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WEST CORK, Ireland - The elimination heats of the Paddy Connolly Memorial Handicap and The Murphy/Heineken Coman Beverages Grand Prix were the feature on the opening day of the 2017 Ballabuidhe Harness Racing Festival. Despite poor weather conditions there was top class fare on offer at this famous venue. John Manning Jnr took the top driving honors steering two winners from the five on the card. Saunders Jubilee opened the Limerick mans account in the third heat of the Connolly Handicap. .At times he has proved a bit of an enigma, but today saw him put in a flawless performance leading from the start and running out an easy five length winner with The Hitman taking the second spot for the final tomorrow. The second leg of his double came in the the top grade heat of the "Grand Prix". This time Manning was on board the striking grey, Wellfield Ghost, and again the winner was sent to the front after the start, and this time there was a yawning seven lengths back to the runner up Cruise Howard who just edged out Kestrels Dot Sammy for second. Luke Kelleher has been a sensation this season and the fifteen year old oozed confidence on Brywins Picasso in heat two of the Connolly. Once the gate had pulled away Kelleher sent "Picasso" to the front and he never looked in any sort of danger leading home by six lengths .The teenager will have "to sleep" on his driving preference in the final as earlier Panam Colt another drive for Kelleher qualified. In the opening heat we were set for a great finish as IB Coyote, Lakeview Panam and Panam Colt were all in contention. Then at the second to last corner, IB Coyote made a slip and came down (thankfully fine after the tumble) leaving Lakeview Panam to win by a length. Sunnyside Kildare and Hail Spartacus (the 2016 winner) went to battle early in the second heat of the Grand Prix and it was only in the final 100 yards that Donal Murphy got the better of the tussle winning by a length. With a better weather forecast for finals day Monday, we can look forward to two opening looking classic finals by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS (No times Available due to technical fault) PADDY CONNOLLY MEMORIAL HEAT ONE 1st J Hurley LAKEVIEW PANAM J Hurley 2nd Kelleher Bros PANAM COLT L Kelleher 3rd L O'Reagan I TOLD YOU SO M Goggin Jnr DIST 1L 6L SP 5/2 5/2 6/1 4 Ran   HEAT TWO 1st O'Farrell/Kelleher BRYWINS PICASSO L Kelleher 2nd S & T O'Reilly RINGO LADY T O'Reilly 3rd M O'Donovan MR SECURITY Owner DIST 6L HD SP 1/2 6/1 8/1 8 Ran   HEAT THREE 1st M Shanahan SAUNDERS JUBILEE J Manning Jnr 2nd J Hill THE HITMAN M Goggin Jnr 3r D McCarthy FAIRDAYS BRET A McCarthy DIST 5L SH SP 5/2 4/1 EV 6 Ran   MURPHY / HEINEKEN COMAN BEVERAGES GRAND PRIX   HEAT ONE 1st S Buckley SUNNYSIDE KILDARE D Murphy 2nd P Hill HAIL SPARTACUS L Kelleher 3rd M O'Brien LLYWNS ALLSTAR Owner DIST 3L 5L SP 4/6 2/1 6/1 5 Ran   HEAT TWO 1st J Manning WELLFIELD GHOST J Manning Jnr 2nd C O'Brien CRUISE HOWARD T O'Leary 3rd K Sheehy KESTRELS DOT SAMMY Owner DIST 7L 1L SP 4/7 2/1 4/1 4 Ran                  

WEST CORK, UK - After a 17 year lapse harness racing returned to the Fishers Cross grass oval on Sunday. The venue which has the Atlantic Ocean as a back drop provided some fantastic fare and the promoter of the event, Liam O Reagan, saw his own runner, I Told You So, winning the opener at Fishers Cross. This scribe was welcomed to the venue by 92-year-old Denis O'Donovan, a member of the committee, and the look of pride on his face just showed how proud the locals were of the return of racing to this tiny hamlet. I Told You so has knocked on the door in his last few runs and got his day in the sun when landing the spoils in the Grade G & G1 pace . Mike Goggin Jnr sent this son of Back In The Saddle pan to the front and despite the late rally from Meadowbranch Matt was not for catching . The O'Reagan and Bennett families flooded the presentation area to welcome home the winner. Cruise Howard bounced back to winning ways in the top Grade Pace. Hail Spartacus and LLywns Allstar set the early fractions on this undulating track. With three furlongs to pace Hail Spartacus hit the front but Timmy O'Leary was waiting in "the long Grass" with cruise Howard and won by two lengths. Chris O'Reilly who heads of to the UK on Monday for the USA VS IRELAND /UK international challenge saw his Rhyds Panache take out an ultra competitive on saddle pace. Cian O'Reilly, a cousin of the winning owner, wasn't waiting about on the son of The One Night Pan and had 6 lengths in hand at the finish . Springhill Doyle was another to win from the front. After an early battle with Mr Security he had things all his own way and stayed on well to win by three lengths from Brywins Picasso . Rhyds Dilemma, imported from the UK in the winter, has been a model of consistency for new owner Derry McCarthy and he collected another win in the Grade E & D Pace. Rokocoko led early doors but was passed by the winner heading out on the final circuit and two lengths was the winning margin . Cupidon De Breteil followed up on his Bandon win when taking the Le Trot. Un Boss tried to make all but Mike Kelleher produced the imposing French trotter to run out a three length winner. The three day Ballabuidhe festival which starts next Sunday, is next on the menu and signals the start of the busiest month of the year in the Irish Harness Racing Season by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS GRADE G & G1 Pace 1st L O Reagan I TOLD YOU SO M Goggin jnr 2nd O'Farrell/Healy MEADOWBRANCH MATT L Kelleher 3rd D Murphy IB A WARRIOR Owner DIST 1l 5l TIME 2.22.8 4 Ran   GRADE F & E Pace 1st S O'Reilly SPRINGHILL DOYLE M O'Reilly 2nd O'Farrell/Kelleher BRTWINS PICASSO M Kelleher 3rd S & T O'Reilly RINGO LADY T O'Reilly DIST 3l 3l TIME 2.20.1 5 Ran   GRADE E & D Pace 1st D McCarthy RHYDS DILEMMA Owner 2nd S Jennings HEATHER BREEZE Owner 3rd A & M Hurley RHYDS HEARTBEAT D Murphy DIST 2l 1l TIME 2.19.3 6 Ran   UNDER SADDLE RACE 1st C O'Reilly RHYDS PANACHE C O'Reilly 2nd D McCarthy FAIRDAYS BRET C O'Driscoll 3rd Kelleher Bros PAN CAM DRIFT O'Quill DIST 6l hd TIME 2.21.7 5 Ran   LE TROT (The Matthew Welton Cup) 1st J Shanahan CUPIDON DE BRETEIL M Kelleher 2nd J O'Mahony UN BOSS J O'Mahony 3rd F Quill Snr VAREINE DU PONT S Quill DIST 3l 6l TIME 3.25.7 5 Ran   GRADE C A & A1 Pace (The P J Connolly Trophy) 1st C O'Brien CRUISE HOWARD T O'Leary 2nd P Hill HAIL SPARTACUS L Kelleher 3rd J Manning Jnr WELLFIELD GHIOST Owner DIST 2l 1l TIME 2.15.7 5 Ran  

