herald

Monday 14 July 2014

McManus and O'Leary flying flag for Ireland

DESPITE its minority status, horse racing remains one of the most powerful and successful industries on this little island of ours and we have a lot of people to admire for it's continuing domination.

An awful lot of people are employed thanks to the horse-racing industry here, and while entries are beginning to take a sizeable drop on track, there are still an awful lot of horses in the country.

Just last Sunday in Lingstown, Co Wexford, there were nine races on bottomless ground for a point-to-point, while on the same day at Boulta, Waterford, there were also nine races.

Between them JP McManus and Michael O'Leary have owned 83 of the winners in Ireland since the season started back in May, and they are two very prominent figures who form the driving force for racing to be so successful.

From stable staff all the way up to those in Horse Racing Ireland and the Turf Club, these two men create a lot of jobs and not far behind them are the likes of Barry Connell and Alan and Ann Potts.

Irish racing is fortunate to have such leading owners pushing it forward.

McManus alone has enjoyed 42 winners so far this season spread out across 19 different trainers, while a further 18 have had runners in his famous green and gold colours.

O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud has had 41 winners this term but with a far more select number of trainers - a total of 12.

Former amateur rider Barry Connell has had far fewer runners, however, but boasts a higher winning ratio of 21pc, and has used the services of 13 trainers so far this season. So success in racing is far from a closed shop.

A lot of the time the aforementioned group of owners are targeting the bigger, higher-profile races, but there is still plenty of room for the small man with the more moderate horse to have his day in the sun.

Such is the nature of the jumping game that most people buying a horse to go over jumps dream that, for big or small money, it could go on to Cheltenham success - or else be good enough to win a couple of races and be sold for profit to the likes of McManus, O'Leary, Connell, Potts et al.

And that is indeed happening throughout racing from month to month.

McManus and O'Leary may be dominating countless winners' enclosures, but the sport would be a sorrier place without them and is certainly big enough for both.

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