WITH no racetrack, no big training establishments and a very limited number of breeders of Thoroughbreds, Donegal is not renowned for producing top class racehorses, but the grit, determination and quality of its jockeys cannot be overestimated.
In a week that saw Dylan Browne McMonagle land the Group 3 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Blue Wind Stakes on the Joseph O’Brien trained ‘Tranquil Lady’, beating Aidan O’Brien’s hot favourite ‘Lily Pond’ in the process, we saw another Donegal man land his first victory under rules.
Brandon Wilkie is apprenticed to Tim Easterby in England and steered his master’s ‘Parys Angel’ to a convincing win in the seven-furlong Apprentice Handicap at Catterick. Having started riding under rules just this season, Brandon has been building valuable experience and was more than capable of riding out the winner after what had been quite a messy race.
Like those that have come before him, Brandon is a graduate of the local horse and pony racing circuit, where young jockeys gain invaluable experience of genuine race riding long before they would be allowed on a Turf Club track. Unfortunately, the Brexit-induced insurance problems that are plaguing the country at the moment have hit the horse and pony racing circuit, with no insurer currently willing to quote the committee for a policy. The impact that the loss of local racing would have on the up and coming race riders should not be underestimated and all those involved are working hard to try and find a solution.
Martin Harley is continuing on his winning streak in England, with a victory on the John and Thady Gosden trained ‘Judith’, beating the yard’s other runner, ‘Wonderful Times’, by a short length in the process, while Conor Orr picked up yet another winner for trainer Lorna Fowler when ‘Naughtinesse’ overcame some dodgy jumping techniques to land the Mares Maiden Hurdle in Tipperary. The Rachel Blackmore ridden ‘Music Of Tara’ was favourite at the off, but had to settle for second place as the determined Donegal man was not for giving up.
Not to be outdone by his fellow countrymen, Luke McAteer has been notching up the winners in style, with an impressive victory on board ‘Furnace Creek’ at Cork on Friday, followed up by a hard won place on the winners podium with ‘Timourid’ in a soggy Roscommon on Monday.
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