Tuesday, 23 November 2021

5 of the Best: Frankie Dettori Wins at Irish Racecourses

5 of the Best: Frankie Dettori Wins at Irish Racecourses
Lanfranco “Frankie” Dettori has done it all in racing, and then he has come back and done it all over again. It’s now almost a decade since he passed the milestone of 500 Group winners, and he is still going strong. He’s also approaching 300 Group 1 winners, and he has surpassed 3,000 winners overall. The stats are ridiculous, and if you have followed Dettori’s career, you will know that we have not the column space to go through all the Italian’s achievements. 

Of course, his greatest achievement came with that mind-boggling seven wins from seven races at Ascot in 1996. The 25th anniversary of the achievement was celebrated in September of this year. With many sports outlets interviewing Dettori and asking him to relive his memories from that miraculous day. The 25,000-1 odds have made it such a part of betting folklore, and it’s the reason for the creation of the Frankie Dettori Magic Seven casino game by Playtech. While the odds of that day will never be repeated, Dettori’s career has played out in such a way that the Ascot Magnificent Seven doesn’t define him: That says it all, really. 

Dettori loves to come to Ireland, too. And as you might imagine, he has come away with plenty of the spoils whenever he visits the racecourse of the Emerald Isle. Below we look at some of his best Irish wins:

Balanchine – Irish Derby 1994 (The Curragh

Dettori has a storied relationship with Godolphin, whose international racing operation really got underway in 1994. The Epsom Oaks was landed (Godolphin’s first Classic win) in June of that year, and then Frankie and the filly went to Ireland to land the Derby a few weeks later. It was Dettori’s biggest win in Ireland at the time, but he would come back for more. 

Daylami – Irish Champion Stakes 1999 (Leopardstown) 

Dettori has won the Irish Champion Stakes six times (just one behind Michael Kinane’s record of seven, if you were wondering). He has done so on some wonderful horses, including Golden Horn and Fantastic Light. However, the pick of the bunch has to be the stunning ride on Daylami in 1999. Daylami would also give Dettori his first of two Tattersalls Gold Cups a year earlier. 

Dubawi – Irish 2,000 Guineas 2005 (The Curragh) 

Another dual winner in Ireland, Dubawi won the National Stakes in 2004 and the 2,000 Guineas a year later with Dettori in the saddle. He was a superb horse, and this was a cracking race with Dubawi finishing impressively to hold off co-favourite Oratorio. Dubawi has gone on to have a significant stud career, siring winners of several Group 1 races.

Wicklow Brave – Irish St Leger 2016 (The Curragh) 

We had to mention this one because it is one of the rare partnerships between two legends of racing, Dettori and Willie Mullins. The latter is, of course, known for his success in jumps racing, but he worked with Dettori here to land Group 1 success in the St Leger. The trio of Wicklow Brave, Mullins and Dettori would try to replicate that success later in the Melbourne Cup, but they fell short of the standard in a frustrating race.

5 of the Best: Frankie Dettori Wins at Irish Racecourses
Enable – Irish Champion Stakes 2017 (Leopardstown) 

Is Enable the best horse on this list? Wins in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe (twice), King George (thrice) and Epsom Oaks, as well as being twice named European Horse of the Year would underline that argument. By the time Enable came to take the Irish Oaks, she was just really getting started on a stellar career. More importantly, though, it was a sign of a second coming for Dettori, who was given a new lease of life through a partnership with John Gosden.

Photo: DH

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Irish Racecourses: Navan

Navan Racecourse, a.k.a. Proudstown Park is situated in the townland of Proudstown, approximately three miles north of Navan town centre, in County Meath, in eastern Ireland. Navan stages 17 Flat and National Hunt fixtures throughout the year but is probably better known for the latter. 

Notable races ‘over the sticks’ at Navan include the Grade Two Boyne Hurdle, run in February, the Grade Two Fortria Chase and the Grade Three Monksfield Novice Hurdle, both run in November, and the Grade Two Navan Novice Hurdle – which, between 2004 and 2014, was a Grade One contest – run in December. On the Flat, Group Three Vintage Crop Stakes staged in late April or early May, is the most valuable race of the season, worth €60,000 in added prize money. Named in honour of the first European-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup, the Vintage Crop Stakes is a recognised trial for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot; in recent years, Yeats, Fame And Glory, Leading Light and Order Of St. George, all trained by Aidan O’Brien, have won both races. 

The steeplechase course at Navan is a left-handed, undulating, rectangle, approximately a mile and a half in extent, with nine, fairly stiff fences to a circuit and a run-in of approximately one furlong. The fourth-last fence, an open ditch, is directly followed by the turn into the home straight, which features three more plain fences. The hurdle course is laid out inside the steeplechase track and features seven hurdles to a circuit. The course is essentially galloping in character, but the uphill climb from the final bend, which is three-and-a-half furlongs from the winning post, provides one of the stiffest finishes in the country. In the depths of winter, soft or heavy going can make conditions very testing indeed, so Navan is no place for horses with doubtful stamina. 

