Manch Raceway Grand Re Opening, Sunday 12th July 2015.

Ballineen Race Committee one of the oldest clubs in the West Cork region who for the past few seasons have (through varied circumstances) had to seek venues outside of the Ballineen/Enniskeane parish to hold their annual race meeting but this small but dedicated group are “coming home” and next Sunday host the 2015 fixture at the splendid Manch Raceway.

It seems fitting that since the lease between the ITHRF and The Duggan Family (owners of the venue) for the half mile oval that the local committee should hold the first meeting and signal the re opening of this famous grass venue.

Hilton Sprinter and Tadhg Murphy in action at the 2014 Ballineen Races.

A smile beamed across the face of Angela Hurley of the committee who along with her husband Martin, Richard “Barney” Bradfield and his wife Marie and his brother Liam announced that Ballineen races will be held in Manch. “With the last few years we have had to race at the Ballabuidhe track because our local track was unavailable due to the gas pipeline construction but now we are returning back to Manch and it seems as if we have found our spiritual home. For many years there has been a great tradition of Harness Racing in the twin villages and we are a small group but have loyal sponsors both locally and throughout the region and even beyond“, quipped Angela who is also secretary of the ITHRF.

The finish of the High Grade handicap in 2014.

Her late brother Tommy O' Brien was one of the leading lights of harness racing in West Cork and his memorial cup will be one of the pieces of silverware on offer on Sunday. The late Willie Bradfield (Father of Barney and Liam) was another lifelong supporter of the sport in the region and the family have also a cup in his honour. The PJ Keohane Memorial Cup and The Tim & Hannah (Cooper) Kelleher Memorial trophy will also be on offer. It is expected that seven pacing races which will include heats and finals a saddle race and one Le Trot (French trotters) race will be staged.

Rounding the final turn in 2014.

Cyril Gammell one of the biggest retailers of harness joggers and race bikes in Ireland is also one of the main sponsors on the day. Off the track there will be plenty of entertainment for the kids with free bouncing castle and face painting on site. A new addition this year is a stand where the youngsters will be able to harness up a model horse and also get a chance to sit in the harness racing bike.

As there was no racing last weekend in the region owners and trainers will be jumping to get runs into their stock as we enter the busiest period for racing in the West Cork region. The track is located just off the R586 between Ballineen and Dunmanway. Racing has a 2.30pm start time.

By Tim Kelleher.

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