THE fact that last weekend featured only one meeting in Ireland allows us the luxury of previewing the biggest meeting in Ireland nowadays, the two-day Red John Memorial held on Ger Heggarty’s land at Lyre, near Clonakilty over the August 20th and 21st.
Approximately €100,000 is up for grabs over the two days.
As in previous years, Bill Donovan a Florida-based horse owner and businessman is the main sponsor and of course nos amis from LeTROT of France are heavily involved.
For the first time at an Irish grass meeting, a team of French drivers will do battle against the home side. Stéphane Meunier and Franck Ouvrie will be joined by some younger drivers.
Madame Emmanuelle Morvillers Director of LeTROT International programme will be present.
Durham-based husband and wife team Rocker and Alexis Laidler drove 18 hours in 2021 to be present but they did take home the major prize.
Last year’s winner Merrington Moving Up (also known as Joey, the orphan foal) is expected to defend his title. Both Alexis and her runners will be well turned out.
Welshman Gareth Thomas is contemplating bringing a runner. Welsh postman Alan Jones took the place by storm in 2019.
Mark Kane from Trim says: “Immortal John is twice a course-and-distance winner and is a real grasser. Miss Pantastic will love the track.”
Local trainer Jamie Hurley was upbeat. “Irish Good Dream has really turned the corner this year. Foxfield Ranger has two wins and two seconds here and course form is hard to beat.”
Tadhg Murphy of Baltimore will harness IB Paddington for Bill Donovan. “IB Paddington won’t be far away. Duc d’Arry’s win at Ballabuidhe is a nice piece of form. I think Valanzana will run well for my son Eoin.”
The meeting will be signposted from Dunmanway and Clonakilty. The RJM is like a well-run point-to-point. Local Celebrity Chef Barney Bradfield will be in attendance.
Harness racing enthusiasts from England, Scotland and Wales will ensure a good atmosphere.