What does Aidan O'Brien have to do?
Congratulations to Aidan O'Brien for winning one of the RTE Sports Stars of the Year Awards on Saturday night, He was selected by the RTE Sports Dept as Manager of the Year, with the main accolade, Sportsperson of the Year, going to by public vote to soccer player, James McClean.
I wonder what would O'Brien have to do to actually win the top award? He set a world record and won eight of ten Irish and English classics among many other successes and is recognised worldwide as the top man in a very competitive sport.
I respect James McClean, but he played with an Irish team that failed to qualify and with a West Brom team that is fighting relegation in the Premiership. I find it very hard to figure out how his achievements are regarded as superior to O'Brien's.
Well done also to Bertram Allen, part of the Irish showjumping quartet that won the European championship for the first time in 16 years and was voted the Team of the Year.
After a quiet start to the week, on Sunday trainers Liz Doyle and Paul Nolan both had winners for JP McManus at opposite ends of the country.
There was a strong Wexford contingent at Navan and two of them fought out the finish in the opener. It was Doyle who prevailed with Gran Geste (9/4) under Barry Geraghty getting up on the line to pip Sean Flanagan on Noel Meade's Cask Mate (6/4f). Doyle was delighted as this was her first runner for McManus. The Crossabeg trainer nearly made it a double in the rated novice chase but her Without Limites (13/8f) under Donagh Meyler was unable to see off Tom Taaffe's Goose Man (5/1
I reckon Paul Nolan was the only Wexford connection to opt for Cork and it paid off; his Fitzhenry (11/8f) justified favouritism in the €18,500 handicap chase to take it for McManus by three parts of a length under promising apprentice, Donie McInerney.
On Saturday at Fairyhouse Sean Flanagan had a good book of rides for Noel Meade and he romped to victory by 18 lengths on Moulin a Vent (5/4f) in a three-mile chase, with Monbeg Notorious second.
Jonathan Moore (Adamstown) has decided to give up on his British adventure and base himself permanently on the Irish circuit. For a couple of years he was associated on and off with the Rebecca Curtis yard in Wales and initially enjoyed quite good success, especially with Irish Cavalier at Punchestown and in the Charlie Hall Chase last year.
However, the number of runners and winners had dwindled and Moore has now decided to work in Ireland full time. He rides out regularly for Noel Meade and has been picking up quite a few rides as second choice to Sean Flanagan. He also does some work with Tom Gibney and Wexford locals Paul Nolan and Liz Doyle. Good luck to him back on the home circuit.
In Britain, Daryl Jacob was in action at the televised Doncaster meeting on Saturday and had a favourites double from his four rides. He had a snug six-lengths win on Markov (2/1f) for Ben Pauling, and he scored in the card's £45,000 feature on We Have A Dream (5/6) for Nicky Henderson and retained owner, Simon Munir.
He won, as expected, on Top Notch (4/9f) in the relocated £50,000 Peterborough Chase at Taunton on Thursday, for Henderson and Munir. This one figures among the leading fancies for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. On the flat, Pat McDonald (Taghmon) had a busy day with ten rides between Newcastle and Wolverhampton. He did squeeze out one winner, on Theglasgowwarrior (5/1) for Jim Goldie, getting up by a head.