Carrig's hurlers and Farrells fancy make it a week to remember
It's rare enough that I wouldn't travel to the races when I have a runner, but that's exactly what happened last Sunday. I had Viaduct Joey in at Tipperary, but my local club Carrigtwohill were involved in the county senior hurling final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
All I can say is I'm glad Viaduct Joey's owner Sean Ryan (a former Cork junior football manager) is a GAA man too.
I sent two of my staff, Niall Healy and Lisa Collins, to Tipperary with the horse and I made for 'The Park.' It was 70-odd years since Carrig got to a senior final and 93 since we last won it, so this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I didn't want to miss.
Having spent most of the time struggling to avoid relegation over the past few years, we had been second-favourites for all of our matches this year. It was no different on Sunday, with the bookies offering just 2/5 about CIT, while Carrig were 11/4.
The Carrig team is like a decent handicapper that just keeps improving, though, and the boys came good again. In a village like ours, nearly everyone has been involved in the club at some point and I played for 25 years myself when it was a junior club.
Back then, a county title wouldn't feature in your wildest dreams, but a lot of hard work has gone in at underage level. And although it may have taken most of a century to get back to the top of pile, every bit of blood and sweat is worth it when you get there.
Suffice to say, Sunday night was long and arduous. My day starts at 6.30 -- county champions or no -- so I hadn't much time in bed and I was pleasantly surprised to see every one of the staff turn up on time as well.
Some looked a bit shook -- Chubbs, the yard man, struck me as being especially tender -- but fair dues to them all for clocking in. Their efforts didn't go unnoticed.
On Tuesday it was back to Tipperary with three runners, one of which, Farrells Fancy, was favourite for the maiden hurdle. Ever since he won his point-to-point by 20 lengths at Cloyne in March, we have been excited about this fellow.
He doesn't show much at home, but split Last Instalment and The Real Article on his hurdling debut back in April, so he was entitled to be favourite on Tuesday.
To be honest, I wouldn't have minded if he got beaten because I thought he might just lack match fitness on his reappearance, but he hung on well to score for Tom Doyle.
The win was all the more pleasing because Conor Counihan is one of the 10-strong Beir Bua Syndicate that owns Farrells Fancy.
Conor loves his racing -- he is a regular at the yard here -- so I was delighted to train his first winner on the track, not least after what was a disappointing end to the Cork footballers' year.
Farrells Fancy will head to Mallow now for a Grade Three novice hurdle at the beginning of November. If he were to win there, we'd stay hurdling with him, but he is an out-and-out chaser really, so that's probably the route we'll take if he's beaten.
It's great to have a horse with his potential around the yard. I have had a full trainer's licence for only three years, having put the facilities in place here the previous year.
My father had been a permit holder as well and he was the only trainer I ever rode out for, so all my mistakes are my own, you could say. In one respect, the timing of the stable development was unfortunate, but we work damn hard to justify it.
I have two barns, two grass gallops, an indoor school and a sand gallop, so the horses have it all.
That helps attract clients and I also try to keep my prices down -- it can be tough to make ends meet, but you have to be conscious of the times we are living in.
Of course, results are the most important thing. To that end, we have increased our tally of winners each year, finishing up with seven on the track last term.
With Viaduct Joey having got us off the mark at Listowel, we have a couple on the board already this time and the hope would be to maintain the momentum through the winter. That said, we'll do well to top a week like this anytime soon.
For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie