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Tom tips a wink to Racegoers
TOM O’RYAN can barely hear himself for the sound of scribbling. In front of him is a rapt crowd, beavering with pens and furiously taking down every cough and spit from the mouth of The Press’ racing tipster.
This is O’Ryan’s other day job.
When he is not picking winners for readers in York, North and East Yorkshire, is broadcasting, or writing for the sport’s trade paper, he rides out every morning at Richard Fahey’s Musley Bank yard on the outskirts of Malton.
The trainer isn’t here, having departed for Newmarket sales with O’Ryan’s brother, and Fahey’s assistant trainer, Robin. So it falls to Tom to steer members of The Racegoers Club through a stable tour of one of the north’s racing empires.
It would be wrong to label members of The Racegoers Club as anoraks, but they are a committed bunch.
Around 30 have travelled the length and breadth of Britain for this behind-the-scenes peek at the yard and their close attention means they are hoping O’Ryan can give them a winner as they walk round the boxes and then travel up to the gallops to watch some of the horses in action.
O’Ryan does better than that.
He tells them about Tatlisu, who wins that day in a Musselburgh maiden, before advising that a few shillings might not go amiss on the stable’s rising star, Mayson. The next day the three-year-old wins the Group 2 Palace House Stakes at Newmarket.
Not bad for a morning’s visit.
These are the sort of insights you can only really get at the gallops and it’s why The Racegoers Club has more than 5,000 members. You might know them for their annual awards – they hand out gongs to racecourses who have impressed them – but stable visits are a key part of the organisation’s itinerary.
Unless you have a few thousand burning a hole in your back pocket, and invest it in full or part-ownership of a racehorse, opportunities to visit the top yards are few and far between for punters.
But Paul Smith, racing and social secretary of the club, says stable tours are an important part of what the organisation is about. And that’s not all.
“People have come from all over – from Ludlow and down south – for this visit,” he said. “We run events all round the country and try and give everyone a chance to get involved. The aims of the club are to get people going racing and more involved in the sport and as close an involvement as possible.
“We’ve got about 5,000 members and the main benefit is the concession scheme. There are discounts at about 90 per cent of all fixtures over the year and you can get anything between £3 and £6 off racecourse admission.
“We run visits, stud visits, we have five or six syndicates a year where members will pay around £200 for a share in a horse. We are just trying to make things accessible to people.
“The members get the chance to go behind the scenes of big yards. That’s not something you get the chance to do very often. We are also trying to encourage ownership as well, so there is something in it for them as well. Quite a few of our members have gone on to be involved as owners at yards in smaller syndicates. Most of the trainers are amazingly good. The yards give a lot of their time and I think they see the bigger picture. You can’t get that close in many sports.”
• The Racegoers Club are offering Press readers who join for the rest of 2012, currently £20 single or £30 double membership, a £5 tote betting voucher along with their membership when quoting the offer code YORKSHIRE. This can be booked online by applying the code or by phoning 01344 625912.
Stable visits planned in June and July include a look round the yards of Hambleton trainer Bryan Smart and Nawton’s David O’Meara.
Penitent pride for O’Meara
DAVID O’MEARA, who has trained more than 100 British winners in double-quick time since taking out a licence in the summer of 2010, breaks new ground on Sunday by saddling his first runner in France.
The Nawton handler will not be bidding for just any race, but a Group 1 contest in the shape of the prestigious Prix d’Ispahan over nine furlongs at Longchamp with Penitent, who is two-from-two this season.
A £40,000 purchase out of the William Haggas yard in Newmarket, Penitent, winner of the 2010 Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster for his original trainer, has already provided O’Meara with a brace of notable triumphs.
Winner of the Doncaster Mile, a Listed event, on his reappearance this season, Penitent followed up at Sandown last month when clinching the Group 2 bet365 Mile under Danny Tudhope, who is set the take the mount again.
“I’ve never even been racing in France, let alone had a runner there,” admits O’Meara. “If he runs again in a Group 2 race, he will have a penalty to carry, having already won a Group 2, so it’s worthwhile letting him take his chance in Group 1 company.
Penitent carries the well-known colours of Middleham Park Racing.