Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 3 of 3
1

When writing on any sector in the equine industry - it's a positive sign when the sport in question threw up so many feel good moments and exciting events that the problem is condensing the news into the allotted space. 2019 saw world class harness racing performances on the track and major progress at organisational level in Irish harness racing. Despite huge efforts by the IHRA to entice horsemen to race early in the season the local scene got off to a stuttering start. The April columns in this paper were buoyed by good news from America where Reclamation, still part owned by Donal Murphy (the main owner being Bill Donovan ) and Robyn Camden, owned by Dubliner Jason O'Sullivan, both ran up winning sequences. The latter mare continued her winning ways into ' the fall '. Another feature of 2019 was healthy progress in the career of Jack Killeen of Tallaght as a driver in the USA and Ballydehob born Robbie Cleary, who is building a big reputation as a public trainer in New Jersey. Robbie featured in an October report wherein he signed for the top priced pacing yearling at the Harrisburg sales. Back at home, both Billy Roche and John Richardson took headlines in the pre - Delaney meetings and the two great rivals traded blows all summer. Richardson was to take both the national and Portmarnock drivers titles - a late surge ( a four timer in fact ) at the deciding meeting secured The Irish Field silver salver and a generous cheque. Billy won a separate title for driving the most Trotteurs Francais winners. He has no peers when it comes to freshening up old battle hardened geldings. May saw a feast of nostalgia as the followers celebrated 50 years at Portmarnock. Jack Wilson (86) who won the final at the opening meeting is still alive and well and was guest of honour at a dinner at the track. There was much mention of the visionary Hughie Richardson who teamed up with thoroughbred breeder WJ Mc Enery to open a 400 yard track. The 18th May meeting was full of memories of man and beast : Paddy Kane, Paddy Manning , Walter Cunningham, Ulex, Eastwood Relko and Smoke Away. The summer highlights came and went - racing at ' heaven on earth ' (Inchydoney Strand ), followed a few weeks later by the superbly organised Red John Memorial near Clonakilty. The world renowned Vincent Delaney meeting was graced by a skilful American driver, one Jordan Stratton, and saw a home victory in the fillies (Rainbow Writer) and a British based winner in the colts (Mattuceuous). In September John Richardson and Jonny Cowden brought the house down at Tir Prince, North Wales. Jonny won a graded race with the Coreys' Fairdays Western. JR took Britain's biggest race for French Trotters with Maxie Collins' Besame Mucho and followed up with their biggest race for pacers ' The Crock of Gold ' on his own Gentleman Jim. The Coleraine yard of Walter Stewart hit winning form in the autumn. Porterstown Courage won the Red Mills All Ireland Final and Ladyford Dollar picked up major races for three year olds in Ireland and one across the water. Sean Kane, second on four occasions previously in France shook off his jinx on November 16th when he drove the unfancied Delsa Derangere to win during the France vs. Ireland competition at l' Hippodrome d'Argentan in Normandy. Sean has only 3,999 to go to catch up with Charlie Mills, the Irishman, who dominated European trotting on the post - war years. Late in the season Bobby Barry's Blackwell Ruby, lightly raced in these islands won her first start in the USA. BEST MOMENTS IN 2019 ; To see Jack Wilson sitting alongside John Richardson in a two seater training cart behind Emeric Perreux summed up a lifetime of racegoing for me. Jack actually owned Windys Son, John's first drive in a race in 1981. Windys Son failed to win a race. The driver went on to win 1300 and counting. A few weeks later Jack presented a cup to Stevie Lees who won the Bookmakers Pace with Panam Colt, a catch drive for Billy Roche. The hardened pro, with the scars to prove it and Corinthian Jack, a baker by trade. I was within earshot, and was impressed that little Stevie took so much interest in Jack. PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR : The performance of the year was on Irish soil from a pair of gifted English hands. Stevie Lees' inspired move when he sensed a lull in the pace at the half in the Bookmakers Pace ( Lees was on the aforementioned Panam Colt ). That stuff cannot be taught - you either have it or you don't. The aptly named Miraculous put up the equine performance of the year in breaking the track record in August. The time of 1.54.6 is stunning when we consider that most of the Irish and British horses which have tried their hand in the US have 'found ' six or seven seconds due to climate and tracks. I refuse to say training methods as I would back the best of the Irish and English trainers against all comers. ONE THING WE GOT RIGHT IN 2019 : The introduction of the Tiny Hooves Series of pony racing has been an unqualified success. The joy on the children's faces and also their adult co -drivers was sight to behold. Well done to Nadina, Mary and Leah and any other helpers. Plans and some welcome funding from Horse Sport Ireland are afoot to improve the racing and most importantly the training of the young drivers. ONE THING WE NEED TO IMPROVE : I am mindful that the racing is run by unpaid volunteers, therefore I am loath to criticise any aspect of the sport. I must also confess a vested interest as a working bookie at the track. There is simply too much confusion in communicating driver changes and handicap marks over the PA