Codd a winner again
Successful return after injury in April
Galway and Goodwood were the focus of the racing world on both sides of the Irish Sea during the week, with two of the big summer festivals clashing as usual.
While Ruby Walsh grabbed most of the headlines for his return after a long injury lay-off, Galway was just as significant for leading amateur, Wexford's Jamie Codd.
The former champion amateur and point-to-point rider, from the great Mayglass horsey family but now living in Kildare, suffered serious spinal injuries in a point-to-point race at Ballysteen, Co. Limerick, on April 22 which kept him off the track for over three months and scuppered his chances of regaining the point-to-point rider's title from Barry O'Neill.
In some respects he was lucky as his injuries could have been life-changing. He has worked hard on his rehab and fitness and he returned to action in Galway on opening Monday (July 30) with a couple of rides and had his first winner in the Thursday bumper on the well-backed Martin Brassil runner, You Raised Me Up (9/4).
It was a typical Codd ride as he took it up with a furlong to go and defied all challengers. He spoiled another gamble as he held off the Charles Byrnes-trained Doctor Duffy (11/8) by a length and a half, with old rival, Patrick Mullins, in third on Golden Spread.
Well done Jamie, it is nice to have you back. As so often in the past, he was the Wexford flagbearer and his was the only winner of Galway week for the Wexford riders.
The Ruby Walsh injury story was even worse. He summed it up succinctly at Galway when he remarked he'd had one full week's work on the track in nine months. He broke his right leg in a fall at Punchestown on November 18 and was just a week back when he re-fractured the same leg at the Cheltenham Festival on March 14.
At 39 years of age, many jumps jockeys might have been tempted to call it quits at that stage, especially when you have won all the big prizes in the game in a glittering career.
But Walsh is made of stern stuff and the thought of all those great horses waiting for him in the Willie Mullins yard was surely a great incentive.
He eased his way back in with a single ride at Galway on the opening evening and coasted to victory on Easy Game (a generous 5/4 favourite).
Even for the best, it is not always easy as proved with his one ride the next evening when Exchange Rate (1/1 f) got rid of him at the very first hurdle! Walsh had just one winner in his next ten rides which illustrates just how tough it is at Galway.
Personally, I am not a great fan of the Galway week, which seems to almost be a heresy, with most of the racing pundits very much in love with the whole occasion.
It is full of mixed cards, often with just a couple of jumps races sharing with flat races that can be anything from a sprint up to two miles.
It can be a bit of a punter's nightmare too, with all sorts of plots and intrigues and horses laid out for months in advance.
Now, I am talking here as a racing fan; I do accept that there is a very substantial social scene attached to the Galway Festival which seems to overshadow the actual racing, except perhaps on the headline Plate and Hurdle days.
Good luck to all those who make a holiday out of the week but for me there are quite a lot of average horses contesting some pretty ordinary races and the rest of the Irish racing world grinds to a halt for the entire week, with no other fixtures anywhere in the country.
Willie Mullins has been involved in epic battles with Gordon Elliott for the trainers' title over the past two years in particular, overcoming big Elliott leads with a superhuman effort at the season-ending Punchestown Festival.
He obviously does not want that to happen any more and this season he has started off like a train, amassing the fastest ever first 50 winners.
After Galway he is on 59 winners for the season so far, an incredible 32% win rate, with Henry De Bromhead second on 32 and Elliott on just 22 from over 200 runners (18%).
Mullins has won with 48 different horses already.
Mullins has already topped the million euro mark in prize money, more than double Elliott's total. It is very early in the season and all the serious stuff has still to come, but Mullins is showing he is going to take no prisoners.
He took the big-money feature races on five of the first six days of the Festival, including several on the flat. His twelve winners for the week made him a facile winner of leading trainer and equalled last year's total.
Dermot Weld has been the leading trainer at Galway for an incredible 30 years or more but his influence has waned in recent years, especially over the jumps. He had three flat winners for the week.
Noel Meade had to wait until Sunday for his first and Jim Bolger, one of the big trainers who certainly does not seem to target Galway, had no winner.
Aidan O'Brien had just one winner in the first five days but picked up with a double in the first two on Saturday, with Broome (4/5) and Astronomer (5/2), both ridden by son, Donnacha.
Things return to normal in this coming week with eleven meetings scheduled.