THE 2022 season may be only a fortnight old, yet the winners’ circle photographs are already healthily populated.
One thing about the trotting crowd, they celebrate even a little €1,200 race with the same gusto that other codes greet a Grade 1 winner. Long may this enthusiasm endure, it is endearing.
The best celebrators of all often come from the Roche stable. As has been mentioned before, even the guy who cycled past the yard during the week is welcome in their post-race snapshot. Vaillant De Gueham has been a great breadwinner for owner Joe Gannon and driver Billy Roche, and he secured another success in the Grade F trot on Sunday.
A good newspaper must listen to the readers and Billy had some interesting feedback. He told The Irish Field: “He has won races for me in each of the past seven seasons and he doesn’t get the write-ups he deserves.” Later Gannon pointed out the horse has now won on the opening day three years in a row.
So hopefully the Roche press office are happier this Saturday morning. Speaking as a bookie they only remind me how good he is after the pay out!
Frisson d’Yvel (John Richardson for Joe Sheridan) was the runner-up on a weak enough card.
JR’s good start to the new season continued however. He took the A to D trot in convincing fashion with Colombia d’Oysse.
Like Vaillant De Gueham she was making it two from two. Duc d’Arry was second off a 60-yard trail and Patrick Kane did not slay him once he saw that the winner was uncatchable.
A week is a long time in harness racing and Meadowbranch Aurora (John Richardson) reversed the placings with Springhill Zep (Sean Kane) in the lowest grade pace.
As modern pacers and trotters have evolved fewer horses are wearing the ‘overcheck’ (a rein that runs from an extra bit in the horses’ mouth, up over their ears and to the withers) to keep them balanced. John opted to keep the check off the little filly and she really got down to pace. Also, a bit like a certain Rosegreen establishment, the chef serves his runners a little underdone first time out.
Sean Kane had to wait nearly three months for a winner in 2021. This term he has two on the board already.
He won with Springhill Zep at meeting one and with Éclair Du Limon at meeting two. Éclair Du Limon looked well in his coat and warmed up on a loose rein. The win was quite a training performance as the seven-year-old gelding has been in the wilderness in recent times.
“Full credit to my sister Mary who trained him under saddle to get his confidence back,” Kane said. “I’m delighted for the owner Stephen Coleman who has faith in Éclair Du Limon.”
Sean’s cousin Patrick ran second aboard Ella Du Fosse.
The highest-grade pace saw the betting market get it wrong as Newtown Alana (Wayne McNevin) upset Meadowbranch Dynasty (John Richardson, 4/5 to 6/4) and One Cool Touch (John Boy Roche).
Newtown Alana, while taller than Meadowbranch Aurora is still not overly big. The winning driver’s daughter Leah commented: “She’s the best pony in Ireland,” a confident statement which could have come from Alana’s late breeder Liam Wallace.
At time of going to press it looks like the scheduled meeting for Annaghmore tomorrow will be cancelled due to lack of entries. The IHRA website www.irishharnessracing.com will clarify and carry official results.
All the signs are there are a world of horses within one month of a run in Dublin, Cork, and the north, so here’s to some eight race cards soon.
Dan Carlin pays tribute to Gerry ‘Farmer’ Cummins, a regular at Portmarnock Raceway, who was laid to rest this week
PORTMARNOCK Raceway lost another of its great characters last weekend with the passing of Gerry ‘Farmer’ Cummins of Cabra.
Readers of The Irish Field may recognise Gerry as one of the carriage drivers who worked in St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. He was 66 and was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Gerry fell in for some worldwide publicity when the Delaney brothers cleverly arranged a trip around Dublin’s tourist sites for the visiting dignitaries at their Vincent Delaney weekend some 10 years ago. The footage of Gerry “racing” around the streets of Dublin against veteran US commentator Roger Huston (on another carriage) went down well in the States.
The horses pulling the carriages on St Stephen’s Green are usually plainly bred ‘cobs’ although a few retired racing trotters have ended up there.
Gerry also supplied horses to movies made in Ireland including Angelas Ashes, Durango and Braveheart. He and various Dublin horsemen filled roles as extras.
Gerry attended the north Dublin track, especially at the feature meetings. He helped to train McLeod, Drumm’s Silver Dream and Liam Wallace’s Magneto Star. In recent years he was involved in the syndicate that owned Caenwood Tribute.
In trotting terms Gerry was not smooth gaited on the dance floor but was always enthusiastic. He was known to all as Gerry Farmer and very few people would have known his actual surname. Gerry Farmer was very sociable and loved the banter in the bar.
He is survived by his wife Sandra, four children and five grandchildren. Son Darren is attached to the army school of equitation at McKee barracks.
Gerry was buried from Cabra chapel on Thursday. Around 14 or 15 carriage drivers brought out their best turn-outs to give their friend a send off and the hearse was drawn by an eight-in-hand.
We extend our sympathies to the family.