WEST CORK, Ireland - In a year when the younger generation of our sport have excelled, Anthony McCarthy joined the list of up and coming stars when landing the final of The Willie Bradfield Memorial Classic on Fairdays Bret at the Ballineen Races held at the famous "Cornfield Oval" in Manch on Sunday . Three elimination heats were ran with three to qualify from each to the grand final. Heat one saw a titanic battle between Hillside Aurelius and Lakeview Panam. Both fought it out to the line with "Aurelius holding off by a head with Springhill Doyle only half a length third. Heat two went the way of Alert Code who followed up on his win in Bandon to lead home Fairdays Bret with The Hitman just holding on for third to book his place in the final. Heat three produced one of the best finishes ever at the famous grass oval with six horses crossing the line at the finish with Camden Corleone holding off long time leader Rhyds Hearbeat by a neck with Hail Spartacus only a short head back in third .This gave Matt O'Reilly a driving double as he also drove Alert Code. In the final 9 pacers went to post with Alert Code the punters choice . Lakeview Panam renewed her battle with Hillside Aurelius, setting a break neck pace up front. They went :29 seconds to the quarter and 1:00 to the half mile pole . Hitting the three quarter pole, Lakeview had poached a three length lead, but now the posse beagan to close. Turning for home Anthony McCarthy produced Fairdays Bret through a wall of horses to win by a length from The Hitman with Hail Spartacus (off a 30 yard trail) a half a length behind. The meets handicapper must have been pleased with his work with only eight lengths between first and last. The winner is owned by Derry McCarthy (no relation of the winning driver) from Drimoleague . IB Coyote winner of the 2016 VDM fillies division for two year olds had a facile win in the Grade G & G1 pace This daughter of Share The Delight and Jill & Jones is co owned by USA owner Bill Donovan, the main sponsor of the upcoming Red John Memorial Weekend. Meadowbranch Demon, fresh from winning in the FFA Pace at the Barney Joyce weekend, continued his rich vein of form holding off Cruise Howard by half a length in the top grade pace. It was an emotional win for the Kelleher family as they collected the trophy in memory of their late parents Tim and Hannah. Sean Kane made the six hour round trip from his base in County Meath for the drive on Ecrin De Bussieres in the three-year-old Le Trot race and landed the odds with consumate ease, beating Extase Des Epines by six lengths . In the Le Trot All Aged race, Cupido De Breteil made all the running to hold off Silvao Bello by two lengths. The winner will now be aimed at The Maven Trotting derby at Lyre on Red John Memorial weekend. The Under Saddle Race went the way of King Wills Arrival with Oisin Quill in the plate .He saw off the early challenges of both Brywins Picasso and Sunnyside Kildare to record a two length winning margin . Racing next week moves to a new venue at Fishers Cross with a 2 30 start time at the venue which is located near Owenahincha Beach. By Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS The Willie Bradfield Memorial Classic  Heat One 1st P Hill HILLSIDE AURELIUS Owner 2nd J Hurley LAKEVIEW PANAM Jamie Hurley 3rd S O'Reilly SPRINGHILL DOYLE M O Reilly DIST HD 1/2L TIME 2.08.4 8 Ran   Heat Two 1st R Joyce ALERT CODE M O'Reilly 2nd D McCarthy FAIRDAYS BRET A McCarthy 3rd J Hill THE HITMAN K Sheehy DIST 2L 2L TIME 2.07.9 8 Ran   Heat Three 1st O'Reilly/Hurley CAMDEN CORLEONE M O'Reilly 2nd A & M Hurley RHYDS HEARTBEAT D Murphy 3rd P Hill HAIL SPARTACUS L Kelleher DIST NK NK TIME 2.09.1 8 Ran   Final 1st D McCarthy FAIRDAYS BRET A McCarthy 2nd J Hill THE HITMAN K SheehyP Hill HAIL SPARTACUS L Kelleher DIST 1L 1/2L TIME 2.04.1 9 Ran   Grade G & G1 Pace (THE WEST END GARAGE CUP) 1st B Donovan/ IB Stables IB COYOTE D Murphy 2nd O'Farrell/Healy MEADOWBRANCH MATT L Kelleher 3rd L O'Reagan I TOLD YOU SO M Goggin Jnr DIST 4L 1 1/2L TIME 2.08.4 5 Ran   LE TROT 3 Year Old 1st O'Mahony/Crowley/O'Brien ECRIN DE BUSSIERES S Kane 2nd Kelleher Bros EXTASE DES EPINES M Kelleher 3rd P Manning EBENE DES BROUETS Owner DIST 6l DIST TIME 3.37.4 3 Ran   LE TROT AGED RACE (THE TOMMY O'BRIEN MEMORIAL CUP) 1st J Shanahan CUPIDON DE BRETEIL M Kelleher 2nd Inishford Syn SILVANO BELLO D Murphy 3rd O'Sullivan/Goggin VAILLANT FORGION M Goggin Jnr DIST 2L 3L TIME 3.23.1 6 Ran   FREE FOR ALL PACE (THE TIM & HANNAH "COOPER" KELLEHER MEMORIAL) 1st Kelleher Bros MEADOWBRANCH DEMON L Kelleher 2nd C O'Brien CRUISE HOWARD T O'Leary 3rd K Sheehy KESTRELS DOT SAMMY Owner DIST 1/2L 3L TIME 2.03.3 3 Ran   SADDLE RACE (THE P J KEOHANE MEMORIAL CUP) 1st F Quill KING WILLS ARRIVAL O Quill 2nd S Buckley SUNNYSIDE KILDARE E Murphy 3rd O'Farrell/ Kelleher BRYWINS PICASSO L Kelleher DIST 2L 3L TIME 2.07.0 3 Ran    

WEST CORK, Ireland - Harness racing returned to the Showgrounds in Bandon after a thirty year lapse for The Old Chapel Meeting which saw a presentation made to Stella McGrath a local girl who was badly injured in a fall in a thoroghbred race last November but ison the road to recovery . It has certainly been a great weekend for Sinead O'Reilly .Firstly her Soocrate Du Noyer won in Portmarnock on Saturday and today Ringo Lady who she owns with husband Timmy, kept the ball rolling in the Grade F & E Pace. The race turned into a battle between Timmy O'Reilly on Ringo Lady and his brother Chris on last weeks winner Lyons Stallone . Brotherly love went out the window in this and Ringo Lady eventually getting the upper hand by half a length. "There are no prisoners taken out there even if my younger brother is involved" said O'Reilly after the race. Cousins Luke Kelleher on Meadowbranch Matt and Patrick Hill on Hillside Aurelius couldnt be separated in the opening Grade G & G1 Pace. Matt led from the start and saw off the early intentions of I told You So .Heading out on the final circuit Hillside Aurelius loomed large and both drivers were all out at the finish and after a photo finish a dead heat was the judges call. There was local success in the Grade F & E Pace. Mr Security and Hell Boy were to the fore for the opening two laps and with two furlongs to pace veteran Mr Security had gone two lengths clear but Alert Code and Jason O Reilly were tracking the leader and swooped in the home straight to pull five lengths clear at the finish. The winner is owned by Richard Joyce a member of the Old Chapel committee . Tarnao Josselyn has been a model of consistency all season and racked up another win in the Le Trot French Trotters race. Cupidon De Breteil led for most of the race but was reeled in by "TJ" going out on the final circuit and was an easy three length winner . Racing concluded with a win for Meadowbranch Demon in the Grade C B & A Pace. Rhyds Destiny made the running from Sunnyside Kildare . Out on the final lap Mike Kelleher produced "Demon" and the pair were not for catching and sent punters home happy as he was favourite in the betting ring . With The Barney Joyce Memorial weekend in Portmarnock next weekend there is no loacl action but on Sunday 23rd July The "Cornfield Oval" in Manch is the venue for the annual Ballineen Races by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS GRADE G & G1 PACE The Brian Wilson Cup (1 Mile 350 yards) 1st P Hill HILLSIDE AURELIUS Owner & O'Farrell 2nd Healy MEADOWBRANCH MATT L Keleher 3rd L O'Reagan I TOLD YOU SO M Goggin Jnr DIST DEAD HEAT 6l TIME 2.52.7 7 Ran   GRADE F & E PACE The Paddy Desmond & Jerry O Mahony Memorial ( 1 Mile 350 yards) 1st S & T O'Reilly RINGO LADY T O'Reilly 2nd C O'Reilly LYONS STALLONE Owner 3rd J Hurley LAKEVIEW PANAM J Hurley DIST 1/2l 1l TIME 2.46.1 8 Ran   GRADE F & E PACE The Noel Ryan Trophy (1 Mile 350 yards) 1st R Joyce ALERT CODE M O'Reilly 2nd M O'Donovan MR SECURITY Owner 3rd M O'Brien HELL BOY Owner DIST 5l 2l TIME 2.48.3 7 Ran   GRADE D & C PACE The Mick Twomey & Donie Barry Memorial (1 Mile 350 yards) 1st M O'Brien LLYWNS ALLSTAR Owner 2nd D McCarthy RHYDS DILEMMA Owner 3rd C O'Reilly RHYDS PANACHE Owner DIST 1l 1/2l TIME 2.45.6 7 Ran   LE TROT The P J Collins Memorial Cup ( 1 Mile 1000 yards) 1st F Quill TARNAO JOSSELYN S Quill 2nd J Shanahan CUPIDON DE BRETEIL M Kelleher 3r J O'Mahony UN BOSS J O'Mahony DIST 3l 3l TIME 3.51.3 7 Ran   GRADE C B & A PACE The John D Crowley Memorial ( 1 Mile 350 yards ) 1st Kelleher Bros MEADOWBRANCH DEMON M KelleherShanahan 2nd M Cock RHYDS DESTINY T O'Leary 3rd S Buckley SUNNYSIDE KILDARE T Murphy DIST 3l 2l TIME 2.41.2 6 Ran          

