‘Footy’ time is nearly here again

I would recommend a few days at Ballybrit for Galway’s Summer Festival to anyone as racegoers there know how to party!

I would recommend a few days at Ballybrit for Galway’s Summer Festival to anyone as racegoers there know how to party!


It seemed to me that Dermot Weld appeared in the winner’s enclosure on average every two races and he finished the week with a record 17 successes, an incredible six more than his own personal record set last year. He is clearly an absolute wizard at lining horses up for this extravaganza and was crowned leading trainer at the fixture for a 27th time – wow!

In other racing news the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh, where we are the official bookmaking partner, will be moving to a late afternoon Saturday card next year.

I’m really happy about this as it should help betting turnover and there’s the possibility that we might get more RTE coverage as the racing will no longer be clashing with other popular sports.

In addition the crowd should be up as well which bodes well for our on-course betting shop.

Speaking of The Curragh this week’s marquee fixture on Sunday hosts the feature Keeneland Phoenix Stakes which should present us with some more clues ahead of next year’s Classics.

I like the look of English raider Lilbourne Lad who was entered at the second stage and impressed me when beating Tough As Nails over course and distance in the Railway Stakes in June.

The selection triumphed by three-quarters of a length that day which is more than our 2,000 Guineas favourite Power beat him in the Marble Hill Stakes at the same track the previous month, albeit over 5f which would probably be plenty short enough for the winner.

Richard Hannon junior, whose father Richard trains my fancy, told my sidekick: “He’s in very good form and is flying. He’ll go for the Phoenix before taking in the Gimcrack or the Morny.

“Any ground is fine for him and although he might get further, this season we’ll be keeping him to six furlongs. He’s a real professional and one of the most straightforward two-year-olds we’ve ever had.”

The Keeneland Debutante Stakes on the same card could go the way of Weld’s Yellow Rosebud, who made an eye catching debut when staying on well under Pat Smullen to master Rigoletta in a Leopardstown fillies’ maiden in June.

Before that performance Weld had described her as a very nice filly who looks particularly nice and he was even more enthusiastic afterwards saying: “She showed a lot of talent there and will improve.”

He immediately nominated this race as her next target and he has deliberately given her a break between that victory and this step up in class.

Weld has won this race four times since 1993, most recently courtesy of Campfire Glow in 2007, and my fancy has a couple of top-class entries, including in the Moyglare Stud Stakes back at The Curragh later in the month. It wouldn’t surprise me if she prevailed on Sunday and then returned to the same venue on the 28th.

It won’t be long before your screens are filled with the footy again and I was speaking to a fella from England at Galway and he reckons Bristol Rovers are a good bet (currently 10-1) to win Npower League 2.

I’m going to take his word for it as despite being relegated last season, Rovers have got a new manager in Paul Buckle and have only lost one of their pre-season friendlies, which was certainly no disgrace as it was against Championship side Reading.

My source was particularly impressed by the way The Gas beat another Championship outfit Burnley 2-0 and they start their campaign away to Wimbledon on Saturday.


Saturday 12.45pm onwards Bristol Rovers to win Npower League 2

Sunday The Curragh 3.30pm Yellow Rosebud

Sunday The Curragh 4pm Lilbourne Lad

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