Dundalk: The Year So Far
With sport, like everything else, having been badly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, it was good to receive the welcome news that horseracing would resume in Ireland, under the strictest protocols, on June 8th.
It is a welcome step in the right direction and, hopefully, all will work out well.
During the enforced absence, we took the opportunity to have a look back at what has happened so far this year at Dundalk Stadium, where the track is in the process of being relaid and where they are set to race next on Sunday July 12th.
Trainers and Jockeys
Joseph O’Brien, who has been the leading calendar-year trainer at Dundalk in the last two years, has got off to a great start this year in a bid to make it three-in-a-row.
Joseph sent out 36 winners at Dundalk in 2018, which is a record, and 23 winners last year. He has already had 15 winners (from 68 runners) this year, followed by Ado McGuinness (6 from 40), Denis Hogan (6 from 65), John McConnell (5 from 39) and Ger Lyons (4 from 7).
Joseph has had 74 winners at Dundalk since January 2018.
For the jockeys, it is Declan McDonogh (9 winners from 40 rides) who leads the way in 2020, followed by Ronan Whelan (8 from 45), Colin Keane (6 from 33), Gavin Ryan (6 from 41) and Billy Lee (5 from 31).
James McAuley leads the owners’ table (four winners from 40 runners).
Effect of the Draw
At Dundalk, the general rule over the years has been that a high draw in handicaps over distances of 5f to one mile (with a full field of 14) is slightly disadvantageous. The winning stall numbers this year in handicaps at Dundalk are as follows:
5 furlongs – 5 – 2 – 5 – 3 – 3 – 11
6 furlongs – 6 – 15 – 4 – 16 – 3 – 7 – 6
7 furlongs – 14 – 7 – 12 – 11 – 1 – 15 – 9 – 7 – 10 – 13 – 15 – 5
One mile – 7 – 11 – 12 – 12 – 1 – 2 – 4 – 1 – 1 – 11 – 12 – 3 – 11
Star Performers in 2020
Top of the list here have to be Sceptical and Crossfirehurricane.
The Denis Hogan-trained Sceptical returned for the season on February 21st and ran out a comfortable winner of a six-furlong handicap from a rating of 90. He then returned to Dundalk on March 6th and ran out an even-more impressive winner of a five-furlong handicap from a rating of 101.
His rating is now 114, which makes him the highest-rated sprinter in Ireland, something made more remarkable by the fact that he cost owner James McAuley just £2,800 at the Goffs Horses In Training & Store Horses Sale last August.
Bred by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation, Sceptical is by Exceed And Excel out of Jealous Again, a very fast filly trained in the USA by Wesley Ward that won the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2009.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained Crossfirehurricane in now unbeaten in three runs and is very much on an upward curve of improvement.
Having won his maiden at Limerick in June, he reappeared at Dundalk on February 7th and ran out a convincing winner over seven furlongs. He improved markedly on that run when stepping up in trip to a mile, also at Dundalk, on February 28 when landing the €75,000 Woodford Reserve Patton, a Listed Race and a qualifier for the Kentucky Derby.
The plan after the Patton Stakes was to head for a Classic Trial although that, of course, has had to be shelved. When racing resumes, his plans are most likely to include running in a Group race and, given his good attitude towards racing, further improvement is likely for the Scott C Heider-owned son of Kitten’s Joy.
Other horses to mention are Ado McGuinness’s Bowerman, who won twice at Dundalk before being narrowly beaten in a Listed Race at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in France last time, and Henry de Bromhead’s Aerclub, who is now unbeaten in two runs, both at Dundalk, and will surely next be seen in a stakes race.
News/Next Scheduled Fixtures
Dundalk’s next fixture is due to take place on Sunday July 12th followed by Saturday August 15th before the Winter Series begins on Friday September 18th.
Work on the installation of a completely new Polytrack surface at Dundalk was set to be completed by June 15th.
On March 3rd, Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, announced that a second all-weather track would be built in Ireland, in Tipperary, which, he hopes, will be “in place and up and running by 2022”.
Below is the list of sires that have had winners this year at Dundalk.
(Stats cover the period from Jan 1st to March 20th, inclusive)
The track’s leading sire in terms of number of individual winners is Dark Angel, with five winners of seven races in total.
Camelot is next in the list with four winners, which have each won one race apiece.
Nine of this year’s 95 races at Dundalk have been won by horses racing in first-time headgear (as indicated within the following list).
The list, which is alphabetical, consists of the sire followed by the name of the winner, its age, the type of race won and, where applicable, the type of headgear worn by that horse.
