GAVIN Murdock (44) and his brother Jay (46) are the latest generation of the well-known Murdock clan from Belfast’s Market area to participate in harness racing.

The ‘Godfather’ of the whole outfit, the late Jim Murdock could link the family name with trotting as far back as 1920.

The family’s runners have always been well turned out with green and black traditionally their colours.

Nowadays Gavin and Jay have some white through their driving suits but green harness trims, sulkies and so on remain a sure sign that Murdocks are at the races.

The boys’ father Harry, also deceased, was one of the first Irish trainers to become a force at the big British meetings.

Gavin’s horses will be trained to peak at the Vincent Delaney Memorial (Wolverhampton) in August.

The stable has previously picked up a colts’ division with Oakwood Paddy and a fillies’ division with Maid Sweet.


The Murdocks were unlucky at Tregaron, mid-Wales, in 2023 when two heavily-backed runners slipped separately, as can happen on a grass surface.

Trips to Appleby and York’s charity meeting are on the cards for Gavin, Jay and their main owner Ruairi McNulty.

The family yard in Verner Street is still standing but as the song says is being surrounded by ‘glass cages’. The Murdocks keep their horses at Annaghmore Raceway near Portadown. Gavin’s daughter Ruby rarely misses a day at the yard and is a great help.

“Oakwood Mick was a highlight last year,” explains Gavin. “He was beaten by two very good horses in the VDM, the heat was only his second ever competitive start. He went on to win two stakes races in Ireland.”

“Churchview Camelot won six out of eight starts, we sold him to the States just last week. Horses we have sold to America have won a total of 44 races over there. We sold him to Rick Palucci who owned the great New Zealand-bred mare Shartin.

“It’s important that the good trade to the US continues. The export market gives us the confidence to buy again at the autumn sales.”

Gavin and Jay have opted for quality rather than quantity for the season which is due to open on April 26th at Annaghmore.

Gavin has high hopes for the following six, all bred in the purple. He says when they have two in together Patrick Kane junior will come in for the catch drive.

Oakwood Mick (Ire)

3yo g Always B Miki – Carmel Camden.

He’s a nice height at 15.3hh. We didn’t overdo him at two because he showed us, he wasn’t ready. I think he has developed well over the winter. He has manners like an older horse. We’d love to send him to Robbie Cleary in New Jersey next autumn.

Blackwell Freddy (USA)

2yo g Pappi Rob Hanover – Eternal Expectation

I went to the sales in Pennsylvania and came home with a horse. His grand dam is Eternal Cammnation who won $3.7 million. He’s trained down to 2.35 already.

Robbie Cleary broke him over there. We’ve had him six weeks and he was castrated recently. He shapes like a proper racehorse.

Amazon Fire (USA)

4yo Sweet Lou – Brat

He was a smashing two-year-old but had a little accident in his stable. He won in 2.02 at two which is a nice clock. He ran second at York to Always Paid. He can be a bit sharp to work around but he has ability.

Dillon Camden (GB)

5yo g Art Professor – Keystone Havoc

A full-brother to Robyn Camden. We bought him from the Timmons’ from the English midlands. He topped York sale as a yearling but has been dogged by problems. He’s pacing well in his work.

Maid Sweet (Ire)

4yo m Sweet Lou - Maid of the West

Graham Byrne’s mare. She was some two-year-old. She had a few issues at three but I think I have them ironed out.

She goes in an open bridle. She would kill you in the stable. If she’s not kicking, she’s biting.

Oakwood Carmelita (Ire)

4yo m Foreclosure – Carmel Camden

(Gavin gives a hollow laugh). She’s still the most expensive standard-bred yearling ever sold in Britain or Ireland and has yet to win a race. I blame myself. She needed some vet work last year and I went the wrong route.

She’s like a new mare this year. She wears blinds and a pole on her track side. She’s a full-sister to Oakwood Paddy.

Sean Kane – from start to Finnish

THE Irish Field recently previewed Naul man Sean Kane’s venture to the Arctic Horse Challenge in Finland (actually Lapland) over St Patrick’s weekend.

Happily, the airport fireman has good news to report. Sean was third of 12 competitors over a competition of three legs.

“I had a third, a fourth and an eighth to be third overall.” Unsurprisingly a local, Finn Petri Salmela, was overall champion.

“I drove a further race on a Finnish Coldblood, their local breed,” added Sean.

“The social scene was great. They took us on a snow safari on snowmobiles. We fished on a frozen lake and got to drive a reindeer. We then visited a local trainer’s yard.”

“The horses were mainly Swedish that previously raced in the higher grades. They can’t really wash a horse too thoroughly with the prevailing temperatures. The Finns feed a lot of hot mashes after a race.”

“The Arctic Horse Challenge was a great experience. I met some old friends and made some new friends.”