It was a weekend of celebration for Irish racing on and off the track.
Aiden O’Brien became the first trainer since 1837 to win three in a row 2,000 guineas at Newmarket, yet another marker of the man’s place in the history of a sport where history truly matters.
He then added to his lustre by landing the 1,000 Guineas 254 hours later and teeing up another shot at the Grand Slam of winning all five British classics. He won the first four in 2012.
It has to be born in mind that O’Brien did not even turn 50 until last October.
The level of success he has achieved in his sport is unmatched by any other Irish man or woman and arguably by anyone in any sport.
It was fitting then that he should come back to Ireland on Monday and take the main race on the first day’s racing at the new €85 million Curragh Racecourse.
This was the first meeting using the new facilities and was used as a live test for the official opening weekend at the end of the month when the course will stage the tattersalls 2000 and 1000 Guineas.
The reaction from the near 4,000 attendance was positive and the new Grandstand is an impressive world-class facility, on a par with Croke Park or the Aviva Stadium in terms of its place as a venue capable of staging the very best of international sporting events.
On its biggest days which will generally be the Dubai Duty-Free Irish Derby and the second day of the Irish Champions Weekend it will have the capacity to cater for 30,000 but building the crowds at the other race meetings will be a priority as well.
A programme of Friday nights, including four in the high summer of August, will go some way towards that. It has worked at Leopardstown in Dublin with a blend of music, entertainment and racing and has also been a successful model in the UK at Newmarket.
Horse racing is the one sport in which Ireland can truly claim to be the best in the world.
We now have a venue that can stand comparison to Ascot, Cheltenham or Longchamp in terms of offering facilities for the humans in the sport that are a match for those enjoyed by the horses.
It is now a world-class venue, staging world-class sport and which can be seen as a viable venue for entertaining in a private or a business capacity.
It has been many years since thgat could truly be said of the Curragh but the investment of Horse racing ireland, backed by a significant contribution from some of the sport’s leading players has made it so.
Aidan O’Brien and many more paid credit to them for their vision in making it happen yesterday. It deserves to be seen and to be a success.