THE big racing news this week is that training legend Barry Hills, 74, has decided to retire and hand over the reigns to son Charlie.
Hills has trained almost 3,200 winners including five Irish Classics, including Sir Harry Lewis in the 1987 Irish Derby.
Perhaps his most popular win on Irish soil was when Dibidale made up for a hugely unlucky run in the English Oaks in 1974, when her saddle slipped, and landed the Irish equivalent as compensation.
I personally will never forget his bravery a couple of years ago, when being treated in hospital on the same day, he picked up an award at the horserace writers’ annual ceremony.
After a fine card at The Curragh on Sunday, I’m afraid that this weekend’s domestic racing doesn’t grab me in the same way and as I know many of you read these words on a Wednesday evening, I’m going to have a look at next Wednesday’s opening day of York’s Ebor Meeting which is live on Channel 4 Racing.
Many of you will know that the St Leger at Doncaster is one of my favourite races and the Great Voltigeur Stakes is always an informative trial.
I really like the look of Aidan O’Brien’s Seville who has found just one rival too good on four of his last five starts and can return to winning ways here.
The only bad run he has put in this season came in the English Derby and as that’s the only time he’s ever finished out of the first two, I’m going to put it down to just another fine horse who wasn’t suited by the unique undulations of Epsom.
The selection ran well at York in May when going down to Carlton House in the Dante Stakes over a probably inadequate 10 furlongs and this latest challenge is actually a step down in class as he’s run at the highest level the last two times in the Irish Derby and Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris.
Seville is quite a short-priced favourite for the St Leger and could get even shorter if he wins this well.
Await The Dawn represents O’Brien in the same day’s Juddmonte International but I’m opting for Sir Henry Cecil’s Twice Over to land his owner’s own prize money.
The son of Observatory was given a confidence booster in the York Stakes last month, when staying on well to deny Ransom Note by one and a quarter lengths, and that will have put him spot on to avenge last season’s reversal behind Rip Van Winkle in this contest.
My fancy has run three times at York and never finished out of the first three and Cecil has never lost faith in his charge even when he throws in a below par effort like in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes earlier in the campaign.
He won both the Eclipse and the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes last season and he’ll go close if running up to his best.
Turning to the football and I’m going to go for Manchester United currently at 7-4 to win the Premier League.
Some of you will be yawning at how obvious that selection is and you’re probably right, but it’s a bet that I like as you’re almost definitely guaranteed an interest until close, if not, to the end of the season and you never know, I might be feeling generous and pay out early!
Sure last Sunday’s Charity Shield was only a friendly against arch rivals Manchester City, but as Wayne Rooney tweeted, ‘there’s no such thing as a friendly against City and we want to win’. Coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2, United impressed me greatly.
Sunday 4pm onwards Manchester United to win the Premier League
Wednesday 17th York 3.05pm Seville
Wednesday 17th York 3.40pm Twice Over
The Paddy Power Column in association with Paddy Power Bookmakers