What will the Irish horse racing landscape look like without Michael O'Leary and his Gigginstown Stud?
When Michael O’Leary made it known at the beginning of the summer that he was effectively pulling out of horse racing, and would not be buying any more store horses or young horses, it was hard to imagine the sport without the Ryanair chief looking on and lifting trophy after trophy.
His Gigginstown Stud operation has been the backbone of the Irish racing industry for so long. Without Gigginstown, what?
We got a good look into the future last week when at the Goffs U.K. September sales a major chunk of the Gigginstown armory was moved elsewhere. Names that are close to hearts of racing fans – and even closer to the hearts and bank balances of so many of Ireland’s trainers – were moved to new homes.
Gordon Elliott’s A Toi Phil, for instance, was sold for £70,000 just a week after winning for the Meath-based trainer in Listowel. Elliott’s operation will be the hardest hit by O’Leary’s decision to turn his back on racing and spend more time with his young family and also more time attending to his bruised business.
Henry de Bromhead, Noel Meade and young Joseph O’Brien were also hurt in the sales. So, how is it going to be in a racing life without Gigginstown?
Without that brilliant maroon silk dominating, more and more English trainers are going to be totting up their winning totals annually in Aintree and Cheltenham, for starters. And Ireland’s best young jockeys are going to find it that bit harder to follow in the footsteps of the illustrious generation led by Davy Russell and Co.
Probably best to think like some of the characters in the dearly departed Game of Thrones TV series and warn ourselves that, indeed, “winter is coming.”
How long we remain chilled to the bone remains to be seen.
What do you think? Will Michael O'Leary's move hurt Irish horse racing badly? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.