system. I have lost count of the number of horses which went behind the car with a driver in the bike different to the card and/or the announcement. Scottish and Welsh harness racing and also point to points are also run by volunteers and in my experience have an almost 100% accuracy in this aspect. If we wish to sell the product to betting chains this has to be ' regimental ' AN UNSUNG HERO : Ivan Swindle of Fermanagh has done sterling work in building a glass fronted bar and canteen at Annaghmore Raceway. Hopefully the little facility will be open in 2020. Another of our unsung heroes, a giant in the sport, is currently on a sabbatical from fence painting, track grading, battery charging, and number cloth repairing. I appeal to this individual to come back to the fold, the racing is poorer without your input. Come back, and then we can sing about you ! PREDICTION FOR 2020 - 2019 will be a hard act to follow. My gut feeling is that with so much knowledge and effort amongst Irish horsemen that something is going to break ( not that type of break ! ) that puts Ireland on a world stage. It could be a horse ( Blackwell Ruby, Reclamation or Gentleman Jim ) or a horseman ( Sean Kane, Alan Richardson or Robbie Cleary ) or a major race in Ireland. I put in my letter to Santa that it would be great if a US based trainer would buy a colt or filly (he / she wouldn't need to be a sales topper ) for the VDM and then get the horse ready for the big race in North America before flying the animal here for the big weekend. The venture won't break even but what a story that would make ! by Dan Carlin, for the Irish Field    

BELFAST, IR - Born in Belfast, harness racing brought Brenda Hudson to Dublin in more ways than one. Having raced throughout the UK, America and more recently in Malta, Brenda Hudson is enjoying her ‘elder stateswoman status’ within Irish Harness Racing. Brenda is looking forward to the 2018 season, the traditional Easter Sunday start date having been restored. Wins at 31 different tracks, trebles at 11 of these venues, 52 wins in Britain, 57 wins with Rambling Rover alone. In Musselburgh in 1996 with Double M, the Irish Derby with Stormy Reveller followed by the 2002 Welsh Classic at Tregaron, the stats roll off her tongue in a matter of fact way. She won the Free For All in Musselburgh with Alec Patterson’s iron mare Ambro Lobell in 2001. “I reckon I have 504 victories and counting,” Brenda recalls, “but the records from the early days are sketchy. Mrs. Scott of Antrim Stadium helped me collate them some years ago.” On the down side there were tough days amongst all the success. 27 broken bones, 30 odd stitches, severed tendons and ligaments are a sign of her toughness. Each time she came back, her love of racing undaunted. Brenda was in reflective mood when I spoke to her recently. The 59-year-old has managed to keep her youthful looks and it’s hard to believe that Brenda (nee Brenda Dean) has been racing since the days of Secretariat, The Dikler and Johhny Roe. Brothers Gregory, Roddy and Dennis (Dixie) rode jumping ponies to a high standard and Brenda tagged along. Their father Patsy Dean always had a soft spot for a good pacer. Brenda and Westfield were cruising in the lead at Lambeg one night in 1974 when the great Kevock Vale Hero put a leg through her sulky spokes. “It used to happen all the time before they brought out wheel discs.’’ states Brenda calmly. The ensuing accident left the teenager badly smashed up. When her late mother decreed that this harness racing was too dangerous and ordered a halt. Brenda produced a defiant huff and took off to work in the Channel Islands. “I saved all my wages and came home to buy Charlie Chase,” Brenda explained. “My dad went to pick him up at Walter Cunningham’s yard, and bought Little John as well, so we were in business.” Maybe it was the pretty face, maybe the smile never far away, but nowadays Hudson is quick to credit some of the men (it was a very male dominated sport) who helped her along the way. “I was privileged to drive for Bobby and George Hanson,” Brenda recalled. “In the States, Delvin Miller took me under his wing and I was there for six months. I took over Dorney Reveller and Silent Running to race there.” Brenda went on, “Most of Rambling Rover’s success I put down to the fact that one man listened to me complaining that I couldn’t get Rover shod the way I wanted. Robert Steele, of the Lisburn family of vets, actually shod the horse for me and we never looked back.” Brenda enjoyed the harness racing around the main arena at the RDS. In the early 80’s she took a heat with the flashy chestnut Langton Pride while brother Gregory won the final with Ragman. Brenda was second, representing Ireland in the International Ladies Challenge at the Meadowlands in 1999 and represented the UK and Ireland against a USA team a few years later. In 1989 Brenda moved to Dublin and forged a formidable partnership both as a couple and as a training team with Paddy Hudson. They married some years later. With the pair’s innovative and unique approach to conditioning and Brenda’s skills on the track, the two won countless races with Pams Boy, Black in A Flash and Spice Girl, amongst others. Brenda sighs wistfully when she remembers Leckwith Flashman. “He’s the one that got away,” Brenda said.  “I was working my way up the handicap gradually with him. I had him placed to win some big pots, and then I lost him to colic.” Similarly, Hudson was unlucky to lose Kick On last year, another lightly raced improving type. The son of Yankee Lariat had to be euthanised due to complications arising out of a spill at Annaghmore. Paddy Hudson passed away in 2010 and it must have been hard for Brenda to come back to the sport that brought them together. Again, the reinswoman was grateful to Neville Martin who put her up on some decent sorts at that time. "Bet Your Miffed and Angelas Kosmos gave me a lift when I needed it, ‘’ added Brenda. Brenda says that the biggest difference in the racing now and when she started is how the modern horses come to their gait much quicker. “We used to have tight hobbles and special shoes to get them pacing,” Brenda said. “Now they’re doing it free legged.” (Harness racing jargon for without hobbles) The veteran horsewoman thinks the sport is becoming an industry. “Our young people have a chance to make this a career,” Brenda said. “whereas my generation had to work to subsidise the horses.” Was it harder being a woman? “Well, early in my career a few guys tried to frighten me on the track,” Brenda explained. “but I gave as good as I got. It’s nice to see some talented young girls coming up now. In Australia, for example, they have a high percentage of female drivers. With better stewarding than when I started, there’s no reason why a girl couldn’t compete with the best of the men.” In conclusion the accomplished driver is proud that the best horse she drove was Irish bred. Stormy Reveller was by Liam Wallace’s grey Young Commander out of Bobby Hanson’s Springhill Sheba. Brenda goes a bit coy when asked about the subject of retirement. “Kelly (her daughter, actually an actress) says that I’ve said every year for five years that this will be my last.” Brenda laughed. “I was hoping that Kick On would let me go out with a bang, but it wasn’t meant to be.” While Brenda probably thinks she can go on for ever, it is interesting to hear her talk about life after the sulky seat. “I would love to get involved with the integrity side,” Brenda said. “and also, horse welfare.” The Irish Harness Racing Association have that rarest of things now before them, a steward with top level experience – just waiting to be asked. In the short term if there are any harness racing owners out there (old or new to the game) looking for a sympathetic pair of hands for a promising trotter… What a story that would make this summer. By Dan Carlin, for The Irish Field This article was first published on www.theirishfield.ie

County Armagh, Ireland - Annaghmore Raceway saw the best assembly of harness racing coloured horses since the Battle of the Big Horn last week. The hard working committee was rewarded with a bumper attendance with seven well filled races topped by the feature ‘ The Painted Mile ‘ for coloured pacers as the name implies. In the event the fillies' preferential draw meant that the beautifully made mare Keltic Panda (herself a kind of liver and white) reaffirmed the beating she gave the plucky Cinderella Man a few weeks back at Portmarnock.  The draw may just be the difference between these two great rivals, and who knows, they may meet for a third time? Our sporting English raider Dangerous Shock (J Foody ) took third spot. The race was billed as a world record attempt and the 2.01.8 mile recorded was said by a track spokesman to be a WR for a mare on a Half Mile Track. I am told the winner was tested, so all the proprieties have been observed. Jim Watson was the generous race sponsor. The World Record for bays was never in danger in the Grade F and G pace, but Trottin’ Joe Sheridan showed he can still prep a pacer when Springhill KG ran out the two length victor over Johnny Burns’ Cool Dragon (P Loughran) and Coleraine trained Cams Western (R Hanson).  JR (John Richardson) produced the winner in the straight for a cosy enough win in 2.01.7. A few victories can do wonders for a young driver's confidence, and Mark Kane is driving out of his skin at the moment. He can certainly get a tune out of Neville Martin’s Pander Diamond. Pander was speedy sophomore but had rather lost his way in recent seasons, so it’s nice to see return to form for Martin who race plenty of runners at the Armagh venue. Mystical Carbs ( E Hanson ) denied cousin Jimmy Stewart’s Frisco Hold Up for second the time being a half a tick outside the coveted  ‘ 2 minutes ‘. The tenacious Martin Loughran had a double with Urmine se Mai (C to F Grade Le Trot) and Vincennes de Goehl (A and C). Vincennes is a lovely solid, nearly black trotter, his appearance somewhat marred by lots of headgear. Judging by the acceleration he showed the Little People with the Magical Powers have him trotting right. Handsome is as handsome does, they say. Urmine trotted 2.04.2 for his mile, Vincennes de Goehl 3.09.4 for 12 furlongs. Camden Kofi (by Yankee Lariat) justified warm order favouritism in the B to E pace. Cathal Kerrigan barely had to move his hands and will head to Aberystwyth as an Irish Banker. The consistent Patterson runner Belfast Cam was runner – up from End of the Line (D Holian) in 2.01. The winner can go harder. In the Delaney sponsored prep for 2 yos, racing fans were left wondering had they seen the winner of this year’s Ladbrokes Delaney in the shape of Newtown Rock (2.03.1 on his debut). A big laid back son of Rocknroll Hanover with a long loping stride and a low headcheck, this colt looked like he wouldn’t pull you out of bed. Yet when Wallace Junior spoke to him at the half, the response was impressive. Rock quickly put daylight between himself and the more experienced Oakwood Destiny (P Kane Jr) with the Sheridan’s Springhill Ali not disgraced in third. A well place source stated the the connections of Newtown Rock have gone for a nice touch in the Delaney at a fancy price. He could be anything. Next Annaghmore meeting Wed 8th July. By Dan Carlin

1 to 3 of 3
1