WEST CORK, Ireland - Chris O'Reilly took the driving honours when driving a double on his home track in Drimoleague on Sunday. O'Reilly is also is also a member of the Drimoleague Harness Racing Club who promoted the event as a fund raiser for Cancer Connect which provides transport for cancer patients to Cork Hospitals . Lyons Stallone set the ball rolling for O'Reilly in the grade F & E Pace. This son of Silky Stallone took up the running from a number one draw and was never headed seeing off a late challenge from Armoured Bear to win by three lengths. Later in the afternoon O'Reilly completed his brace on Rhyds Panachein the Grade D & C Pace. Again he employed front running tactics on this son of The One Night Pan .The Hitman joined issue with three furlongs remaining but Panache was never in any danger running out a three length winner. "My horses have been running well enough but lady luck has nor been on my side but I got a few breaks today and it keeps the show on the road, " said Chris, who last December became the first West Cork driver to win on US soil in Pompano Beach . Two of the younger generation of drivers on the circuit were on the score sheet today. Anthony Mc Carthy drove his first winner under rules on Fairdays Bret in the Grade F Pace. Ringo Lady and Mr Security had a battle royal for the opening two laps but McCarthy produced the winner on the run to the line and got the verdict by a length from Mr Security with Ringo Lady a head futher back in third. John O'Mahony gave Un Boss a peach of a drive in the Le Trot race for French Trotters. Teenager O'Mahony was quick off the gate and when his rivals lost ground he kept this nine year old at his game and was flattering his rivals with four lengths in hand at the wire. The top Grade Grade B & A Pace had only three runners but it turned out a fantastic renewal. Kestrels Dot Sammy took over from Sunnyside Kildare after a furlong. Normally these small field races tun into Cat and Mouse tactics but not this one. George Deane Memorial winner Hail Spartacus when to war with the leader and Sunnyside Kildare likewise . With two furlongs remaining Hail Spartacus looked a winner but Kieran Sheehy on Kestrels Dot Sammy had a little left in the locker and won by two lengths. Racing opened with a win for the Jennings family with their home bred Heather Breeze. Sam Jennings hit the front with this son of Best sunshine to win by four lengths. Next week the action moves to Lisangle with racing on Saturday evening having a 3.30 Start Time. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS GRADE G & G1 PACE The Acorn Life Shield 1st S Jennings HEATHER BREEZE Owner 2nd O'Mahony / O Brien FAME EARNED J O MahonyTJ 3rd O'Farrell MEADOWBRANCH MATT P Hill DIST 4l 10l TIME 2.21.7 5 Ran   GRADE F PACE The Timothy & Catherine O Reilly Cup   1st D McCarthy FAIRDAYS BRET A McCarthy 2nd M O'Donovan MR SECURITY Owner 3rd S & T O'Reilly RINGO LADY T O Reilly DIST 1l HD TIME 2.2.9 7 Ran   GRADE F & E PACE The Black Forest Cup 1st O'Reilly/ O Driscoll LYONS STALLONE C O Reilly 2nd J Boyle ARMOURED BEAR Owner 3rd M Healy BRYWINS STARSHIP Owner DIST 3l 2l TIME 2.20.0 5 Ran   LE TROT GRADE E TO B 1st J O'Mahony UN BOSS J O'Mahony 2nd Inishford Syn SILVANO BELLO T Murphy 3rd D Finn ALINEKA DARCHE D Murphy DIST 4l 10l TIME 3.25.1 4 Ran   GRADE D & C PACE The Duggan Agri Contractor Cup 1st C O'Reilly RHYDS PANACHE Owner 2nd J Hill THE HITMAN M Goggin Jnr 3rd Hegarty/Hurley MAITHA BUACHAILL J Hurley TIME 2.19.1 6 Ran   GRAD B & A PACE The James O Driscoll Memorial Cup 1st K Sheehy KESTRELS DOT SAMMY Owner 2nd S Buckley SUNNYSIDE KILDARE D Murphy 3rd P Hill HAIL SPARTACUS Owner DIST 2l 1l TIME 2.18.2    

WEST CORK, Ireland - The wealth of talent in the French Trotters division held by the IB Stables was clearly on display at Dunmanway on Sunday where the Baltimore based yard took both divisions of the Le Trot. Bolero De La Fye the newest recruit to IB looked head and shoulders above his four rivals in the Grade F & E Un Boss and Blanpain De Fol both shared the lead for the first six furlongs but Donal Murphy was oozing with confidence on the winner taking it up and the winning margin of two lengths flattered his rivals . The winner is owned by Aidan Hayes who organises the transport logistics for IB. For good measure the second Murphy runner Silvano Bello finished second. The second win came in the high grade trot. Tarnao Josselyn was sent off favourite in the betting bureau but found Alinka Darche a winner in Portmarnock last week was again waiting in the wings striking a blow with two furlongs to trot and again had two lengths in hand. Chelsie O Driscoll rode her first winner under rules in the saddle race. King Wills Arrival tried to make all here but was reeled in by Fairdays Bret who was having his first run for new owner Derry McCarthy in the final 100 yards to give 16 year old Chelsie her first winner . It was a good day for Derry McCarthy who turned out Rhyds Dilemma to land the Grade D & C Pace. Llywns Allstar set a blistering pace and looked to have shaken off all comers but Mc Carthy produced Rhyds Dilemma in the final furlong to win by a head in a blanket finish. Cruise Howard returned to winning ways in the top Grade pace .IB Mohican led early doors . Hail Spartacus had edged closer and led heading out for the final circuit .All the while Timmy O Leary was waiting for the moment to mount his challenge and done so in the final eighth to win by two lengts. Brywins Starship with Mike Healy in the bike made his seasonal debut a winning one . Healy who trains adjacent to the track led from the start and the winner looks like a very decent type. Alert Code took the opening Grade G & G1Pace . Meadowbranch Matt led for most of the race but surrendered that lead to the winner with Heather Breeze running on to finish second . Next week the action moves to Drimoleague one of the best run meetings on the circuit. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS GRADE G & G1 PACE 1st - R Joyce ALERT CODE M O'Reilly 2nd - S Jennings HEATHER BREEZE Owner 3rd - P Hill HILLSIDE AURAILEUS Owner DIST 1/2L 1/2L TIME 2.38.8 5 Ran GRADE F & E TROT 1st - A Hayes BOLERO DE LA FYE D Murphy 2nd - Innishford Syn SILVANO BELLO T Murphy 3rd - J O'Mahony UN BOSS Owner DIST 2L 2L TIME 2.38.6 5 Ran GRADE F & E PACE 1st - M Healu BRYWINS STARSHIP Owner 2nd - M O'Brien HELLBOY Owner 3rd - T O'Reilly RINGO LADY Owner DIST 1/2L HD TIME 2.37.8 7 Ran UNDER SADDLE 1st - D McCarthy FAIRDAYS BRET C O'Driscoll 2nd - F Quill KING WILLS ARRIVAL O'Quill 3rd - S Buckley SUNNYSIDE KILDARE E Murphy DIST 1/2L 1L TIME 2.26.8 5 Ran GRADE D & C PACE 1st - D McCarthy RHYDS DILEMMA Owner 2nd - M O Brien LLYWNS ALLSTAR Owner 3rd - J Hill THE HITMAN M Goggin Jnr DIST HD 1L TIME 2.36.2 6 Ran GRADE D C & A TROT 1st - D Finn ALINKA DARCHE D Murphy 2nd - F Quill TARNAO JOSSELYN S Quill 3rd - IB Stables TENOR MESLOIS T Murphy DIST 2L 2L TIME 2.36.1 5 Ran GRADE C B & APACE 1st - C O'Brien CRUISE HOWARD T O'Leary 2nd - P Hill HAIL SPARTACUS L Kelleher 3rd - F Quill IB MOHICAN S Quill DIST 2L 2L TIME 2.32.0 6 Ran          

"We thought we would get a good entry, but over 120 was beyond our target" said Caroline Collins of the Red John Memorial Committee when the final entry lists for The Red John Memorial Pace , The Maven Trotters Derby and The Oakwood Stud Three Year old grass pacing championships were published this week. "Since Bill Donovan one of the leading owners on the USA harness racing scene came to us with a major sponsorship deal early in the year we have worked hard to make this happen"added Collins. "At first people we a bit sceptical about the format of the three classics which sees a nomination fee plus two sustaining payments but with support from the ITHRF and the IHRA, but owners have grasped with the idea and we look forward to a weekend of top class racing at a new grass venue in Lyre Clonakilty. " " To be fair, Ger Hegarty, who owns the venue, is a horse owner and he is making improvements to the field. People must understand that unlike Portmarnock we are starting with a green field and must turn this into a harness racing amphitheatre .There is a natural grandstand in the field which provides a panoramic view of the beautiful local country side" "The IHRA have looked after the clerical side of things which have given us more time to plan the day to day organising of the weekend. Booking of hotels in the area has been brisk but with the help of Clonakilty Chamber of Commerce we have a full list of all types of accomadation to ensure those travelling will be able to taste the local hospitality" said Collins. The next sustaining payment comes on June 20th. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink    