The flat course, like the steeplechase course, offers no hiding place in terms of stamina, but similarly offers plenty of room for manoeuvre and is renowned as one of the fairest in Ireland. Sprint races are run on a straight course, which joins the round course at the top of the home straight, but horses can win from any position on either track and little, or no, draw bias exists. 

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Irish Racecourses: Dundalk

Dundalk [Dalgan's fort] is a town of County Louth, Ireland. It sits on the Castletown River, flowing into the Dundalk Bay. It is near the border of Northern Ireland between Dublin and Belfast in the province of Leinster. 

Horse Racing and Greyhound Racing is held at Dundalk Stadium. This is Ireland's first all-weather race track opening in August 2007. It cost 35 Million euros. 

Local transport 

Dundalk is located 52 miles North of Dublin. The racecourse is just one and half miles from the town centre of Dundalk. 

Bishop Court's airport is about forty miles away. 

Flat racecourse:

Dundalk is a left-handed course covering ten furlongs with a run in of two and a half furlongs with an up hill finish. A low draw is an advantage over 5 - 6f.   

National Hunt racecourse:

The turf course was closed in 2001. The racecourse dated back to 1889.

Contact details:

Dundalk Racecourse 
County Louth

Tel: 353 42 937 1271 
Fax: 353 42 937 1271 

Website: http://www.dundalkstadium.com/


Saturday, 20 March 2021

Irish Racecourses: Thurles

Thurles Racecourse is situated less than a mile from Thurles town centre, in County Tipperary, in the Shannon Region of Ireland. Thurles is, in fact, one of three racecourses in County Tipperary, but unlike Clonmel and Tipperary, a.k.a. Limerick Junction exclusively stages National Hunt racing. Thurles also has the distinction of being the only privately-owned racecourse in Ireland, having been in the Molony Family for at least four generations since 1911. 

Thurles Racecourse stages eight National Hunt fixtures between October and March. Notable races include the Grade Two Analog's Daughter Mares Novice Chase, run over 2 miles 4½ furlongs in January, and the Grade Two Kinloch Brae Chase, run over the same distance in late January or early February. In recent years, two winners of the Kinloch Brae Chase, Don Cossack in 2016 and Sizing John in 2017, have gone on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. 

The steeplechase course at Thurles is a right-handed, undulating oval, approximately a mile and a quarter in circumference, with seven, moderately stiff, fences to a circuit and a run-in of approximately one furlong. The course rises steeply throughout the back straight but falls, equally steeply, towards the final bend and the two-furlong home straight, in which the final two fences are situated. On the whole, the course is sharp in character, favouring horses that race on, or close to the pace, although those who do too much in the back straight may pay for their exertions later on. 

Above anything else, Thurles is renowned for its extraordinarily free draining soil which, even in the depths of the Irish winter, rarely becomes very testing and is almost always raceable. Thurles has received almost universal praise for its ground conditions, with trainers safe in the knowledge that they will not overface young, inexperienced horses, while the steep hill in the back straight provides useful insight for those heading to the Cheltenham Festival.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Irish Racecourses: Punchestown

Punchestown Racecourse is situated on the outskirts of Naas, the county town of Co. Kildare, in the eastern part of the Irish Midlands. Punchestown Racecourse is, in fact, less than three-and-a-half miles from Naas Racecourse but, unlike its near neighbour, exclusively stages National Hunt racing. Punchestown hosts 17 National Hunt fixtures between April and December, with notable races including the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle, the highlight of the two-day Winter Festival, in November, and the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Chase, in December. 

 However, Punchestown is synonymous with the Irish National Hunt Festival, commonly known as the Punchestown Festival, which is staged over five days in late April and early May and brings the Irish National Hunt season to a close. The Punchestown Festival is one of the highlights of the Irish sporting calendar and features no fewer than 12 Grade One contests, including the Champion Chase, Champion Stayers’ Hurdle, Punchestown Gold Cup and Punchestown Champion Hurdle, not to mention the fascinating La Touche Cup, run over 4 miles 1½ furlongs on the only cross-country ‘banks’ course in Ireland. 

The main steeplechase course at Punchestown is a right-handed, undulating oval, approximately two miles in circumference, with eleven, moderately stiff, but fair, fences to a circuit and a run-in of approximately one furlong. The course is galloping in character, with a steady climb throughout the final five furlongs, which affords staying types an opportunity to find their stride. 

The hurdle course, laid out inside the main steeplechase course, is only a mile-and-three-quarters in circumference and, consequently, much sharper in character. The bend at the end of the back straight is particularly sharp and, on the whole, the course favours horses that race handily. 

