The industry was put on a good footing too, thanks in no small measure to one of the most important changes in Irish racing, instigated by a legendary figure, Joe McGrath.
A member of the first Irish Free State Dail and a cabinet Minister, he left politics to concentrate on his brainchild, the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes, from in the art and science of training racehorses and took it to a new level.
It shouldn’t be underestimated how extraordinary it was at the time for Derby winners to consecutive seasons, 1963-65.
Based on the Curragh, the centre of flat horse training in Ireland, he concentrated primarily on Flat horses from the start and was especially 12 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way the hard work and investment by some immensely skilled horsemen, most notably Coolmore Stud.
The latter’s resident Sadler’s Wells was the outstanding stallion of modern times, being Champion Sire in the UK and Ireland on no fewer than 14 occasions, thus breaking the record of the legendary foundation stallion St Simon.
His deceased former studmate Danehill took over the Champion Sire mantle from him in latter years as well as dominating the Australian racing scene. Aerial view of Coolmore Stud betting and built the foundations for the current regulatory body that runs racing now, Horse Racing Ireland.
McGrath also, along with the other shareholders, sold Leopardstown racecourse to the Racing Board for a nominal price to ensure that racing continued at the famous course. Coolmore Stud Through the sixties and seventies the racing and breeding industries in Ireland were starting to prosper.
This is due in no small part to the fact that, in the last three decades, some of the best stallions in the world have stood in Ireland thanks to Racing Dynasties – Dreapers, Taaffes, Mullins, Walshes, Carberrys & Moores… Of course the Cheltenham National Hunt Racing Festival is a special place to both English and Irish horsemen alike, and there have been two defining moments there for Ireland that fall into the category of “Where were you when this happened?” The first was Arkle’s breathtaking victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1964 and the second was Dawn Run’s brave win in the same race in 1986.
Both horses’ wins had a deeper significance too because their connections have established deep family associations with racing that are still thriving today.
Arkle (the greatest Steeplechaser ever) was trained by Tom Dreaper whose son Jim is also a successful trainer today and he was ridden by Pat Taaffe whose son Tom was himself a top-class jockey and is now a successful trainer.
Dawn Run was trained by Paddy Mullins whose sons Willie, Tony and Tom are now top trainers and whose grandsons Emmet, Patrick and Danny are all fine jockeys.
This exemplifies another great strength that Irish racing possesses: namely great racing families and continuity of horsemanship through the generations.
The Walsh, Carberry and Moore racing families are also great examples of this. c h a p t e r — TURF CLUB The Turf Club is the racing regulatory body for horse racing in Ireland, responsible for maintaining the integrity of the sport in this country since its inception in 1790.
Incorporating the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee, it is responsible for both flat and national hunt racing, including the point-to-point circuit.
A private body responsible for enforcing racing’s rules, it comprises members elected for their knowledge and experience of racing, in both a sporting and business sense.
On the track, between three and five stewards police the rules.
So when you hear an announcement that there’s a stewards’ inquiry, it means that something that has transpired during a race is being investigated. c h a p t e r 3 INDUSTRY BODIES Racing Academy & Centre of Education: RACE offers a host of courses for people interested in pursuing a career in the equine world, ranging from jockeys, stable staff, trainers or farriers.
The 30-acre site on the Curragh boasts all-weather gallops, an indoor schooling arena, horse simulators, an integrated training centre, sports analysis software, classrooms and single room accommodation. Irish Racehorse Trainers Association: The IRTA has represented licensed racehorse trainers in Ireland since its foundation in 1950 by some of the most revered figures in Irish racing, including Vincent O’Brien, Cecil Brabazon, Darby Rogers and Dan Moore.
There are approximately 430 members at present, with the Association’s collective voice helping to improve trainers’ input into the way racing is run in Ireland and to address the major issues concerning them. 18 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way Association of Irish Racehorse Owners: The AIRO was set up to promote and protect the interests of racehorse owners and has been officially recognised as the representative body of racehorse owners.
Amongst its goals are to ensure that the level of prize money is at least maintained and, where possible, increased; to work with HRI to obtain more opportunities for horses; and to improve facilities for owners at tracks.
Irish Jockeys Association: The IJA represents licensed jockeys in Ireland, championing the improvement in facilities around the country for the men and women who coax and cajole the horses towards the winning post.
It also funds the Irish Jockeys Trust, a charity that helps current or former jockeys that have fallen upon hard times through no fault of their own. KEY INDUSTRY STATISTICS • Horse racing and breeding supports more than 22,000 jobs mainly in rural Ireland. • There are 26 racecourses in Ireland, which is more per head of population than anywhere else in the world. • There are 29,289 stallions, mares and foals in Ireland, this includes 271 stallions, 18,851 mares and 10,167 foals. • Ireland is the 3rd largest producer of thoroughbred foals in the world (following USA and Australia). • There are 11,363 racehorses in Training. • Racing is a popular past time in Ireland with over 1.24m people going through the turnstiles each year. • Almost 70,000 overseas visitors each year attend at least one race meeting during their trip to Ireland. Statistics from the 2009 HRI Factbook and the Dukes Report c h a p t e r 3 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way
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