WEST CORK, Ireland - Hail Spartacus gave 15-year-old Luke Kelleher his first classic success when landing the George Deane Memorial at Dunmanway West Cork on Sunday writes Tim Kelleher. Three elimination heats were held with two horses going forward to the final. In the opening heat County Limerick raider Saunders Jubilee was "on the busses" in the betting ring and this son of Play With A Full Deck landed the odds but only just .He led from the start but just held on from Lyons Stallone who only saw daylight in the final 100 yards but the post came in time for Jubilee. Heat two went to Llywns Allstar who loves the front and driver Mike O Brien kept this son of Hasty Hall about his business. Favourite Camden Corleone looked a winner with two furlongs to pace but "Allstar" pulled out a little bit extra two win by two lengths. Cruise Howard second last week was the punters choice in the third heat and was put to sleep for most of the ten furlong contest by Timmy O'Leary and oozed to a comprehensive 3 length winning margin . In the final Cruise Howard was again the punters fancy despite a 50 yard handicap . Saunders Jubilee and Lyons Stallone led for the first mile of the contest. Cruise Howard and Hail Spartacus a 30 yard trailer soon joined issue and turning for home Hail Spartacus wore down his rival to give Luke Kelleher his first major success on the circuit . The winner who won the Grand Prix at this venue last year a son of Swingman and Meadoebranch Katie was bred by his owners the Hill Family who run Hillside Farms one of the top breeding nurseries in Cork. "He's as tough as nails and runs with his heart on his sleeve, " A delighted Pete Hill told the post race press briefing. The Trotteur Francais race produced another epic battle. Tarnao Josselyn second on the beach had everything bar the kitchen thrown at him by his six rivals but saw off all the challengers to win from lVaillant Forgion. Blanpain Le Fol led from the start but the winner took it up after two furlongs and was neverheaded. King Wills Arrival made it a double for the Quill family when taking the low grade under saddle race .Sunnyside Kildare tried to take on king Wills Arrival after a lap, but Oisin Quill was not giving away the top spot and as Brywins Picasso also loomed large but the US import held on by a neck. Meadowbranch Demon took the high grade under saddle race. Wellfield Ghost and Rhyds Destiny played battle up front but "The Iron Horse" showed why he earbned that name grinding down the pace setters to ease to a 3 length win. Coalford Bruce took the Grade G & G1 Pace for catch driver Patrick Hill . This son of Rogue Hall has been "tough"to keep right but showed his true colours despite an early break All roads lead to Dundalk Stadium next week for the big PMU meeting, by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS (ALL RACES 1 Mile 300 yards GEORGE DEANE MEMORIAL HEAT ONE GRADE F & E 1st M Shanahan SAUNDERS JUBILEE J Manning Jnr 2nd O'Driscoll / O'Reilly LYONS STALLONE C O'Reilly 3rd J Shanahan FAIRDAYS BRET M Kelleher DIST 1/2l 3l TIME 2.38.5 6 Ran HEAT TWO 1st M O'Brien LLYWNS ALLSTAR Owner  2nd  O'Reilly/Hurley CAMDEN CORLEONE M O'Reilly 3rd F Quill IB MOHICAN F Quill Jnr DIST 2l NK TIME 2.37.8 5 Ran HEAT THREE 1st C O Brien CRUISE HOWARD T O'Leary 2nd P Hill HAIL SPARTACUS L Kelleher 3rd C O'Reilly RHYDS PANACHE Owner DIST 3l 2l TIME 2.39.8 5 Ran FINAL FINAL 1st P Hill HAIL SPARTACUS L Kelleher 2nd C O Brien CRUISE HOWARD T O'Leary O'Reilly /Hurley CAMDEN CORLEONE M O'Reilly DIST 3/4l 5l TIME 2.36.6 6 Ran LOW GRADE UNDER SADDLE 1st F Quill KING WILLS ARRIVAL O Quill 2nd O Farrell /Kelleher BRYWINS PICASSO L Kelleher 3rd S Buckley SUNNYSIDE KILDARE E Murphy DIST 1/2l 3l TIME 2.37.0 4 Ran HIGH GRADE UNDER SADDLE 1st Kelleher Bros MEADOWBRANCH DEMON L Kelleher 2nd J Shanahan RHYDS DESTINY M R Shanahan 3rd J Manning WELLFIELD GHOST R Manning DIST 3l 1/2l TIME 2.32.6 4 Ran GRADE G & G1 1st J Shanahan COALFORD BRUCE P Hill 2nd J Payne GET ROCKIN J Manning Jnr 3rd S Jennings HEATHER BREEZE Owner DIST 3l 3l TIME 2.39.8 8 Ran TROTTEUR FRANCAIS 1st F Quill TARNAO JOSSELYN F Quill Jnr 2nd O'Sullivan / Goggin VAILLANT FORGION M Goggin Jnr 3nd F Quill VA REINE DU PONT S Quill DIST 2l 1/2l TIME 2.53.7 7 Ran                      

WEST CORK, Ireland - Seamus Quill took the driving honours when recording two winners at the Corn Field Oval in Manch on Sunday. Va Reine Du Pont kicked off the brace for the Kenmare based reinsman. Blanpain Le Fol and last weeks winner Cupidon De Breteil made the running in the mile and a quarter trot. With four furlongs to trot Quill gave the winner the office and led the field.Turning for home the field began to close in but Va Reine Du Pont held on from Valiant Forgion in a blanket finish. Quill completed the double in the next a grade F E & D Pace. King Wills Arrival followed up on his win on the beach last week getting home a length in front of Fairdays Bret with Lyons Stallone a futher half back in third . Racing opened with a very smart performance from newcomer Earnies Umpire .Coalford Bruce made the running but Matt O Reilly took it up after the opening half mile and won in a manner that would suggest that a bright career is in front of him. This three year old son of Earned Income and Elizabeth Ann holds entries in both the Barney Joyce Memorial and the Oakwood Stud three year old grass pacing Championship and was bred by Tadhg O'Reilly. Meadowbranch Demon now an 11 year old recorded his 40th career win in the top grade pace. Cruise Howard led off the gate but was joined and passed by Rhyds Destiny in the opening half. Heading out on the final circuit Mike Kelleher edged Demon closer and on the back straight hit the front. Cruise Howard put in a late rally but "The iron Horse" was not for catching. "We normally wouldnt race him every week but he came out of his run in Inchydoney fine and we probably go for the free for all in Dundalk." commented winning driver Mike Kelleher. Rhyds Heartbeat owned by Angela and Martin Hurley was a trap to line winner in the Grade D & C Pace. On his home track, Donal Murphy set the winner alight early doors, and despite the best efforts of favourite Camden Corleone, this son of Hasty Hall was not going to be denied. Next week the action moves to Dunmanway for the first of the big Summer handicaps. The George Deane Memorial in memory of the former president of the ITHRF is the first leg in the handicap "triple crown" on the West Cork circuit and will probably have three heats and a grand final with a full supporting programme. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS GRADE G & G1 PACE 1st O'Reilly / Joyce EARNIES UMPIRE M O'Reilly 2nd J Shanahan COALFORD BRUCE M Kelleher 3rd S Jennings HEATHER BREEZE Owner DIST 2l 3l TIME 2.05.7 8 Ran LE TROT GRADE E D & C 1st F Quill Snr VA REINE DU PONT S Quill 2nd O Sullivan / Goggin VALIANT FORGION M Goggin Jnr 3rd J Shanahan CUPIDON DE BRETEIL M Kelleher DIST SH 1/2l TIME 2.50.4 6 Ran   GRADE F E & D PACE 1st F Quill Snr KING WILLS ARRIVAL S Quill 2bd J Shanahan FAIRDAYS BRET M Kelleher 3rd O'Reilly / O Driscoll LYONS STALLONE C O'Reilly DIST 1l 1/2l TIME 2.05.6 5 Ran   GRADE D & C PACE 1st 1A & M Hurley RHYDS HEARTBEAT D Murphy 2nd O Reilly / Hurley CAMDEN CORLEONE M O Reilly 3rd J Hill THE HITMAN M Goggin Jnr DIST 1/2L 1/2L TIME 2.07.8 5 Ran   GRADE B A & A1 Pace 1st - Kelleher Bros MEADOWBRANCH DEMON M Kelleher 2nd - C O Brien CRUISE HOWARD T O Leary 3rd - J Shanahan RHYDS DESTINY L Kelleher DIST NK 2l 4 Ran        

