Martin Brassil: 'Dublin Racing Festival is the best of the best'

Martin Brassil: 'Dublin Racing Festival is the best of the best'

In an exclusive interview with BoyleSports, Irish trainer Martin Brassil discussed the significance of the Dublin Racing Festival and shared his thoughts on how it can compete with the illustrious Cheltenham Festival, despite the strength of the Irish economy.

This weekend at Leopardstown, Brassil is gearing up for the Irish Gold Cup with Fastorslow, a leading contender for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Irish trainer expressed his optimism about the Dublin Racing Festival's stature and its ability to attract attention without Cheltenham.

Brassil, speaking to BoyleSports, who offers the latest Cheltenham betting, said, “The Dublin Racing Festival is huge in its own right. Why shouldn’t it be? We have some of the best horses, trainers, and jockeys! I’m only half-joking! We do have some of the best horses around at this juncture."

Ireland's trainers and horses will head into the racing season with huge expectations of them, and 2024 is expected to be no different.

Reflecting on the evolution of Irish racing, Brassil highlighted the tremendous expectations placed on Irish horses heading to Cheltenham, a stark contrast from when he appeared on the scene all those years ago.

“There is a huge expectation about Irish horses going to Cheltenham compared with when I started out as a trainer 30 years ago, when we’d be lucky to come away with three or four winners. That has totally turned around. The likes of Willie (Mullins), Gordon (Elliott), and Henry (De Bromhead) are picking up an awful lot of the prizes over there; not a singleton like myself!”

(Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Brassil also mentioned the challenges faced by trainers competing against powerhouse trainers like Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott, and Henry De Bromhead, highlighting how competitive horse racing has become.

“It is very tough. If you have a good horse, then it is great. It is tough, day in and day out. Wherever you go now, you can’t avoid them. Years ago, before they got that strong, you were always able to gear a horse, perhaps towards the summer months, but they have so many customers and so many horses that they have to keep a big batch for the summer. It doesn’t matter where you turn up; either one or both will be there!

“It is inevitable, I suppose. But it is totally new to people who have been in the game as long as I have. If you go back 40–50 years, no trainer had more than 50–60 horses, the likes of Tom Draper and Vincent O’Brien; none of them had those types of numbers that Willie, Gordon, and Henry do—it has changed dramatically.

“It is no fault of the big trainers that they are attracting the wealthier owners who are willing to buy expensive point-to-point and bumper winners. Fair play to them.

The Dublin Racing Festival will take place at Leopardstown on February 3 and 4.