11th Feb 2013
England came to Lansdowne Road and conquered in a professional display where the result was all that mattered. In wet conditions and with injuries aplenty, the spectacle was not exhibition standard. The rivalry is always edgy, and there may not be the same warmth as there might be when the Scots or the Welsh visit Dublin but the England team had witnessed too many reverses in recent years to care too much about their manners or party tricks.
The need for rivalry in sport is obvious. I often mention the famous Caucus race in Alice In Wonderland in which the participants run round in circles and at an undefined moment the Mad Hatter declares that “everyone is a winner”. What about that, paddypower. People prefer to see a battle fought and the best team win (if it’s us). While the Colosseum in Rome stacked the odds in favour of the lions, most high level sports only flourish when there is intense rivalry between teams which are similar in standard. Superstar performers are inevitably rare and idolised, but sport at the highest level is mostly just Pacino’s inches.
The ITBA has a seminar in Kilkenny next Monday 18th February, which will try to discover where the financial inches are, to help breeders make profitable decisions and therefore stay in business. It will be interesting, especially if Eddie O’Leary tells us the secret of the Gigginstown success evident again in the Hennessy with Sir Des Champs.
The RPYBS committee has given a commitment to “twist or stick” on the possibility of a fifth Yearling Bonus Scheme for the 2013 yearlings. The rivals in GB have chosen to create a pro-British-bred scheme rather than the objective of the RPYBS which was trying to work on regional development. The rivalry is ever-present, the problem as I see it is that other regions have better structures and therefore may be stronger rivals in the medium term. While we fight minor skirmishes with the other island, the war could be lost because horseracing in these parts gets emasculated by the forces aligning against it.