WEST CORK, Ireland - It was a good day for father and son combination Mike and Luke Kelleher who both drove a winner on the opening day of the 2017 West Cork Harness racing season at Inchadoney Beach on Sunday.   Luke Kelleher, who drove his initial winner in Portmarnock a few weeks ago, steered his first winner in West Cork in the opening Grade G & G1 Pace on Panam Colt.   IB Coyote the 2016 VDM 2 year old fillies champion was all the rage to continue on her winning ways and was an early leader.   With two furlongs to pace Panam Colt began to close and hit the front in the last eighth of a mile to win by two lengths.   Meadowbranch Demon, so often the "cash cow" for the Kelleher Bros, delivered again in the top grade pace.   Cruise Howard and the winner set the pace and were joined by Wellfield Ghost at the two furlong pole.   The order remained the same entering the final quarter. Turning for home, Camden Corleone joined in, but Meadowbranch Demon was not for catching and held on from the fast finishing Rhyds Destiny with Wellfield Ghost staying on for third.   "He's just like Forrest Gump, just wants to run" said Kelleher about the winner.   The Le Trot for French bred trotters produced the best finish of the day.   Those in the know betting wise "lumped on" Tarnao Josselyn and looked to have got it right when he was produced in the final eighth of a mile to challenge newcomer Cupidon De Breteil, but Matt O'Reilly sat motionless on the John Shanahan trained bay and held on to win by a short head.   Only four went to post in the Grade D & C, but it was a real competitive affair where Western Dreamer held off challenges from all and sundry and the eleven-year-old enjoyed his day in the sun, holding off Rhyds Hearbeat.   Finbarr Quill Jnr , the "pin up driver" in West Cork, was seen at his best on King Wills Arrival in the grade F & E pace. Fairdays Bret set a quick pace but was reeled in by the inner with two furlongs to pace and won from the unlucky Lyons Stallone,   Next Sunday the action moves to the Cornfield Oval in Manch for the first grass meeting on the circuit.   by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink   RESULTS GRADE G & G1 PACE 1. Kelleher Bros PANAM COLT L Kelleher 2. Bill Donovan/IB Stables IB COYOTE D Murphy 3. J Payne GET ROCKIN M Payne DIST 2l 3l TIME 2.12.1 6 Ran   GRADE F & E PACE 1. F Quill Snr KING WILLS ARRIVAL F Quill Jnr 2. O Reilly/ O Driscoll LYONS STALLONE C O Reilly 3. J Shanahan FAIRDAYS BRET M Kelleher DIST 2l 3l TIME 2.12.4 5 Ran   GRADE D & C PACE 1. P J Cleary WESTERN DREAMER S Quill 2. A & M Hurley RHYDS HEARTBEAT D Murphy 3. O Farrell/Kelleher Bros BRYWINS PICASSO M Kelleher DIST 1/2l 1l TIME 2.13.4 4 Ran   Le Trot Grade F E D & C 1. J Shanahan CUPIDON DE BRETEIL M O Reilly 2. F Quill Snr TARNAO JOSSELYN S Quill 3. P Hill BRUTENOR Owner DIST SH 2l TIME 2.17.7 7 Ra   GRADE B & A Pace 1. Kelleher Bros MEADOWBRANCH DEMON M Kelleher 2. J Shanahan/J Mycock RHYDS DESTINY L Kelleher 3. J Manning WELLFIELD GHOST Owner DIST C2l 1l TIME 2.09.3  

WEST CORK, Ireland - The 2017 Harness racing season opens this coming Sunday, May 14th at the beautiful Inchydooney Beach venue just a few miles outside Clonakilty. This unique venue sees the Blue Flag Beach transformed into an amphitheatre for standardbred pacers and trotters. Once the tide makes its way out towards the Atlantic the track will be put in place and provides one of the finest half mile circuits any where in the world . With tidal conditions racing gets under way at 12.45 PM. Following on from the annoucncement of the major sponsorship deal for The Red John Memorial in August and the success of the French Trotters program, there is a real "feel good" factor to the sport for the coming season. Now to the equine stars. In recent years the top grade pacers have been a scarce commodity and this season the likely stars include Meadowbranch Demon, Cruise Howard and Rhyds Destiny, who will be joined by Wellfield Ghost, a winner in Portmarnock last week, the versatile Maithi Buachill, Sunnyside Kildare and the recently imported Rhyds Panache. As mentioned earlier, the imported French trotters have become very popular and along with the aged horses Sivano Be llo, Rocky Atout, Adagio de Cebe, and Alienka Darche just a few of new addition with the three-year-old french trotters imported to race in their own age group. Seven of these three-year-olds have been bought by West Cork/ Kerry owners and they bring a new freshness to our proogrammes . A lot of interest will be on the younger pacers who raced in aged racing last season . Among these are IB A Magacian, Lakeview Panam and Hillside Aurelious, who no doubt will improve in their four-year-old season. The Hitman, who won the George Deane Memorial last year, still looks ahead of the handicap and could be one to watch in the final handicaps during the year. Following the Inchydoney meet, racing returns to Fishers Cross on Sunday the 21st followed by the First ITHRF Association Day on the 28th. So all roads lead to the beach at Inchydoney on Sunday with a 12.45 PM  start time and as they, "Time and tide wait for no man" Details of fixtures, entries and news can be found on the ITHRF website www.harnessracingcork.com. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink

