Monday, March 11, 2013

I left my wallet at Cheltenham

On the eve of the Cheltenham Festival here's a podcast broadcast on RTE Countrywide last week of my visit to trainer Tony Martin at his yard in Summerhill County Meath.

Like all good trainers Tony really treats horses as individuals and gives a good appraisal of one of his best chasers Bog Warrior and what qualities have made him into special horse, despite going through difficult times. Tony has seven horses bound for Cheltenham but Bog Warrior will only run if the ground is soft or deep.This is because some horses have action (type of movement of their lower leg) which suits different type of terrain. So the snow this week and very cold temperatures may not suit him.

I also met another of his Cheltenham stars, Beneficient - a bright chestnut gelding who nibbled my hand throughout our chat outside his stable. He was so sweet I wanted to put him in the back of the car and take him home. I also asked Tony about Michael O'Leary, head of Ryanair and one of the biggest owners of National Hunt horses in Ireland. Always surrounded by controversy O'Leary is very much liked in the racing sector. As Tony says, "he's a paying client like anybody else". He has seven horses with Tony, including Bog Warrior. Whatever you may think of him, it's deep pockets like O'Leary's which keep many yards going.
Tony Martin trainer (right)

Cheltenham is a very special festival for Irish horses and many Irish rural people. National hunt horses are often bred by small farmers and breeders whose dream is to for the animal to make it to the Cheltenham festival. The hugs and joy and whooping that take place when an Irish horse comes in is something that everyone who loves horses should experience once in a lifetime. It really is a special place. There's not many like it where it's common to see grown men cry. Both joy and pain are in plentiful supply around horses and especially in racing, When I can afford it I'll be back to Cheltenham like a shot believe me.

Have a listen to the piece below which is followed by Leo Powell - editor of The Irish Field with his top tips for the festival. And if you have any long priced "sure things" please send them my way!!rii=9%3A20168216%3A1523%3A09%2D03%2D2013%3A

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