Monday, we start at Naas. Not our day today Mokhalad got badly hampered in an incident two furlongs out. The incident was deemed so severe by the stewards that Gary Halpin got a one-day suspension for careless riding that caused the interference on Mokhalad. We just have to take it on the chin. It's frustrating however these things happen. Miss Amulet provided Ken Condon with another notable winner when quickening by odds-on favourite Frenetic in the Arqana Irish EBF Marwell Stakes. Investec Derby third Amhran Na Bhfiann had to settle for second on his return to action at Naas as Dermot Weld’s Zawara recorded an impressive victory. Gavin Ryan rode Zawara and completed a double on Bounce The Blues.
Racing at Yarmouth on Monday was abandoned following three races due to concerns over a false patch of ground. At Roscommon, there was a double for Gordon Elliott with Longclaw and Papal Lodge.
Tuesday, we start with the news that the Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate are delighted to announce the purchase of our 7th horse Double Kodiac rated 83 to be trained by Leanne Breen. Double Kodiac was purchased by Leanne Breen at the recent Newmarket sales. The Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate has purchased Double Kodiac outright, with Leanne Breen training the horse. Double Kodiac is a son of the very talented Kodiac, who has a 41% strike rate as a sire. Kodiac has been standing since 2010 so his record as a top-class stallion is well established. This policy of looking for a top-class stallion has served The Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate well. Double Kodiac is already a winner in France, he has also placed four times in five runs in the UK. The standout piece of form from the UK is an excellent second (in a Class 3 event) beaten 1.25 lengths at Newmarket by Fox Champion now rated 103.
However, our own joy at announcing a new horse was shortlived. Our thoughts turned to our friends at Hilltop. The dreadful news came through that crack sprinter Sceptical had died on the gallops. Sceptical was owned by our friends at Hilltop Racing. There are no words we can say that will make it better for the lads. Sceptical was a horse everyone at Galaxy admired as well as enjoyed watching him race. He was just something else, an incredible talent. I recently spent a few hours with James McCauley looking at Hilltops new recruits from the Newmarket sales. It was a lovely few hours we chatted about Sceptical as well as the road ahead all that lay in front of Sceptical. I also had a similar conversation with Jim Gough a few weeks before Royal Ascot. I haven't seen Stephen McCauley for a good while, however, the pride everyone felt in this horse was incredible. The easy narrative is to paint the Sceptical story as a fairytale. A lightning strike a bolt from the blue. It is not quite a true narrative. Of course horses like Sceptical bought for the amount he was bought for don't come around every day. All that being said the Hilltop team work very hard at the sales, this is a result of that hard work that they came to buy Sceptical. Unraced for Godolphin, the four-year-old cost just £2,800 at the sales and proved a real star for Denis Hogan and owners Hilltop Racing. He won four races in a row, including the Listed Woodlands Stakes at Naas, before travelling to Royal Ascot for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, finishing a close third under Frankie Dettori to Hello Youmzain and Dream Of Dreams.
My abiding memory of Sceptical is not the UK races. It is a couple of races at Dundalk he won the last race on the card 21-2-20. A few of the Galaxy gang stayed around to support Sceptical and the Hilltop team. The rain came pouring down but Sceptical bolted up under Colin Keane. Sceptical bolted up again on 6-3-20 at Dundalk again this time by five and a half lengths. It could have been a lot more of a winning margin. Sceptical was equally brilliant at Naas in the Listed Woodlands Stakes. I do feel Sceptical was unlucky at Royal Ascot and Newmarket in the Darley July Cup. I don't feel Dettori did a great job either day, to be honest. I think with a better ride Sceptical could have won one of these races for sure, the Newmarket one was especially frustrating to watch. The Hilltop lads took those races in good grace rightly proud of the horse.
I know what Sceptical meant to The Hilltop team, I cannot begin to imagine how painful it is for all involved. I hope in time that lads can look back with incredible pride on a flame that burned all to briefly however burned very brightly. Magical moments treasured, a journey that was like a comet blazing a trail. Sceptical was the top sprinter in Ireland at the time of his passing he went out as the top sprinter in Ireland, cut down before his prime. This should never be forgotten, he was an incredible talent who had so much to look forward to. The real shame is the stolen future, the destiny unfulfilled, the questions unanswered as well as a happy retirement never enjoyed. Racing a sport we all love so much especially the Hilltop lads has dealt the cruellest possible hand here. Sometimes it is just very tough. It is what makes the great days great. If there was one consolation Sceptical was appreciated by his owners, his trainer and by regular racing folk. Go well Sceptical for you gave much enjoyment to all who were lucky enough to have been associated with you.
Wednesday, we start with Aidan Coleman will be out of action until October having fractured his arm in a fall at Southwell on July 30. Coleman was riding Dieg Man for Neil Mulholland in a handicap chase when falling at the second-last. A “champion jockey in waiting” was the verdict of connections after Hollie Doyle made the perfect start to her new association with Derby-winning owner Imad Al Sagar at Lingfield on Tuesday.
