Day At The Track

Roger Huston to call races in Dublin, Ireland

05:17 AM 02 Jun 2014 NZST
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Roger Huston, harness racing Portmarnock Trotting Track, harness racing Derek Delaney, harness racing
Roger Huston will be calling races in Ireland
Ireland and UK fans will get to hear Roger Huston calling the races during the Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend at Portmarnock Trotting Track in Ireland
Derek Delaney holding the Vincent Delaney Memorial Cup

He already has his plane ticket, and it will be another adventure and addition to the long list of harness racetracks where Hall of Famer Roger Huston has called the races.

Huston has been invited, and has accepted, to be the track announcer for the Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend race program on August 9 and 10 in Dublin, Ireland. Huston could not be more excited about this new conquest.

“I first heard about the Delaney Memorial on the internet,” Huston said. “I was very moved by what these two brothers, Derek and James Delaney, were doing in memory of their younger brother who had passed away. Little did I know that Derek would be contacting me and that I would be flying over to call the races for the two-day meeting. What a thrill this will be.”

“The reason why I thought of having Roger over for the weekend festival memorial,” Derek Delaney explained, “is because I wanted to raise the bar and the profile of my brother’s event even more than it has already achieved in its short life spam of three years to date.

“Roger is a huge voice,” said Derek, “and an ambassador of harness racing across the world in my eyes. My older brother James and I have been meaning to go to the Little Brown Jug for some time and for some reason or another we just have not gotten there yet. I think it’s Roger that makes the Jug so exciting and the quality of horses that race there also,  listening to his voice on YouTube at the Jug just makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, it’s a brilliant atmosphere altogether at the Jug.”

The Delaney Memorial has been developed by Derek and James Delaney into the richest stakes event in the history of harness racing in Ireland and the United Kingdom. It’s a two-year-old stake for pacers that will feature elimination races on Saturday, August 9 and the final, for 25,750 euros ($35,000 US) , will be held on Sunday, August 10.

Portmarnock is a half mile track and there will be both filly and colt elimination divisions, but it will be open in the final with the fillies drawing for the inside positions. A total of 52 two-year-olds were nominated to compete in the two-day event, also a record for any stakes series in Ireland or the UK. On average they have from 8 to 10 races each day, both for trotters and pacers and each dash is one mile.

“I did call the harness races at Tregaron Racetrack in Wales, England back in 2009,” Huston said. “I was there for just four days and what a great time I had. I consider these trips more of a vacation than work. And I think many of the people I met and saw race in Wales will also be coming to Dublin, so it will be good to renew past friendships while I am there. I have some friends in England on Facebook who once they heard I was coming over contacted me to say they had horses that they were bringing to Ireland to race that weekend.

“The attitude of horsemen in Europe,” Huston explained, “is totally different from that of people here in North America. We had a seminar at Tregaron and a trainer from England, who had worked in the USA, said, “I just had to come home. It is too much of a business in the states. It becomes a rat race and I just had to come home to my roots and truly enjoy working with the stable.”

“I have never met such friendly people as in the United Kingdom,” Huston said. “When I went to Wales, Sweden and Norway, the people are just so great. It has become a business here in the states and rightly it should. But it is great to go overseas and meet people who just love racing for racings sake. Their purses are nothing compared to what we go for here but they are just as happy being in the sport and they enjoy what they are doing.”

“ We feel we are trying to recreate something here at Portmarnock like the atmosphere is at the Little Brown Jug,” Derek Delaney explained, “and with Roger and the quality of good bred horses we have entered in this year’s event, I think there is every chance we can do it.  To create an atmosphere that will be electric at Portmarnock that weekend, and this, to my brother James and I, will really be a dream come true for both of us. I'm sure if I was to bet on it, every other harness racing fan in Ireland and the UK would dream it too.

“Having Roger Huston calling our brother’s race in our own backyard is just unreal,” Derek said. “And to think it all stemmed from a negative like my brother’s death is also mind boggling that we all get a chance to attend a dream meeting in his memory. I think with the quality of commentator Roger is and the quality of the horses’ pedigrees in the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial entries in 2014, it’s sure to be a weekend to remember for many years to come.”

“It makes me feel good if my coming over to Ireland to call the races helps them have a great meeting.” Huston said. “And with that being said I would come back every year for this special weekend if they want me to!

“I looked at the list of stallions that have sired the horses eligible to the race and it was as if I was at a Harrisburg yearling sale.” Huston added. “They have bred their mares to some top stallions from the USA, they have purchased good mares in foal from the USA and they are really improving their race program in Ireland and the UK. I am looking forward to calling these races.”

“We have a great quality batch of two-year-olds, Derek said. “The likes that have never been seen in the history of harness racing in Ireland or the UK before and hopefully we will see it rise again for the 2015 race. And it will be an honor to have Roger Huston call such a milestone event in Irish harness racing history.”

Does James and Derek Delaney have any more surprises up their sleeves for their brother Vincent’s memorial race weekend? You can bet they do and there will be more to come in the next few weeks so stay tuned.

By Steve Wolf, for

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