Ballinrobe ready for heatwave conditions and has Monday evening action to itself

Racing round-up: Blackbeard leads O’Brien 1-2 in Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly

Ballinrobe officials say they face a “whole different scenario” to the hugely disrupted British racing scene and heatwave conditions will have no impact on its Monday evening fixture.

The Co Mayo track is going to be the focus of racing attention as it has the Monday evening slot to itself.

With temperatures expected to reach 40 degrees in parts of England, a handful of fixtures there have been called off in the next two days and Monday’s Cartmel card has been pushed forward to a noon start to avoid the worst of the heat.

Ayr in Scotland goes ahead as normal with an afternoon fixture starting at 1.50.


Temperatures in Ireland are forecast to reach a peak of 32 degrees in places which is significantly lower than across the Irish Sea.

“They are getting 40 degrees over there. It’s a whole different scenario altogether,” said Ballinrobe’s manager, John Flannelly, on Sunday.

No special measures are being put in place for the Ballinrobe action which starts at 5.35.

“It’s not a major problem because we were in a same situation last year in our two day (meeting) where we had high temperatures and we coped with it fine.

“We will have plenty water for, as they say, man and beast alike!

“We’re not racing until evening time so we’re fine. We’ve seen this coming since 10 days ago and we adjust as we adjust all the time. It’s not a problem and I’m not saying that in a blase way.

“We’ve gone through the whole thing last year, 27-28 degrees, and it was over two days as well. This time Tuesday is much cooler. It’s just tomorrow and its flat racing tomorrow so generally they’re only doing one circuit of the track,” Flannelly added.

Ballinrobe hosts a National Hunt card on Tuesday when the weather outlook is for cooler and cloudier conditions with peak temperatures of just 20 degrees.

Champion jockey Colin Keane travels to Mayo for three rides on Monday including Youmdor, twice a winner on the flat in France, who makes his debut on the level for Willie Mullins in a handicap off a potentially lenient mark of 83.

Keane is already likely to have one eye on Saturday’s action after confirmation he will maintain the partnership with Irish Derby winner Westover in Ascot’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Westover is a general 5-4 favourite to land British racing’s traditional midsummer highlight.

Having had his task eased when his Epsom conqueror Desert Crown was ruled out, Westover now faces a new challenger in Emily Upjohn after travel difficulties ruled out the high-class filly from Saturday’s Juddmonte Irish Oaks won by Magical Lagoon.

Westover will be Keane’s first ride in the King George but having justified the decision to replace Rob Hornby at the Curragh last month, the colt’s owners were keen to maintain the partnership.

“There’s no major thinking [behind the decision]. He won on him the last day. He’s a three-time champion jockey and we have a very close association with him,” said the Juddmonte spokesman, Barry Mahon, over the weekend.

“He has ridden two classic winners for us and we have a special arrangement with him that when his first retainer, Ger Lyons, doesn’t use him we can have his services.

“He’s available next weekend and Ger has kindly let him off to he will stay aboard,” he added.

Aidan O’Brien’s Toy came up half a length short of Magical Lagoon in Saturday’s Oaks but on the same card Little Big Bear won the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes in style and was promoted to 14-1 favourite for next year’s 2,000 Guineas by some firms.

The strength of Ballydoyle’s latest juvenile crop was underlined again at Chantilly on Sunday with a 1-2 in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin.

Blackbeard, a 6-5 favourite, proved three lengths too good for his stable companion The Antarctic.

Spanish jockey Ioritz Mendizabal again made the most of an opportunity to ride for O’Brien by guiding Blackbeard to a comfortable success.

Mendizabal completed a classic hat-trick for O’Brien in 2021 with St Mark’s Basilica in the French 2,000 Guineas and Derby while Joan Of Arc scored under the rider in the Prix De Diane (Oaks.)

It was the Irish trainer’s second success in the Papin but a first in 23 years since Rossini scored under Michael Kinane in 1999.

In other news, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has said it is examining “technical” aspects of the case that saw the Paddy Twomey trained Rosscarbery disqualified from third place in the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes three weeks ago.

Twomey slammed the IHRB as not being fit for purpose on the day when jockey Wayne Lordan weighed in almost 5lbs light having been told he was almost 5lbs heavy when originally weighing out.

The Co. Tipperary trainer is adamant there was a mistake by the clerk of the scales and has appealed the disqualification. An IHRB investigation, announced immediately after the incident, is still ongoing.

“A full technical investigation into the circumstances is under way and we hope that will be concluded soon,” an IHRB spokesman said.

Rosscarbery, who was supplemented at a cost of €30,000 into the Pretty Polly won by her stable companion La Petite Coco, has since scored at Group 3 level in the Stanerra Stakes at Leopardstown over a week ago.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column