Life is different for everyone. Riches count for little when things change quickly. In what I suppose must be termed a mundane context, just scan some of the recent developments in horse racing. No matter what Rich Ricci’s net wealth is – and a calculator with multiple zeros would probably be required to get near it – the financial – and maybe more so – emotional blow of seeing many of his star stock, Vautour, Annie Power, Faugheen, Min and Getabird, taken out of the equation has had to be taxing.
Right, so, financially speaking, the American is better placed than maybe anybody to absorb the costs of being involved in racing. To focus on that, though, is to neglect the genuine, indisputable bond which exists between anyone who keeps animals – be they equine, bovine, canine or anything else – and their stock.
Yet, the inescapable truth is, the famed pink and green spotted silks will remain prominent and will even be carried by several steeds at the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival. For others – most, in fact – there’s no such luxury. It’s that realisation which makes the recent retirement of Goonyella all the more difficult to stomach.
The likeable stamina specialist had, in recent seasons, returned the Jim Dreaper yard to something akin to the prominence that was once the norm in Greenogue. Personally, he commanded a place in my heart which only National Hunt horses can. There was something romantic about the story of his career.
He first appeared on the radar here in a meaningful way when being the only finisher in a Hunters Chase in Limerick over Christmas a few years ago when the ground resembled a ploughed field. That was ‘Goony’ territory. To progress from such surroundings to winning a Midlands National, being second in the Scottish equivalent and fifth in the Aintree version was a great tribute to both horse and trainer.
But the thing is, jump racing allows such stories. In some respects, it is an equal opportunity arena. Think of horses like Danoli and Coneygree and Rebel Fitz and – more recently – Tobefair who, at the time of typing, has amassed seven consecutive wins for the hitherto unheralded Deborah Hamer in the UK. For trainers such as she, however, it only takes on horse like that to launch a career onto greater things.
This could be applied to any facet of life, but, what’s routine for one person could be massive to another. Thus, while operations such as Gigginstown or Ann and Alan Potts source many of their future stars in the Point-to-Point sphere, for others to have a winner thence means as much as the showpiece race on the middle Friday in March.
In this instance, I think of Dunboyne trainer Ally Murphy and her partner Mick Reilly who recently had another good day when the likeable – and fast becoming legendary – Giveabobback registered another victory in the beautiful black and amber silks in Kilfeacele, Co Clare. For a small outfit like that of Ally and Mick (and head man Darren Dunne!), days like that make all the graft worthwhile. And there’s no reason why more shouldn’t follow.