The cross-country course consists of a twisting, turning circuit, three miles around, with left-handed and right-handed bends. Horses must negotiate a series of idiosyncratic obstacles, including banks, fences and walls, before returning to the racecourse proper and a single, regulation birch fence between them and the winning post.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Irish Racecourses: Fairyhouse

Fairyhouse Racecourse, billed as “Home of the Irish Grand National”, is situated near the town of Ratoath in Co. Meath, in eastern Ireland, approximately 14 miles north of Dublin. Fairyhouse stages Flat and National Hunt fixtures – a total of twenty – all year ‘round, but is better known for the latter, in particular, the Easter Festival, which features two of the most important races in the Irish National Hunt calendar, the Ryanair Gold Cup and the Boylesports Irish Grand National. 

The Irish Grand National, run over 3 miles 5 furlongs, was inaugurated in 1870 and, although a handicap, its roll of honour since World War II includes such luminaries as Arkle, Flyingbolt and Desert Orchid, as well as Aintree Grand National winners Rhyme ‘N’ Reason, Bobbyjo and Numbersixvalverde. Elsewhere in the National Hunt calendar, the two-day Winter Festival staged in early December, has also risen to prominence in recent years. Day two of the Winter Festival features three Grade One contests, the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and Drinmore Novice Chase. 

The steeplechase course at Fairyhouse is a right-handed square, a mile and three quarters in length, with eleven, unforgiving fences to a circuit. Notwithstanding the stiffness of the fences, the course is wide, galloping in nature and does not, generally, favour one type of horse over another. Heading away from the stands, the course rises, before falling in the back straight and rising again in the home straight, which includes a run-in of about a furlong. The undulations are gentle, though, so the course does not present a searching test of stamina and, aside from usual luck in running, horses do not, necessarily, need to be in the right place at the right time to win. 

On the flat, Fairyhouse plays host to just one Pattern race, the Group Three Brownstown Stakes, run over 7 furlongs, in July each year. Formerly staged at Leopardstown, the Brownston Stakes was transferred to Fairyhouse in 2009 and, since then, its roll of honour has included the likes of Emulous Fiesolana, who both went on to win the Group One Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. 

Unsurprisingly, the flat course shares many of the characteristics of the steeplechase course and is, on the whole, fair to all types of horses. However, horses that like to race on, or close, to the pace typically fare best at Fairyhouse; hold-up horses, especially those drawn low, on the far side, in races over six or seven furlongs, may find themselves short of room next to the rail in the home straight, in which case luck in running is important.

A Day Out at Fairyhouse Racecourse

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Irish Racecourse: Naas

Naas Racecourse is situated on the outskirts of Naas, the county town of Co. Kildare, in the Mid-East Region of Ireland, less than half a mile east of the town centre and approximately 23 miles southwest of Dublin. Still known, rather unfairly, as the “Punters’ Graveyard” – a myth no doubt perpetuated by the proximity of a cemetery to the home straight – Naas stages 15 Flat and National Hunt fixtures throughout the year. 

The highlight of the National Hunt calendar at Naas is the Slaney Novice Hurdle, run over 2 miles 4 furlongs in January. The race was upgraded to Grade One status in 2015, since when it has been sponsored by Lawlor’s Hotel, but had previously been won by subsequent Cheltenham Festival winners, Gold Cygent and Mikael d’Haguenet, not to mention 2016 Grand National winner Rule The World. The 2019 winner, Batteloverdoyen, is currently a top-priced 5/1 second favourite for the Ballymore Properties’ Novice Hurdle, the same race won by Mikael d’Haguenet in 2009. 

On the Flat, the Group Three Blue Wind Stakes, run over 1 mile 2 furlongs and open to fillies and mares aged three years and upwards, is the seasonal highlight. Occasionally, the Blue Wind Stakes serves as a trial for the Oaks at Epsom the following month and in the past has been won by the likes of Banimpire and Pleascach, both trained by Jim Bolger and ridden by Kevin Manning, who won the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot and Irish 1,000 Guineas and Yorkshire Oaks, respectively. 

The steeplechase course at Naas is a left-handed oval, approximately a mile and a half in circumference, with eight, fairly stiff fences to a circuit and a run-in of just over a furlong. Despite its dubious nickname, Naas is a wide, galloping track, with a stiff, uphill finish, which suits long-striding, staying types, but is nonetheless renowned for its fairness to all types of horse. The home straight, which features two plain fences, is over half a mile long but, despite the stiff finish, horses held up off the pace may still find it difficult to make up the required ground on the leaders. 

On the Flat, a chute at the top of the home straight allows sprint races, over five or six furlongs, to be run on a straight course which, in recent years, has been levelled in the first three furlongs or so to create a more even surface. Races over seven furlongs and a mile also start on a chute, this time at the top of the home straight, and a run around a left-hand bend. Even so, the draw plays little part in such races, except on soft ground, when jockeys tend to make a beeline for the stands’ side rail in the home straight, so a high draw is advantageous.