Harnesslink’s Ireland correspondent, Tim Kelleher, has worked with prominent harness racing owner Bill Donovan, in presenting the following “history of Maven” story. Kelleher and the committee for the Red John Memorial Weekend in Cork, Ireland, August 19th and 20th, have worked out a wonderful sponsorship arrangement with Bill Donovan for the big weekend that includes the inaugural Maven Trotters Derby. Both the Red John Memorial Pace and the Maven Trotters Derby will each race in the final for a purse of $21,000, the richest races ever in the history of harness racing in Ireland. “It is so great that Bill Donovan has stepped up and is helping sponsor these races,” Kelleher said. “We look forward to having him with us in West Cork come this August, especially to present the blanket and trophy to the first winner of the Maven Trotters Derby. “Bill was gracious enough, Kelleher explained, “to agree to tell this story on the history of one of the greatest trotting mares ever, Maven.” Bill Donovan purchased her for $37,000 at the 2010 Lexington Sale. Her original name was "Bella Topona", which while it sounds nice, Donovan was horrified to learn it meant "beautiful rat" in Italian. Her dam was M Stewart and as everyone knows Martha Stewart is the Maven of the kitchen, that became her new name. Maven was on the small side and was slightly toed out as a yearling. Her sire, the Triple Crown winning Glidemaster, only had one crop to race and at the time of the sale, they were judged to be a mediocre bunch and generally were not well received. However, Maven had a great producing maternal family and that's what attracted Donovan to her most. In March of her two-year-old year, trainer Jonas Czernyson was challenged by this young filly in a battle of wills. Maven was simply not cooperating and was falling behind her contemporaries. Jonas believed she had the speed but he was at wit's end trying to get her to keep her mind on business and to stop fighting him. He decided to take her out of formal training and for the next month she jogged every day on a one mile straight training strip at the Sunshine Meadows facility in Florida. At the end of a month, he took her back to the regular training track and she jogged off like she was a seasoned performer. Now that she was cooperating, she advanced in her training and it soon became evident that she had a great deal of potential. After two less than spectacular qualifiers, she turned heads when she went out and won her first four starts, two of them in track record performances. Due to her behavior issues in March, she was lightly staked at two but went on to win 8 of her 11 starts that year, taking a record of 2,1:56f. In her three-year-old season's debut, a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Meadows, she had the sport buzzing when she handily defeated the heavily favored, two-year-old trotting filly champion, Check Me Out. That race portended a great season ahead where the two battled each other for honors. A month later, in a thrilling and furious stretch drive, Maven just missed nipping her rival at the wire for a win in the $560,000 Goldsmith Maid. In early August, the Hambletonian Oaks Final was expected to be the showdown between these two fierce competitors. Check Me Out was coming to this classic event off a five-race win streak, including a win in her Oaks elimination the prior week. Maven was coming in off a four-race win streak that included the fastest Oaks elimination. Around the last turn, Check Me Out had the lead with Maven making her trademark first over move when Check Me Out made a break, came to the outside and interfered with Maven sending her too on a break. This was a most disappointing end to what was expected to be a stretch duel for the ages. Maven rebounded off that loss with a record breaking win in the Moni Maker Trot. That win was followed by four second place finishes. Many thought that Maven had lost her luster. Maven went off as third choice in the Breeders Crown for 3YO Filly Trotters. Most were expecting a win by Check Me Out to be her crowning achievement for the year. What they didn't expect was for Maven to hit another gear and blow right by Check Me Out to trot to an easy win over her highly-regarded rival. Maven ended the year with an easy win in the American National Stake, in Chicago. She was given the winter off to prepare for a much anticipated four-year-old season. Maven debuted in the first leg of the Miss Versatility series in late May. She won easy and followed that up with wins in the elimination and final of the Armbro Flight stake, then two more wins in legs of the Miss Versatility. She looked invincible, but as fate would have it, she experienced a bout of illness and bad luck, winning only one of her next four starts. The most stinging defeat came in the Muscle Hill Trot at Vernon, where she finished fifth to her stablemate, Dorsay. In her next start, the Miss Versatility Final over the half mile Delaware, Ohio track, Maven for the first time all year, Maven was not sent off as the favorite. Perhaps, as bettors had known her defeat in the Muscle Hill was due to a flat tire on her sulky, they may not have lost confidence in her. Driver Yannick Gingras was on a mission that day in Delaware. The prior year, he drove Maven in the Buckette 3 YP Filly Trot and was a heavy favorite. Her connections were expecting a world record performance. Well, there was a world record performance in that race, but it wasn't Maven's, as the Ron Burke trained speed demon Bluff was able to be rated by her first-time driver, Tim Tetrick, and after a moderate half, this speedy filly stole off while Gingras was overconfident and unhurried sitting in fourth. By the time Gingras got Maven rolling, it was too late and the stretch was too short. Bluff had three-quarters of a length on Maven at the wire and the teletimer showed 1:54 flat, a new world record for three-year-old filly trotters over a half-mile track. Remembering that race of a year ago, Gingras wasted no time and sent Maven right to the top, winging past the quarter in 26.4, a breather to the half in 55:4, Gingras stepped on the gas up the backside, flying past the three-quarter pole in 1:23.4 and then opening up and overpowering her competition to trot home in 28 seconds flat for an all age, all sex world race mile of 1:51.4h! This was truly one of the most remarkable trotting races ever. Maven's next start was a win in the Allerage Mares Trot at Lexington, followed by an easy win in her elimination for the Breeders Crown. In the Final, Maven swept to an easy win over a sloppy track. Maven's next race, was meant to be a major test. She was going to race against the boys for the first time. The question her Swedish born trainer was asking, could Maven handle the boys and would she be competitive in one of the world's greatest race, the Elitloppet, raced in Jonas Czernyson's native Sweden. Facing a field that included the 2012 Hambletonian winner, Market Share, as well as such outstanding performers as Uncle Peter, Mister Herbie, Guccio and My MVP; Maven took the lead past the half but could not withstand Market Share's stretch drive and finished a very credible second. After the race, Czernyson and Gingras conferred and it was decided Maven was indeed capable of taking on the world's best in Sweden the following May. It was decided Maven would make her five-year-old debut in the Miami Valley Distaff. After three qualifying races designed to tighten her for the challenges ahead, Maven faced a field of lady trotters and proceeded to leave them in her dust, as she went wire to wire in track record time, winning as she pleased. Driver, Yannick Gingras, wanted to give her another race before she shipped to Sweden, fearing three weeks between races and only one start might prove to be a disadvantage. Trainer Jonas Czernyson ruled otherwise. Maven made the journey to Solvalla. Sweden proud to represent the USA against a field of the world's finest trotters. Most fans do not realize what an arduous trip it is for a horse to make a transatlantic journey. A long flight, followed by a long ship via truck to a country where everything is seemingly different, not just the language. Water, feed, track surfaces and training methods are often different than what one finds at home. While it takes a human a day or two to shake off jet lag, it can take a horse up to a week or longer. Maven arrived in Sweden a week before the race and seemed to acclimate well to her new surroundings. Everything looked good for the race, until the draw. Maven drew the six hole in an eleven-horse field that included three trailers. The style of racing in Europe is much more aggressive than in the U.S. Gingras spent hours watching replays of prior Elitloppet races, as well as other races over the Solvalla track. The six-post position basically dictated a race on the outside for the whole mile and that's how it shook out. Maven was third over and around the last turn made a big three wide move that looked like it might carry her to victory but she tired a bit in the stretch and finished a very good third. She clearly was not at her peak going into the second heat and fought hard to finish sixth. Although her connections were disappointed, they were all very proud of the filly who certainly made an account of herself and proved she belonged with the world's finest. Upon her return to the United States, Maven was clearly not herself. The trip had definitely taken its toll and it was a month before Maven made an appearance. She was not herself and only won one race, an overnight, in her next seven appearances. Meanwhile, her owner Bill Donovan had decided to get out of the breeding business and announced he would be dispersing his Stirling Brook Farms broodmare band at the fall Harrisburg Sale. Donovan gave much thought to Maven and decided it would be a wise business move to offer her for sale as well. He thought her best races might be behind her and the fact he was getting out of the breeding business meant she should have a new home. Maven was entered in the Harrisburg Sale on the first of September. After two more lackluster performances, Donovan made a very controversial decision. He asked Ron Burke to take over training Maven. Burke had trained horses for Donovan for several years and had had good success. It was not unusual for him to change trainers when a horse was not racing well. Donovan had three dozen horses with nine different trainers. He reasoned Burke's different and tougher training regimen might "wake up" Maven. As it was, she would mainly be viewed as a broodmare prospect at Harrisburg. If Burke could win a race or two with Maven, then perhaps prospective buyers would recognize her future racing potential, as well. If that happened her value would increase. Jonas Czernyson was crushed by the move. Donovan gave him full credit for developing Maven and freely stated that Maven would never have been Maven, without Jonas's tremendous patience and training skills. There was a firestorm of criticism on the web about the trainer change. Donovan stood firm and issued a statement proclaiming that his operation was a business and this was totally a business decision, that was his right to make. The criticism continued but was soon silenced when Burke sent Maven to the Muscle Hill Trot at Vernon Downs. The stellar field included the 2013 Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician. Maven and Gingras wasted no time in moving around her major foe and never stopping to win the race in track record time. The sport's media declared that Maven was back, but in five days she would enter the sales ring at Harrisburg. A few days before the Muscle Hill, Donovan got a call from a Swedish sales agent. Would he sell Maven prior to the sale? Donovan replied he would for $400,000.00. The buyers wanted an assurance that the sale would be honored were Maven to win the Muscle Hill. Donovan agreed, but he wanted assurances the buyers would go through with the sale, even if she lost the race. It was determined that the money would be wired from Sweden on Friday, to arrive at Donovan's bank on Monday. The Muscle Hill was being raced Saturday. Maven won. The money was not wired and Donovan withdrew his sale price as the buyers did not live up to their agreement. Monday was the first day of the Harrisburg Sale during which the premier yearlings were offered. While the excitement surrounded these royally bred, it seemed everybody was talking about Maven. Indeed, one of the sport's top media outlets created the "Maven Derby" and offered odds on who the prospective buyers might be. Their headline blared, "Who will win the Maven Derby?" People were opining not only about who would buy Maven, but how much she would fetch. Donovan consigned Maven through Dave Reid's Preferred Equine Marketing agency. On the night before Maven sold, Donovan and Reid discussed what everybody else seemed to be talking about, how much and who. Reid bet Donovan a dinner that Maven would bring at least $600,000.00. They both agreed the most likely purchaser would be a patron of trainer Jimmy Takter. Saturday, early in the afternoon, Maven stepped into the sales ring. The best description of what happened next can be found in most every racing article, "Maven Sells for $750,000". Jimmy Takter took over training Maven for her new owner. Her first start was two weeks after the sale. Takter boldly chose to enter Maven in the Open Breeders Crown, instead of the Mares division which she had won the prior two years. Yannick Gingras drove Maven in 49 of her 52 starts in North America. No surprise, Gingras got the call on Maven from Takter. She won her elimination with flair and entered the $500,000 Final as the prohibitive favorite against nine male competitors. In the Final, Gingras moved her first over past the half and fought valiantly to the wire, finishing a game second behind the winner, Commander Crowe. Maven made one final start in the U.S., finishing a respectable fifth in the TVG Trot Final. Four weeks later, she was shipped to Europe for a winter/spring campaign on the continent. The immediate goal was to win the Prix D'Amerique, raced at Vincennes, France. Unfortunately, the post position gods were unkind and Maven drew the 14th post position. Shortly into the race, she made a break and finished back. Returning to Sweden, she redeemed herself in winning a stake race at Solvalla. Maven made a return to the Elitloppet in May and finished a strong second in the first heat. In the second heat, she tired and was seventh. Maven made her 16th start of her European campaign on July 28, 2015. After finishing sixth, she suffered some soundness issues. Jimmy Takter brought her back to the U.S. with the intention of resting her and then bringing her back to race. Maven did not train back sound and she was retired in March of 2016. Shortly after, she was bred to the superstar trotting stallion, Muscle Hill. There will certainly be a tremendous interest when the foal she's expecting in 2017 sells at the fall 2018 yearling sales. In 70 lifetime starts, Maven earned $2,005,369. With 31 wins, 14 second place finishes and 4 thirds. Her lifetime record is her world record performance over the Delaware track when she scorched that surface in 1:51.4h. In 2013, she was honored to receive the USTA's Dan Patch Award and Canada's Joe O'Brien Award as the sport's top older trotting mare. By Bill Donovan with Tim Kelleher

