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Watching Guineas meetings at h...
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Watching Guineas meetings at home "strange" and "annoying" for Jessica Harrington

Irish Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup winning trainer Jessica Harrington admits it's tough not being able to attend the Guineas meetings at the Curragh this weekend. 

The veteran handler has enjoyed nine Group successes at the Kildare venue but is currently cocooning at her home and is forced to watch the action on the TV.

"It seems very strange sitting here when I've horses in every race at the Curragh this evening," Harrington told Nathan Murphy and Johnny Ward on Off The Ball's Friday Night Racing. "I'm sitting here, walking my box, and then shouting at the television. I find it very very strange.

"It's annoying that they've decided that people over 70 couldn't possibly be healthy enough to go racing. It's annoying because at least if you're there and things happen at the last minute then you're there and able to make a decision.

"Sitting at home here somebody has to ring me, things can go work and I just hate not being there. Things can go wrong, like Albigna (on National Stakes Day last year), she was in season that day and I couldn't understand why she was trying to kick and buck around the parade ring which was really unlike her. At least now we know what was wrong...but we've had a funny run into the racing because we haven't been able to have proper prep runs."

Speaking on Skype from her Commonstown Stables in Moone, Harrington said the halting of racing for the lockdown was a scary time for the industry:

"To start with, I was in a complete panic. When we had lockdown and no racing, the first thing you think is that owners won't take their horses home. The only thing I was lucky in is that I have a lot of flat horses as well as jumpers.

"I said to all the jumps owners that it doesn't look we're going to have any more big jumps races for the moment until the autumn. With all the younger flat horses, the two and three year olds, they would stay in training anyway because a lot of them wouldn't be running anyway until July or August.

"We kept the numbers up and we were lucky enough that we kept all our staff and you know Emma and those in the office did a great job in scheduling everything so that those who didn't want to come into the yard to work didn't have to. It was a little bit of juggling to start with and then we settled into a routine."

Harrington's flat season has started promisingly with a treble on the opening day at Naas on Monday, followed by a double at Navan and a winner at Gowran Park on the first week since racing's return:

"I'm delighted because you're always worried when you've had a long gap like that and you're thinking 'have I done too much or have I done too little?', and wonder whether they're overcooked or undercooked. All these things flash through your mind. We've been lucky and had a few winners and we've also had a few disappointments, I can tell you that.

"But you're bound to get some disappointments, life wouldn't be the same without them but on the whole I'm very happy with the form which the horses are in."

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