MARK Kane was contacted while he was travelling to Belgium. The strongly built seven-year-old, reared, broken and trained by the family was to the front of his mind. Following a successful season in America, Harry’s European Tour could be the crowning glory of a super career. If you’re going to go tilting at windmills where better than Holland?

“Harry Knows was one of the crop of foals who came in as part of the broodmare scheme from Le TROT. He was named for my grandfather on my mother’s side and that has brought him lots of luck. He dominated here as a four- and five-year-old so we made the decision to send him to New Jersey where he was handled by the Tritton stable. He started brightly and won three in succession taking a mark of 1.51 in the Meadowlands. It was a very proud moment for us watching him win in at the Mecca of harness racing.

“He lost his way a small bit after that and we decided he must have been missing us as much as we were missing him so we took him home, gave him a break and started training him down again around Christmas time. He was a big miss when he wasn’t there and he’s the first head you see poking out of his stable door to say hello … or look for his first feed!

Dreams come true

“He’s got a beautiful temperament, friendly and playful and loves attention, he’s one of those horses who knows how good he is! He’s not the most straightforward to train, he would get keen and worked up at home if we weren’t careful. Generally, it’s only myself or Patrick who will jog or work him and we kind of have the key to him, go out, hands out of the grips, don’t move them an inch and after five minutes he settles beautifully. We’ve mixed up his fast work between my uncle Ger’s sand track, the beach and Annaghmore Raceway. Harry loves the beach and if you have any horse who can lie up with him on it… they are trotting well.

“We decided at the end of last summer that we should maybe look into Europe for races for him, who knows when a horse like him could come along again, he took us to the biggest track in America and now we’re planning raids of European countries. We’ll know soon if it works out but we may as well dream on the track as dream in bed!

“We’re stabling at the track in Mons and Mieke Versluys from the Belgian federation and Ralf Dekker who’s track manager from Wolvega were very helpful in setting everything up. Also, Paul Murphy from Shuttle Horse Ltd handled all our paperwork. Patrick was the logistics manager for the yard and PK senior shipped him himself. I tried to keep the rest of the show on the road at home. It’s hard to know what we’re up against tonight in Mons, on paper the number 6 horse looks good and we’ll give them all maximum respect, but if we have our lad where I hope we do, we’d fear nothing.”

The result

Harry Knows was an honourable fourth at 11/1 in the second race over 2,300 metres at Mons on Tuesday night. The horse does not like to be rushed out of the gate and as he moved forwards so did the runners on his inside. Patrick had to use Harry a lot at the 1,600 metre point and they briefly led. Eventually Harry Knows tired on the last bend but kept on gamely for fourth. The Prix Zeturf.Be carried an overall purse of €5,000. The replay can be viewed on Hippodrome de Wallonie’s You Tube.

Mark told The Irish Field on Tuesday night “Patrick was happy enough; he was first over (on the outside) for a long way. It was our seasonal debut while the rest have been racing. Patrick thinks we’ll change a little piece of harness the next day. The horse came out of the race well.”

The race was won by “the number 6 horse” which Mark had mentioned, Horizon d’Eymy driven by one K. Depuydt at odds of 2/5.

Trim yard is ship shape for new season

Of course, the local scene will take up more of the Kanes’ season than these pleasant sojourns to the continent. The Trim yard, complete with a training track is currently home to fourteen horses in work for the 2024 season. Mark seems to have been seconded to be stable spokesman and thanks are due for the detail he gave to his answers to The Irish Field.

Mark (31) is an equine dentist with an impressive roster of clients. “I work for Gavin Cromwell Racing and have looked after all of his graded race winners. I have treated group winners for Jack Davison and for a flurry of other talented horsemen like John O’Donoghue, Chris Hayes, Tom McCourt, Shane Crawley and Paul Stafford. I’m good friends with James O’Haire who is an international event rider. I make sure to keep my eyes open when I’m in those yards.”

Mark’s highlight of 2023 was his first winning drive at the Red John Memorial, “The Red John is a meeting dearly close to our hearts and we had Ladyford Express trained to the minute for it, it was his Gold Cup. I’ve owned winners and we’ve trained plenty of winners at that meeting but this felt extra special.”

Older brother Patrick junior is a farrier, and diplomatically decided not to name any clients for fear of leaving anyone out. He won the Irish driver’s title three times before the age of twenty-two and more recently in 2021 and 2022.

Patrick (37) had a productive 2023 with Bobby Barry’s Ayr Corleone winning at so many of the big UK meetings. Patrick also won the Black Horse Supplements Juvenile Final with Angelesy Hall which was another highlight.

“We dearly miss Portmarnock for racing and especially training. Once a week we load up 10/12 horses, round up all the help and owners we can find and head to Annaghmore Raceway for some fast work. It’s a five hour round trip but we’ve a great team of owners to muck in and help. Hannah Lawless from Dublin has joined the team this year and is a huge part of the operation. Rocco Byrne recently drove in his first qualifier and is a good help too.”

Ayroplane (USA)

2yo c (Stay Hungry – Talk Time)

My dad loved him in the sales ring at York and Paddy has always had a great eye for a horse. Sales organiser Craig Stevenson also said that Ayroplane was the pick of the sale. The vendor Ryan O’Neill was sporting a black eye provided by this colt, so my dad knew he had spirit. The Ball family from London backed the deal. He’s funny, quite flighty and nervous on the ground but once the cart is clipped on he’s a pro. He is a commanding presence and exciting. He is entered in the major two-year-old stakes races.

Angelesy Hall (Ire)

3yo f (Hasty Hall- Angelesy Dawn)

A homebred, she had some lovely form last season with Always B Puffin and managed to win the Irish juvenile final. She’s a nice filly to work and a favourite of Patrick’s daughter Eliza. We’ll see how our season starts.

Stateside Phoenix (GB)

3yo g (Tom Hill – Bunnys Legacy)

Another one we bought in York with the Ball family. Johnny Ball has a long association with Ireland. “Frankie“ is a smashing horse to work with and he’s super intelligent. We won with his half-brother (Stateside Deuce) before he was sold to America so we had our eye on this lad. The breeders Sue and Carly Young couldn’t recommend him to us enough. He is the last foal from their mare so they follow him closely.

Harry Knows (Ire)

7yo g (Armstrong Jet- Aurora)

He’s the one you get out of bed early for. Everyone’s favourite and we’re hoping there’s some exciting times with him at home and abroad. By the time this article is printed he’ll have raced in both Belgium and Holland. Even if we stopped tomorrow, he’s been some fun horse.

Rhyds Shady Affair (GB)

4yo g (See And Ski-Rhyds Hasty Affair)

Rhyds Scoundrel’s full-brother, he showed flashes of ability last year but he was babyish and you can see why now. He’s matured into a strong athletic horse but more importantly he’s matured a lot mentally too. His owner Buddy Donaghey is a huge help to us and I’d love for this lad to give him some big days.

Immortal John (GB)

9yo (Immortalised - Duggans Angel)

The only horse I own myself and the stable veteran. He had a small injury last year so didn’t run but our vet Patrick McGrath did a great job with him and is happy with him. He’s a beautiful horse and my niece Eliza is his new trainer and rides him out every chance she gets. He finds another gear when he steps out onto a grass track.