McConalogue hails Irish Successes at Cheltenham
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D., has congratulated Irish Racing on its outstanding successes at the Cheltenham Race Festival this week. The Race Festival was held behind closed doors and subject to strict protocols before, during and after the event due to the current COVID-19 Pandemic.
Minister McConalogue congratulated the breeders, owners, trainers, and jockeys of the 23 Irish winning horses at the festival and said that this is a clear indicator that the Irish breeding industry remains extremely competitive at a global level. Minister McConalogue extended a special plaudit to Rachel Blackmore, who on Tuesday became the first female rider to ever win the Champion Hurdle when partnering the mare Honeysuckle to success. She also received the Leading Jockey award of the festival, with six wins under her belt.
Rachel turned professional in 2015 and has made steady progress through the ranks, taking her first Cheltenham win in 2019 and finishing second to Paul Townend in the Irish Jockeys’ Championship that season.
The Minister also congratulated Willie Mullins as the most successful trainer, with six wins to his credit. He has achieved this accolade eight times in the last eleven years.
While on a visible level the plaudits for all of these successes naturally go to the breeders, owners, trainers and jockeys, Minister McConalogue is keenly aware that this is only part of the story. These achievements would not be possible without the professionalism and dedication of the staff behind the scenes. The staff behind the scenes consists of stable staff, grooms, valets and others, whose passion and care of the horses in their charge is something to be cherished.
Finally, Minister McConalogue thanked the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board and their counterparts in the British Horse Racing Authority for their professionalism in ensuring the strict COVID-19 protocols were maintained this week. This is a clear indicator of how successful collaboration can achieve positive outcomes even in an extremely challenging environment.