End of season review for Irish Trotting

The curtain came down on another harness racing season in Cork at Clonakilty, where the All Ireland Championships were held at the picturesque Inchadoney Island venue. Rhyds Destiny stamped his class on the final and gave winning connections John Shanahan, Aiden Hayes and John Mycock their first win in the classic since 2002 albeit they are better known for owning classic winners on the winter road racing discipline.

The first classic of the season, The Ballabuidhe Grand Prix, saw a popular victory for Ringo Star who defeated Meadowbranch Demon (who trailed fifty yards) in the final and purists described this race as one of the greatest of the modern era. The two big guns were almost upstaged in the final by Llywns Allstar who with Mike O Brien in the sulky nearly created a major shock leading to the final furlong before giving best to his vaunted rivals. Ringo Star was bred and is owned by the Brickley family from Reengroiga in Baltimore and was winning the Grand Prix for the first time for the Brickley’s, who are involved in the sport for over sixty years.

Patrick Hill and John “Red” O’Donovan, who both train two pacers, enjoyed a highly successful year. Hill with his own bred Hillside Dartanian and Hail Spartacus and O’ Donovan with his veteran Mr Security and Blazing Bad Zulu, were regular visitors to the winner’s circle over the season.

The gong for 2014 horse of the year went to Sunnyside Kildare (Bear Dance/Maynooth) who was a winner of six races. Owned by Sean Buckley, he created history by winning the George Deane Memorial and The Paddy Connolly Memorial Handicaps which are two of the most coveted prizes on the Southern Ireland circuit. “Kildare” was driven in all of his races by Donal Murphy and this was the catalyst for Murphy winning another drivers championship rounding off the year with thirteen local wins.

Comply Or Die, owned by Irish Trotting & Harness Racing Federation (ITHRF)secretary Angela Hurley along with her husband Martin, contributed three more wins to Murphy. IB Maximus bred by the Murphy family was a winner of two along with a win in Tregaron, Wales. Another Murhy home bred IB Mohican gave County Kerry based owner/trainer Finbarr Quill his first win on Welsh soil with a victory at the Tregaron meeting with his son Seamus in the bike.

ITHRF horses performed well at that major three day festival with Miraculus Reurn owned by John Cross and Pat Crawford also landing a major gamble for the County Limerick and County Clare base duo. Mike Kelleher drove the winner and finished second on Meadowbranch Demon in the mile and a half high grade stayers race. The lower grade stayers went to another Cork raider, Ringo Star, ensuring the best return for members at the meeting.

Popular owner/trainer/driver John Boyle proved that age should never be a barrier and this veteran enjoyed wins on Supreme Sunshine and Ships Cruiser with the former shaping in to a horse that has many more wins to come.

As we bid farewell to the wonderful summer evenings and face the long nights and darkness of winter, followers of harness racing are already looking ahead to the 2015 Winter Road Racing.

The ITHRF are at present putting together a fixture list for this sport which sees pacers raced under saddle on the tarmac at ten different venues in the region starting off on St Stephens Day Dec 26th in Drimoleague and culminating on Easter Sunday in Ballydehob.

This racing is unique to the Cork region and with little or no sporting activity over the winter attracts major crowds to all venues and gets spectators up close with the action. This racing is unique to the Cork region and with little or no sporting activity over the winter should attract major crowds to all venues.

So roll on December as the ITHRF moves forward and to coin the phrase “ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!”

By Tim Kelleher.

Return to Previous News Articles