Joseph keeping busy: stats and facts for the last three months in Ireland
Ireland's youngest trainer is now Ireland's busiest trainer. Joseph O'Brien had more runners than Gordon Elliott, his father Aidan and Willie Mullins in the third quarter of 2017, statistics extracted by the Racing Post have revealed.
The 24-year-old dual-purpose trainer had 319 runners in July, August and September – 35 more than Elliott, 70 more than O'Brien and 96 more than Mullins.
O'Brien's highlight during those three months was undoubtedly the victory of Tigris River in the Guinness Galway Hurdle, Ireland's richest hurdle race. He also sent out Rekindling to win the Group 2 Curragh Cup in early July.
The battle between Colin Keane and Pat Smullen for the Irish Flat jockeys' championship has been fascinating to follow and it is hardly surprising to learn that they were the two busiest riders in the third quarter of 2017.
Smullen had 306 rides in those three months, while Keane had 279.
There were six more meetings in Ireland in the third quarter of 2017 compared to the same period of 2016, with the knock-on effect of 46 more races. Of the 114 meetings, 64 were Flat fixtures.
Prize-money rose sharply in the third quarter too, with the average purse for a Flat race soaring to €30,331. It was €22,237 during the third quarter of 2016 so there has been a massive increase of 36 per cent.
It was a similar story for prize pools over jumps as the average offering for a race was €14,091, up €2,865 from the same period in 2016.
The average field size for jump races dropped to 11.12 compared to 11.93 in the third quarter of 2016. It was a different story on the Flat as the average field size jumped from 10.87 in 2016 to 11.18 in 2017.
On the going front, there were 13 fixtures run on heavy ground during the third quarter of 2017 compared to eight during the same three months of 2016, mainly due to the torrential rain which hit Listowel with the popular Kerry track doing remarkably well to get through all seven days of its Harvest Festival.