make it through the other side of this. This crisis has taken off at a speed scarcely comprehendible.