WEST CORK, Ireland – The conditions and rules are posted for the Red John Memorial and the new Maven Trotters Derby that will be held August 19 and 20 in picturesque Cork. This special tribute to the late “Red” John O’Donovan in 2017 will see all records be broken with prize money in excess of €90,000. Horses competing in both events will be required to race in elimination heats Saturday, August 19 and then return Sunday, August 20 for the final. First nominations are due Monday, April 20. This year the Red John Memorial and the Maven Trotters Derby are being sponsored by USA’s Bill Donovan, the owner of the world champion mare Marven. For more information go to http://www.irishharnessracing.com/ . By Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink The conditions and rules for both races are below: RED JOHN MEMORIAL CONDITIONS 1. OPEN TO PACERS BORN ON OR BEFORE 2013 2.  NOMINATION FEE €100 DUE BEFORE APRIL 20th       FIRST SUSTAINING PAYMENT €100 DUE BEFORE MAY 20th       FINAL SUSTAINING PAYMENT €100 DUE BEFORE JUNE  20th  SUPPLEMENT FOR LATE ENTRIES €2000 3. TO BE RAN UNDER IHRA RULES  4. HEATS AND FINAL TO BE RAN OVER 1 1/4 MILES  5. A MAXIMUM OF 8 ELIMINATION HEATS WITH A MAXIMUM OF 8 RUNNERS IN EACH HEAT WILL BE HELD AND RAN AS PREFERRED HANDICAPS 6. FINAL TO HAVE EIGHT QUALIFIERS AND RAN AS A HANDICAP   7. HEATS TO START AT IHRA HANDICAP MARK GRADE F. ENTRIES WHO FALL OUTSIDE THE HANDICAP WILL BE FACILITATED IN OTHER RACES AND THEIR NOMINATION & SUSTAINING FEES RETURNED. 8. UK HORSES WILL HAVE THEIR BHRC MARK TRANSFERRED TO IHRA MARK  9. IN THE EVENT OF LESS THAN 8 HEATS ONE HORSE TO QUALIFY FROM EACH HEAT WITH THE REMAINING QUALIFIERS GOING TO THE FASTEST   2nd PLACED HORSES. 10. IN THE EVENT OF ANY HORSE WHO HAS QUALIFIED AND DOES NOT RUN IN FINAL NO REPLACEMENT HORSE ALLOWED  11. PURSE MONEY FOR FINAL €20,000 ELIMINATION HEATS €1600 (ESTIMATED) 12. DISTRIBUTION OF FINAL PURSE    1st €10,000 2nd €5,000 3rd €2,000 4th TO 8th €600 EACH  DISTRIBUTION OF HEAT PURSES WILL DEPEND ON FINAL DECLARATIONS  13. CONSOLATION FINAL PURSE €5,000 SAME PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION AS FINAL 14. CONSOLATION FINAL FOR THE 8  SECOND PLACED HORSES FROM EACH HEAT  .IF LESS THAN EIGHT HEATS THE FASTEST THIRD PLACED HORSES TO QUALIFY . 15. A MAXIMUM OF TWO QUALIFIERS FROM ANY ONE TRAINER AND OR OWNER WILL RACE IN THE FINAL  16. IN THE EVENT OF INTEGRITY TESTING PURSE MONEY HELD UNTIL TEST RESULTS ARE PUBLISHED  17. HORSES NOMINATED MUST COMPETE IN THREE "BETTING RACES" IN 2017 IHRA/BHRC SEASON  18. THE RED JOHN MEMORIAL COMMITTEE DECISION WILL BE FINAL IN ALL MATTERS  THE MAVEN TROTTING DERBY CONDITIONS 1. OPEN TO FRENCH TROTTERS BORN ON OR BEFORE 2014 AND PART OF THE LE TROT SCHEME  2.  NOMINATION FEE €100 DUE BEFORE APRIL 20th      FIRST SUSTAINING PAYMENT €100 DUE BEFORE MAY  20th       FINAL SUSTAINING PAYMENT €100 DUE BEFORE JUNE  20th SUPPLEMENT FOR LATE ENTRIES €2000 3. TO BE RAN UNDER IHRA RULES  4. HEATS AND FINAL TO BE RAN OVER 1 1/2 MILES  5. A MAXIMUM OF 8 ELIMINATION HEATS WITH A MAXIMUM OF 8 RUNNERS IN EACH HEAT WILL BE HELD AND RAN AS PREFERRED HANDICAPS 6. FINAL TO HAVE EIGHT QUALIFIERS AND RAN AS A HANDICAP   7. HEATS TO START AT IHRA HANDICAP MARK GRADE F. ENTRIES WHO FALL OUTSIDE THE HANDICAP WILL BE FACILITATED IN OTHER RACES AND THEIR NOMINATION & SUSTAINING FEES RETURNED. 8. UK HORSES WILL HAVE THEIR BHRC MARK TRANSFERRED TO IHRA MARK  9. IN THE EVENT OF LESS THAN 8 HEATS ONE HORSE TO QUALIFY FROM EACH HEAT WITH THE REMAINING QUALIFIERS  GOING TO THE FASTEST   2nd PLACED HORSES. 10. IN THE EVENT OF ANY HORSE WHO HAS QUALIFIED AND DOES NOT RUN IN FINAL NO REPLACEMENT HORSE ALLOWED SEAON  11. PURSE MONEY FOR FINAL €20,000 ELIMINATION HEATS €2800 (ESTIMATED) 12. DISTRIBUTION OF FINAL PURSE    1st €10,000 2nd €5,000 3rd €2,000 4th TO 8th €600 EACH  HEAT PRIZE MONEY TO BE DISTRIBUTED AS PER IHRA/LE TROT PERCENTAGE  13. CONSOLATION FINAL PURSE €8,000 SAME PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION AS FINAL 14. CONSOLATION FINAL FOR THE 8 SECOND PLACED HORSES FROM EACH HEAT. IF LESS THAN EIGHT HEATS THE FASTEST THIRD PLACED HORSES TO QUALIFY. 15. A MAXIMUM OF TWO QUALIFIERS FROM ANY ONE TRAINER AND OR OWNER WILL RACE IN THE FINAL  16. IN THE EVENT OF INTEGRITY TESTING PURSE MONEY HELD UNTIL TEST RESULTS ARE PUBLISHED 17. HORSES NOMINATED MUST COMPETE IN THREE "BETTING RACES" IN THE 2017 IHRA /BHRC SEASON  18. THE RED JOHN MEMORIAL COMMITTEE DECISION WILL BE FINAL IN ALL MATTERS 

