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Saturday 20 September 2014

From the Stands: Stars epic better cast than Fairy tale

Aisling Crowe and Ger Siggins

Published 20/07/2014 | 02:30

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Snow Fairy, with Frankie Dettori up, canters to the start for The Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes
Snow Fairy, with Frankie Dettori up, canters to the start for The Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes

Leopardstown race course unveiled a life-size bronze statue of Snow Fairy before racing last Thursday. The sculpture was a gift to the track from Cristina Patino, who bred and owns the 2012 Irish Champion Stakes winner.

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It was a lovely gift and a great photo opportunity with the pregnant Snow Fairy posing beside her immortalised form but why did Leopardstown agree to honour this particular mare? True, they didn't commission the piece and Snow Fairy was also second in the 2011 renewal but why not honour an Irish horse?

There are plenty of Irish-trained racehorses which have elevated Leopardstown to its current pre-eminent status and helped make the Irish Champion Stakes one of the most prestigious races in Europe. Surely a life size bronze commemorating Sea The Stars, probably the greatest Irish Flat champion ever, would be a more appropriate statue for Leopardstown's winners' enclosure? Just a thought.

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EAMON de Valera was well-known to be a follower of rugby, which got him into trouble with the GAA in less enlightened times.

In 1957, he told a dinner of the Past Pupils Union of Blackrock College: "I have not been at a rugby match since 1913 because I do not want it being raised as a political matter and having rows kicked up about it."

As Taoiseach, he had watched an international at Dalymount Park and later, as President, he went to Lansdowne Road for his beloved rugby. He even once turned up at a cricket match in College Park in Trinity for an informal chat with the British ambassador.

Sir John Maffey was playing in the game and the pair went for a ramble around the field, whereupon Dev came across a cricket bat. He picked it up and played some shots in the air but tossed the bat away as soon as a press photographer lifted his camera. Now more evidence has emerged that he had played the then-forbidden sport.

On Monday, August 3, 1908, The Irish Times reported on a game between Rockwell College Past Pupils and their counterparts from Blackrock College. Rockwell made 115, and their total was easily passed by the Dublin school, although their No 8 batsman, E J de Valera, was run out for a duck.

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If you want to see what happens when jockeys race without horses then why not take part in the Jog For Jockeys at the Curragh racecourse on August 20. The annual fundraiser for the Irish Injured Jockeys is a 5k or 10k run around the Curragh racecourse and costs €20 to enter, which includes admission to racing afterwards.

Teams of jockeys took part last year including Patrick Mullins, Barry Geraghty, and Robbie McNamara and the competition was fierce. There are prizes from PC Racewear for the first three men and women home in both the 5k and 10k races.

Everyone who enters gets a Jog For Jockeys T-shirt and more details are available at www.jogforjockeys.ie.

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The lengths people go to in order to secure All-Ireland final tickets have entered folklore but such is the demand from Monaghan fans, anxious to be in the stands at Clones in case Monaghan secure back-to-back Ulster titles this afternoon, that the scramble for tickets has begun early.

For people hoping to be at any of the remaining big matches this summer, From The Stands picked up some tips on Friday while driving to work. The Monaghan singer songwriter Ryan Sheridan performed on the breakfast show of a national radio station and before he sang, he mentioned that he couldn't get tickets for today's match.

Quicker than you could say Garth Brooks, someone from the GAA had been in contact with the station to say that they had tickets for Sheridan.

If you want match tickets, it seems all you need is to get on the radio and plead your case. If you can sing, you might even get them for free.

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