Flat Season Review

Well another flat season comes to an end and it has been quite a season.

Aiden O’Brien and his Ballydoyle machine has had a brilliant season winning a majority of the Group One races. Clearly losing Kieran Fallon has not had a detrimental effect and in Johnny Murtagh they seem to have found an able substitute.

Of course the winning streak has not come without its critics. Firstly us Brits love to knock a winner then there has been the controversy surrounding the use of team tactics and, on more than one occasion, team Ballydoyle have fallen foul of various teams of stewards around the world. Of course there has also been the pocket talking criticism from losing punters who just cannot accept they picked the wrong horse and they need somebody else to blame.

Talking of controversy the biggest controversy of the season must surround the “will he, won’t he” saga of New Approach’s Epsom Derby participation. The ins and outs have been discussed ad-nauseum   elsewhere and I don’t intend digging them up again. Suffice to say it is my belief that Jim Bolger is an inherently honest man and the behaviour of certain members of the media in this matter has been nothing short of a disgrace.

After the excitement of last years jockeys championship which, went to the last race on the last day of the season, the 2008 renewal was something of an anti-climax.  Ryan Moore, who has a hate / hate relationship with the media, regained the title with some ease, after missing most of last season through injury. There is no doubt he is a competent jockey and he lets his riding do the talking. However he would do well to remember a little humility and civility would go a long way to making his life easier.

The big festivals came and went, although York didn’t even get off the ground due to flooding.

The end of the season was, however, sullied with more scandal. Following a BHA inquiry trainer Paul Blockley and jockey Dean McKeown, along with some other unsavoury characters, including a pretty obnoxious owner, were warned off for cheating.  The implementation of the ban was delayed for seven days in the case of McKeown and in that time he was referred to the BHA for another offence under the non-triers rule – you couldn’t make it up.

The plaudits for me:-

Trainer of the year:- a tie between Aiden O’Brien and Jim Bolger (with a special mention for Sir Michael Stoute who finally won that elusive St Leger)

Horse Of The Year:- another tie between Derby winner New Approach and Conduit who after winning the St Leger went and beat the Yanks at the Breeders Cup)

Jockey Of The Year:- Ryan Moore (with special mentions for Kevin Manning and Johnny Murtagh)


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