Acclamation – Abby Hatcher (3yo, 7f fillies’ maiden)
Alhebayeb – Trueba (4yo, 7f h’cap, first-time visor)
Approve – Miracles In May (5yo, 8f h’cap)
Arcano – Arcanears (6f h’cap) – Poet’s Pride (5yo, 7f h’cap)
Australia – Mythologic (3yo, 8f h’cap)
Azamour – Jerandme (6yo, 2m h’cap)
Bahamian Bounty – Lapilli (7yo, 5f h’cap)
Bated Breath – Major Power (5yo, 7f h’cap) – Major Power (5yo, 7f h’cap) – Major Power (5yo, 7f h’cap)
Cacique – Alhajjaj (7yo, 10.5f h’cap)
Camacho – Pegasus Bridge (4yo, 7f h’cap, first-time cheek-pieces)
Camelot – Guinevere (4yo, 12f h’cap) – Moll (3yo, mile maiden) – Mr Mooj (3yo, 8f maiden) – Juliet Rose (3yo, 10.5f maiden)
Cape Cross – Mulzamm (8yo, 7f h’cap)
Cappella Sansevero – Corvus Glaive (3yo, 7f claimer, first-time blinkers)
Captain Gerrard – Fit For Function (7yo, 6f h’cap)
Captain Marvelous – Tio Esteban (5yo, 12f h’cap, first-time hood)
Casamento – Adnap (5yo, 8f h’cap) – Adnap (5yo, 8f h’cap)
Champs Elysees – Kerandi (3yo, 8f maiden)
Charm Spirit – Will Be King (4yo, 10.5f claimer) – Aerclub (3yo, 8f race)
Dabirsim – Nordic Passage (5yo, 8f h’cap)
Dark Angel – Dark Vader (3yo, 6f race) – Annie B (4yo, 8f f&m maiden) – San Andreas (4yo, 8f h’cap) – Billyfairplay (6yo, 6f claimer) – San Andreas (4yo, 7f h’cap) – Kinch (4yo, 8f h’cap) – Dark Vader (3yo, 6f race)
Dawn Approach – Cautious Approach (5yo, 12f h’cap)
Declaration Of War – War Hero (5yo, 7f h’cap) – Narynkol (5yo, 12f maiden, first-time blinkers)
Dragon Pulse – Jon Ess (6yo, 10.5f h’cap, first-time visor) – Everyhouronthehour (4yo, 8f h’cap) – Jon Ess (6yo, 12f h’cap)
Dutch Art – Bowerman (6yo, 8f) – Bowerman (6yo, 10.5f race)
Epaulette – China’s Storm (3yo, 10.5f maiden)
Exceed And Excel – Sceptical (4yo, 6f h’cap) – Sceptical (4yo, 5f h’cap)
Excelebration – Reverberation (5yo, 8f h’cap) – Getgo (6yo, 10.5f h’cap)
Fastnet Rock – Rock On Aidan (5yo, 10.5f h’cap)
Footstepsinthesand – Flower Garland (3yo, 8f fillies’ maiden) – Bucky Larson (5yo, 8f h’cap)
Fountain Of Youth – Kokura (3yo, 7f maiden)
Frankel – King’s Vow (4yo, 2m h’cap) – King’s Vow (4yo, 2mile race)
Gutaifan – Funny Little Ways (3yo, 7f h’cap)
Haatef – Danz Gift (9yo, 5f h’cap)
Heeraat – Eglish (3yo, 7f h’cap) – Eglish (3yo, 6f h’cap)
Holy Emperor – Outside Inside (5yo, 7f Rated Race)
Hot Streak – Calidus Mirabilis (3yo, 8f h’cap)
Intense Focus – Saga Bolton (8yo, 10.5f claimer)
Invincible Spirit – Mutadaawel (5yo, 8f h’cap)
Kendargent – Ela Katrina (4yo, 10.5f maiden)
Kingman – Golden Valour (4yo, 10.5f h’cap)
Kitten’s Joy – Crossfirehurricane (3yo, 7f race, first-time tongue-tie) – Crossfirehurricane (3yo, 8f Listed Race)
Kodiac – Beleaguerment (4yo, 7f h’cap) – Tony The Gent (7yo, 7f claimer) – Tony The Gent (7yo, 7f claimer)
Lope De Vega – Muzbid (6yo, 12f Rated Race)
Magician – Magi Gal (4yo, 10.5f h’cap)
Mayson – May Remain (5yo, 5f h’cap) – Bellick (5yo, 6f h’cap)
Morpheus – Happaugue (4yo, 10.5f h’cap) – Morph Speed (4yo, 12f h’cap) – Happaugue (4yo, 10.5f h’cap)
Myboycharlie – Lightning Charlie (8yo, 6f h’cap, first-time eye-shield) – Lightning Charlie (8yo, 6f h’cap)
No Nay Never – Parkers Hill (4yo, 8f h’cap) – Never Before (3yo, 7f maiden) – No Trouble (4yo, 12f h’cap)
Pivotal – Red Cymbal (5yo, 5f h’cap)
Power – Mecklenburg (3yo, 6f maiden)
Raven’s Pass – Iron Blue (5yo, 10.5f h’cap, first-time cheek-pieces)
Requinto – Lequinto (3yo, 6f h’cap)
Rip Van Winkle – Lady Of Luxury (4yo, 12f h’cap)
Royal Applause – Munfallet (9yo, 8f h’cap)
Sayif – Sayesse (6yo, 12f h’cap)
Scat Daddy – Phoenix Open (4yo, 8f claimer)
Sea The Stars – Sheberghan (5yo, 10.5f h’cap)
So You Think – Wild Shot (6yo, 12f h’cap)
Starspangledbanner – American Lady (3yo, 5f maiden)
Tamayuz – Plum Perfect (4yo, 8f maiden)
Thewayyouare – Beauchamp Bagenal (5yo, 7f maiden)
War Front – United Front (3yo, 6f maiden)
Zebedee – Zippity (4yo, 5f h’cap)