Adam Short will treasure fond memories of the concluding Barrow Handicap Chase at Wexford today as he steered the Philip Rothwell trained 25/1 shot The Broom Squire to overcome form-figures of 'F00P/00PPP' in a hard-fought win, and thus ended his days as a claiming jockey. Anna Bunina registered consecutive wins today at Sligo as the John McConnell trained mare made most of the running to win the Martin Reilly Motors Rated Novice Hurdle under 7lbs claimer Simon Torrens. One bet for the members Nero Rock 620 Sligo (2pts win) 3/1 won.
Thursday, Gary Moore has been fined £750 after being found in breach of Covid-19 requirements at Goodwood last week. At Leopardstown, Nickajack Cave gained a career-best success when taking the Group Three honours in the Bahrain International Ballyroan Stakes. Military Style bounced back from an expensive defeat at Cork when making all in the Japan Racing Association Tyros Stakes. Apprentice Gavin Ryan gained the biggest success of his career so far when steering Shale home in the Frank Conroy Silver Flash Stakes.
Naas Racecourse is looking for members of the public to nominate their lockdown heroes. Anyone who went above and beyond during the lockdown can be nominated. Twenty heroes will be assigned a horse each in the €320,000 Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes.
Friday, a very strange day Hamilton was abandoned due to a waterlogged track. Ben Coen suffered a fractured collarbone in Sligo after his horse Multamis slipped on the bend after the winning post in race four and unseated the jockey. Four horses in total came down at this bend, both during and after the race, leading to the rest of the meeting being abandoned in the interests of safety. Multamis had come in fourth behind Ambitious Approach in this extended mile and a quarter handicap. Dr Jennifer Pugh tweeted: “Ben Coen sustained a fracture of his clavicle (collarbone) in the fourth race at Sligo today and will be sidelined for a short period of time. All other riders are ok.”
Oisin Murphy showed he will not relinquish his champion jockey crown without a fight after taking the riding plaudits with a treble at Sandown on Friday. The reigning champion enhanced his position at the top of the Flat jockeys’ championship table when teaming up with Andrew Balding to secure the near 10-1 three-timer. Mateo Cruz was a second winner on the day for trainer Joseph O'Brien when forging on well in the opening juvenile auction maiden at Tipperary. O'Brien's Zoffany's Delight took the nursery in Sligo earlier in the day.
Saturday, we start at Ascot. Roger Varian dominated at Ascot with a 210-1 four-timer on a day which would usually be the Shergar Cup. The horses were Laneqash, Line Of Departure, Look Closely and Shandoz. There was a winner for Oisin Murphy and Andrew Balding with Chil Chil who was advised (1pt each way) at 4/1. At Haydock, Further top-level assignments await Veracious after the Group One-winning mare made the perfect start to her campaign with victory in the BetVictor British EBF Dick Hern Stakes. Hollie Doyle set the seal on her new association with owner Imad Al Sagar as she steered Extra Elusive to Group Three glory in the BetVictor Rose Of Lancaster Stakes. At Newmarket, Star Of Emaraaty took her career to new heights when springing a 66-1 surprise in the Betway Sweet Solera Stakes.
Sixteen-year-old Sam Ewing rode his first winner at Cork today as the son of prominent point-to-point handler Warren Ewing steered grand type Ardhoomey to win the Doneraile Handicap for trainer Ger Lyons. Trainer Ado McGuinness registered his first flat Listed winner today at Cork as his Galway festival winner Current Option won the Listed Platinum Stakes under in-form jockey Gavin Ryan.
Sunday, Our Syndicate horse Trading Point lined up in the 555 at The Curragh. It is always great to have a runner at The Curragh. However, as everyone knows we are happy to have runners and winners everywhere. He is still our highest-rated horse on 88. Trading Point ran a respectable race at the Galway festival last time out, he did not get a lot of luck in running. This represented a drop-in class today from Galway. We saw Trading Point working earlier this week his work was a high standard, we were very pleased with him. Trading Point was second in this race last year nutted on the line in very frustrating circumstances. Kevin Manning retained the ride what followed was disappointing. Trading Point was never really a factor in the race. Although not getting much look in running again. In the cold light of day, Trading Point has been beaten Seven lengths in the lowest class race he has contested for some time. Trading Point has constantly competed at the top table of the premier handicaps, for the last eighteen months. It is very hard to win these races he has been contesting up to this point. This race was not that, so we have to work hard at it now to get Trading Point back to a level his ability deserves.
Lucky Vega looked a high-class colt in the making as he powered to an impressive victory in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. It was another remarkable day in the training career of Jessica Harrington. Sir Michael Stoute celebrated his first Group-race winner of the season as Regal Reality bounced back to his best with victory in the AJN Steelstock Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury. Owen Burrows appears to have a smart bunch of juveniles on his hands this season and Minzaal could turn out to be the best of them, judging by his impressive victory at Salisbury.