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Monday 20 August 2018

Top Ten wishes for 2011 heaven

New Year dreams that may not just be fantasy...

Some are obvious, some are not so, but in what again looks set to be another marvellous year in all things equine, we look at some random things that racegoers and punters can look forward to in the coming year.



1 Two King George VI Chases

One Man was a dual King George winner and while we eagerly wait to see if the great Kauto Star can claim a fifth later this month, this is a race we can look forward to running twice this year -- weather permitting.

One Man won the 1995 renewal in January 1996, and with the 2010 renewal set to take place in just over a week's time, it is due to be the first of two run this year with December 26 the fixed date for the 3m Grade One.

Who knows if Kauto Star will be around to win the 2011 King George, but if he can win the 2010 race this month and rewrite the record books, that in itself would be a priceless memory of 2011 already.



2 A fit-again Ruby Walsh

2010 was certainly a year to forget for arguably the greatest jump jockey ever to ride in this country.

Ruby Walsh endured a torrid time after a fall on Grand National day in early April at Aintree left him on the sidelines until mid-August.

After a double featuring Kauto Star on November 6, Walsh was left with a double leg fracture and is now in a race to be back for early next month.

In total, Walsh missed six months of the year and can hopefully look forward to a much more positive 2011.

Between Ireland and the UK Walsh enjoys two of the best jobs in racing and you can't but enjoy and appreciate watching him in full flight.



3 A changing of the guard

Since we were spoilt by the likes of Istabraq, Hardy Eustace, Brave Inca and Sublimity, not to mention Macs Joy and Harchibald, it has been a barren few years at Cheltenham on the opening day's feature race.

Hurricane Fly could be about to change that and, to be totally honest, if he fulfils his apparent potential and stays sound, Hurricane Fly could be the next Istabraq and go on to win more just one Champion Hurdle.

It is a bold statement, to compare Hurricane Fly with the legendary Istabraq, but with the manner of his successes in Ireland -- and considering his past problems -- he looks to be the real deal.



4 Ladies Days

Relax, this is not a reference to when the ladies get the gladrags out or when mutton dresses up as lamb, but to the trainers who are going to make a mark in 2011.

Jessica Harrington had a very memorable year in 2010 with Group One and Grade One winners and she can hope and certainly be expecting more of the same in the coming 12 months in both codes.

Another trainer who has a strong strike-rate and plenty to look forward to is Prunella Dobbs, trainer of the classy mare Our Girl Salley.

The Co Wicklow-based trainer is one of the shrewdest and very good at placing her horses so keep a close eye on her.



5 The next Sea The Stars

Okay, another bold statement, but there will be a huge air of excitement around when two-year-old Born To Sea makes his racecourse debut. The half brother to the all-conquering Sea The Stars, is also trained by his handler, John Oxx, and will also carry the colours of the Tsui family.

The colt by Invincible Spirit has massive hooves to follow in, but his emergence will be an exciting prospect and he is in the care of a proven great trainer.



6 Dermot Weld

Rite Of Passage and Majestic Concorde are just two dual-purpose horses that you can expect to fly the flag for Rosewell House but there could well be a few more to boot, all of which are significant.

Weld will not have runners on big days just for the sake of it, especially the National Hunt meetings, and Majestic Concorde proved that last week when winning the Paddy Power Handicap Chase.

Rite Of Passage will surely return to defend the prestigious Ascot Gold Cup and he has already proven a classy hurdling recruit.

Unaccompanied and Hidden Universe are two other recent winners we will hear a lot more of in 2011.



7 Workforce

Workforce took 2010 by storm winning the Epsom Derby and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and credit to his connections as he looks set to be the first Derby winner since 2006 winner Sir Percy to stay in training as a four-year-old.

With breeding such an integral part of the sport, the training on of a Classic winner is rare, especially Derby heroes, so it will be nice to look forward to him contesting some of the better races on the Flat this year.



8 The old favourites

You just can't beat top quality racing and the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals are simply not to be missed.

Already the races at both meetings are hotting up, while the Aintree Grand National speaks for itself.

For a couple of months now we have been looking forward to the Flat Classics such as the Epsom Derby, while there are many who still take an annual pilgrimage to Galway for their raceweek and that's unlikely to change in 2011.

Aren't we just lucky that we have all this every year and don't have to wait every two or four like other sports?



9 Jockey bookings

Johnny Murtagh admitted he just was not enjoying life as Ballydoyle stable jockey anymore, hence he moved on. He will now ride as His Highness Aga Khan's first jockey in Ireland in 2011 while no replacement has been announced for Murtagh's former role.

I suggested some months ago that there would be no stable jockey announced for the most powerful yard in the country and they would adopt a 'best available' policy in 2011.

That now looks extremely likely meaning the likes of Joseph O'Brien, Colm O'Donoghue and Seamie Heffernan could come in for some very good rides in Ireland but, more importantly across the water, former employees Jamie Spencer and Kieren Fallon could be called upon as well as the likes of Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes.



10 Recognition

Horseracing is a minority sport and that is unlikely to change this year or next, but AP McCoy winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award might just mean that this great sport is in line for overdue recognition.

No matter how big the story in racing, it will be lucky to get a slot prior to last on the sports news.

Horse Racing Ireland have set up a task force to try and make racing more appealing to the public in these challenging times and maybe 2011 will be the year that horseracing even becomes more exciting to a wider audience.

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