Racing’s revolving doors

‘Form lines’ is a phrase often deployed in horse racing. Generally in reference to competing steeds who have crossed paths previously. It tends, also, to be put to use in team sports where two entities develop a rivalry over time.

The line’s appearance here has nothing to do with either of the examples utilised thus far. Rather, the propensity of certain invested parties in racing to flip flop their position on certain issues more often than a pancake gets tossed on Shrove Tuesday.

Step forward Michael O’Leary. What’s a half dozen years ago, I think, under the banner of his Gigginstown House Stud operation, the ever-interesting Westmeath man cut ties with serial champion trainer Willie Mullins. Allegedly in a despite training fees.

He hasn’t gone away you know…

I’d say that was equine excrement of the highest order. As, it would appear, was the business magnate’s declaration regarding phasing out their horse racing interests. This corner was always skeptical about the sincerity of the announcement. If for no other reason than cognisance of the amount of talented young horses they currently have in their string.

That was only augmented further when it emerged that Michael’s brother and racing guru Eddie was once again buying young stock. Albeit a little more under the radar than in times past. That said, once they bought one Bumper horse, it was as near to a certainty as there can be that further similar purchases were going to follow.

What wouldn’t have been on many or any radars would have been the possibility of horses bearing the familiar maroon and white silks being domiciled in Closutton again. But, having this week confirmed that recent bumper-winning purchase Shanbally Kid has been bought by the O’Learys and sent to Willie’s, you can be sure more will follow.

Meaning that the two seismic utterances issued in most recent years have now been revoked. Great news for racing on a broader scale, provided re-stocking Willie doesn’t mean other trainers on the Gigginstown roster.


Big sports stories are often like buses. Though it’s very seldom two headline grabbers from the one sporting discipline come along with the rapidity which happened in racing this week. The other tale being another case of racing’s revolving door system going into overdrive.

Suspicion is that yours truly would not be alone in being quite shocked at the revelation that Aidan Coleman would no longer be the retained rider in the Olly Murphy yard.

Of course, all the usual window dressing platitudes were wheeled out ‘No falling out/will still ride for us’ and the like. But, unless Aidan has been given assurances regarding getting mounts off certain owners in particular, it would be difficult not to be a bit baffled by the move.

Olly Murphy (right) served his time with Gordon Elliott

Look, in a situation like that, everyone is going to say what suits themselves. It recalls a situation not all that long ago where one party said they were moving on because the trainer was “Reducing numbers and concentrating on the flat”. Yet when this writer put the above quote to the handler involved, the response was “That’s news to me, nobody said anything to us, we’re going full steam ahead”.

Don’t get me wrong, Sean Bowen is a very talented jockey in his own right. One who, indeed, is regularly put up by Gordon Elliott. Whom, it must be recalled, also give Murphy his start in training before the latter moved back to the UK and took out his own training licence.

He certainly has made a huge impression since going out on his own. Attracting the patronage of some the sport’s most influential owners as a result. There’s no reason why Murphy couldn’t be in the mix to be champion trainer some day. Having less of Aidan Coleman on his team certainly won’t enhance those prospects however.

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