ITHRF celebrate season with gala awards dinner

The Irish Trotting And Harness Racing Federation held their annual awards night at a pleasant function in Bernies Bar Clonakilty last Saturday night. A sizeable crowd were in attendance for the ceremony with a total of 11 awards presented on the night.

The horse of the year award this season went to SUNNYSIDE KILDARE who is owned by Colomane based Sean Buckley. This son of Bear Dance and Maynooth was a winner of six major races including an elimination heat and final win in the two big memorial handicaps The George Deane and The Paddy Connolly Memorials.

He was driven in all of his races by Donal Murphy and along with seven more victories during the year gave Baltimore native Murphy the driver of the year honours.

IB Maximus was another to give Murphy wins and the jig saw puzzle was completed by another member of the Murphy family Tadhg, who was responsible for training both horses and gave him the trainer of the year for 2014.

The Murphy brothers train out of a purpose built facility in Inishbeg Baltimore and have a breeding programme in place that has produced winners with IB prefix including IB MAXIMUS,IB RAPIDO and IB MOHICAN.

BLAZING BAD ZULU was awarded mare of the year and is owned trained and driven by “Red” John O Donovan from Leap. A model of consistency all year more can be expected of this talented type next season.

The younger members of the sport were also honoured on the night. A special effort was put in place this season to encourage young jockeys and a series of races for novice riders was introduced. In total five, two ladies Shelley Brickley and Kate O' Leary and three boys John O' Mahony, Luke Kelleher and Oisin Quill received medals.

At the other end of the age scale a Lifetime Achievement award was presented to Doneraile based member John Boyle. Originally from Donegal but domiciled in cork for many years the former ESB employee is an active participant in harness racing. This season he had two horses racing. SHIPS CRUISER at times an enigma came to John and has won for his new owner. Boyle has always been a man to nurture young stock and has a nice prospect in the shape of SUPREME SUNSHINE who after winning his maiden looks one for the notebook.

The final award on the night was A Contribution To Racing Award and this year it was presented to Ger McCarthy from Ballygurteen . Ger has been a member of Ballygurteen road Racing Committee for many years and also is on the judging panel of the ITHRF and is well respected by all in the sport.

A special word of thanks must go to Angela Hurley who put in Trojan efforts in organizing the night.

Looking forward the 2015 Road Racing season is only a matter of weeks away and Drimoleague will see the opening fixture on St Stephens Day 26th December.

By Tim Kelleher.

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