WEST CORK, Ireland - The Red John Memorial was set up in 2015 following the tragic death of "Red" John O Donovan in January 2015. John was only 27 when he passed away but was a life long supporter of Harness racing in his native Cork and far beyond. The 2015 Memorial was a one day event but in 2016 the Red John Memorial became a two day event with the main race of the weekend The Red John Memorial Handicap carried a total purse of  €5000. In 2017 all records will be broken with prize money in excess of  €90,000. The Red John Memorial weekend takes place on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th August. This year Lyre, approx 2 miles from the bustling town of Clonakilty, will be the venue for what promises to be the biggest ever harness meeting staged in the West Cork region. The venue is owned by Ger Hegarty who has long being involved in the sport and boasts a natural grand stand which gives race goers a panoramic view of this half mile all grass oval. Clonakilty is around an hours drive from Cork International Airport and is on the gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork. The Red John Memorial Handicap is for pacers born in 2013 or before, is of course, the feature of the weekend. The final which will be made up of eight qualifiers from elimination heats and will have a total purse of  €20,000 with a winners prize of €10,000 making it the richest handicap race in all of Ireland and the UK. The committee are indebted to Bill Donovan from Florida who has generously agreed to sponsor the event for the next three years .Donovan is president of a large trucking business based in Boston and has links to several more transport companies. His passion for standardbreds both trotters and pacers has put him in a position of one of the leading owners on the USA harness racing circuit. Bill has ancestoral links in Skibbereen and has forged strong links with the Murphy family from Baltimore through IB Coyote a mare jointly owned by Bill and the Murphy brothers Tadhg and Donal who won the prestigious Vincent Delaney Memorial two year old championship in 2016 and this was the catalyst for him getting involved in sponsoring the weekend. Bill has also sent a few of his own horses over from the USA to be trained and raced here in Ireland. Bill has also stepped in to sponsor "The Maven Derby" another handicap event this time for trotters born in 2014 or before. Maven was one of the greatest trotting mares ever to race in the USA and actually raced for a time in Etilop in Sweden. In 70 lifetime starts, Maven earned $2,005,369. With 31 wins, 14 second place finishes and 4 thirds. Her lifetime record is her world record performance over the Delaware track when she scorched that surface in 1:51.4h. In 2013, she was honoured to receive the USTA's Dan Patch Award and Canada's Joe O'Brien Award as the sport's top older trotting mare. This will be ran on the same lines as The Red John Handicap with eliminations and the grand final also for a total purse of €20,000. The Le Trot organisation from France are joint sponsors with Mr Donovan for this race which honours Maven, a horse owned by Bill Donovan. Bill says himself "Maven was a dream come true for me a mare of a lifetime but I have been blessed to have owned some great horses besides Maven including Ashleys Husband p,1.49.1 $250,736, Band Of Angels p,3 1.50 $487,150 , Bettor B Lucky p,3 1.50 $750,936 , Holier Than Thou p,3 1.50.1 $152,778 (World Champion) , Im On Cloud Nine p,3 1.54.2 $214,374 , Jolene Jolene p,2 1.52 $239,637 (World Champion) Lauderdale p,1.53.2 $386,189 , Medusa p,1.49 $432,012 Mistery Woman p,4 1.51 (World Champion) and Shared Past p,3 1.53 $416,606. "They have all given me so much success in harness racing and coming here to Cork to support the Red John Weekend gives me a chance to give something back to racing here where my fore fathers emigrated from many years ago " With the success of The Vincent Delaney Memorial in Portmarnock,The Red John Memorial weekend takes place on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th August which is the week after The Delaney weekend and it gives harness racing followers a week long of top class racing both in Dublin and here In Cork and The overseas visitors will be guaranteed a great time . Both The Red John and Maven Derby will see owners paying three sustaining fees of €100 per horse. The organisation of such a big event could not happen without the help of so many people and the harness racoing community here in West Cork are really pulling out all the stops to ensure this weekend will grow from humble beginings and become "The One" all owners and trainers want to win. "No matter what we ask of people putting up the track, sourcing stables for the visiting horses and garning sponsorship, there is always a positive outcome and without all this help such a weekend would not happen "said Micheal O'Donovan (brother of the late Red John) "What can we say, only Bill Donovan has put us in a great position with his generous sponsorship and I'm sure Red John will be looking down on us smiling on how big the weekend has become," added Caroline Collins of the Red John Committee. Following on from last year, Oakwood Stud will again sponsor the Three Year Old Grass Pacing Championship, which was a huge success in its first year. "Derek Delaney rang me last year and said why not try a three year old series which he and his brother James would sponsor, so we did and hopefully that grows just the way the VDM has." said Tim Kelleher of the committee "This year Derek rang and said they were again coming on board and to be honest we must mention all the rest of our sponsors from near and far who have been so generous " added Kelleher " We are always looking for new sponsors and The Clonakilty Chamber Of Commerce have been most helpful " The programme of events reads as follows THE RED JOHN MEMORIAL HANDICAP 1 ¼ MILES Heats €1600 (Estimated) Final €20,000 Consolation Final €5000 THE MAVEN TROT DERBY 1 ½ MILES Heats €2800 Final €20,000 Consolation Final €8000 THE OAKWOOD STUD IRISH 3YO GRASS PACING CHAMPIONSHIP Estimated prize fund €5000 THE PJI ENGINEERING FREE FOR ALL Estimated prize fund €3000 There will be a full supporting programme on both days with bumper prize money for all races. The on-line entry system will be available shortly as will details of Stabling and hotels. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink    

WEST CORK, Ireland - Poster girl Deirdre Goggin rode a double at her local track when road trotting made a welcome return to Goleen on the tip of the Mizen peninsula after a hiatus of six years on Sunday. The road, which stretches along the Dauch Causeway, is a setting of real beauty with the tide from the nearby Atlantic Ocean, nestling in under the Causeway Bridge at the Northern side of the course . The meeting of the"Big Two" of road trotting Rhyds Ponder and Maitha Buachaill reads 4 to 0 to the latter before today and he had to take a 20 yard handicap for those wins. Goggin set Rhtds Ponder alight from the start and led through the opening two turns. Heading to the third turn the advantage was five lengths to Meadow Branch Kiki with Maitha Buachaill back in fourth. Approaching the final turn, Goggin on Rhyds Ponder, began to turn the screws on her rivals and flew off the last turn and was not for catching with trotter Tactician Du Lys snatching second from Maitha Buachaill.  After dismounting her horse Goggin was carried shoulder high into the presentation area by the partisan local crowd. Earlier the huge local crowd roared Deirdre home on Saunders Paris in the Grade C.  This looked a tough one to call with Rhyds Artist also well touted in the betting ring, but Saunders Paris made light work of her rivals careering away to win her fifth of the season by six lengths. "Home is always the place to win and Paris is owned by my father Micheal and I am so proud to win here," said the modest Goggin after the race. Jamie Hurley still the leads the jockeys championship after recording a double Sunday. IB Tweedy in the grade E was sent to post at prohibitive odds and was never in danger giving owners "The One For The Road Syndicate" their fourth win of the year. John Woodland made the four hour journey from Limerick with Coalford Hardy a winning one. Jamie Hurley was on board to lead from the start and despite the late intentions of Big Jim held on by three lengths. This was the first winner for owner trainer Woodland, who is based in Limerick City. Jamie hurley now stands on ten winners one ahead of Deirdre Goggin on nine . Racing opened with an a win for Rock On Jo Jo on his tarmac debut. Matthew O Reilly allowed Van Helsing and Shanes Income battle it out early and sent Jo Jo to the front after the final turn to win by four lengths. Old Chapel in Bandon is the next meeting on Sunday 26th March with the All Ireland Championships which were cancelled last week re scheduled for Sunday April 2nd. by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink RESULTS NOVICE The Lobster Pot Bar Cup 1. M O'Reilly ROCK ON JO JO Owner 2. McCarthy/ Daly SHANES INCOME A McCarthy 3. M O'Brien VAN HELSING P O Brien GRADE E The Fastnet Bar Cup 1. One For The Road Syn IB TWEEDY J Hurley 2. P Kane RETURN OF THE MAC M O'Reilly 3. G O Callaghan TROOPERS HARMONY M Goggin Jnr GRADE D The O Mearas Bar Cup 1. J Woodland COALFORD HARDY J Hurley 2. G Kane BIG JIM T O'Leary 3. G Cooke WESTERN BEACH D Goggin GRADE C The Twins Memorial Cup 1. M Goggin SAUNDERS PARIS Deirdre Goggin 2. P Manning SPRINGHILL JAZZ D Brickley 3. R Joyce BEAUTYS HARMONY M O'Reilly THE CAUSEWAY CLASSIC GRADE A & B The Frank & Anna Goggin Memorial Cup 1. N Forbes RHYDS PONDER Deirdre Goggin 2. G Kane TACTICIAN DU LYS T O'Leary 3. Hegarty/ Hurley MAITHA BUACHAILL J Hurley  

WEST CORK, Ireland - Due to high winds and heavy rain the Owenahincha Road Trotting races which was to feature the All Ireland Road trotting Championships had to cancelled . With the track close to the Atlantic ocean at this beautiful venue the swirling winds were blowing at such speeds (130 km per hour was recorded at 11am) the committee took the sensible option to cancel the races as the ocean swell along with the heavy rain were encroaching on the tarmac . It is a huge disappointment for the organisers who had pulled out all the stops to ensure a great day . The ITHRF along with the promoters are organising to re fix the meeting Next Sunday the action switches to Goleen the most westerly venue on the circuit and on a fine Summers day one can almost see the East Coast of the USA . Details of entries will be published on www.harnessracingcork.com by Tim Kelleher, for Harnesslink

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