Monday 14 October 2019

Horsing around at Liscarroll Point to Point this Sunday

The famed Liscarroll horse races has been running since 1954, adding more every year

Maria Herlihy

In the last two years just over 2,000 people made their way to the famed Liscarroll Point to Point races and this Sunday, its organisers are expecting another bumper crowd.

The races have been held for over six decades on the lands of Pat and Mary Ann O'Brien and as the track is left handed  the point to point has been described as the "Cheltenham of the South". 

On Sunday, there is a six race programme for horses aged four years and over and the races are run on grassland and all races are over three miles.

Michael Purdon, PRO of the point to point races, outlined that all point to point fixtures are governed by both Rules of Racing and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules. He said that a notable rule is that riders are to leave all red flags on the right and white flags on the left. While another rule is that all runners and riders must be declared to officials at least one hour before the advertised start time of each race.

He, along with up to 20 other volunteers, have been working hard for the last seven Saturdays to make sure that their agenda for the day goes off without a hitch. 

"Volunteers are the life blood of the club and on Sunday there will be 80 stewards on duty for the day," he said. 

This year, Mary Kennedy of RTE's Nationwide will be on site on Sunday with her camera crew where they will be doing lots of interviews with the horse loving community. Last year, the Committee invited President Michael D Higgins and it was the first time that any president attended a point to point. President Higgins has close family ties to Liscarroll through his mother, Alice Canty. 

There is huge history attached to Liscarroll Point to Point and with that comes famed achievements. Denman, a hugely famous horse, was a Liscarroll graduate as he was trained locally by Adrian Maguire - himself a Gold Cup winning jockey. Denman is also a famed past Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. 

At Liscarroll Point to Point races it is not unusual to have riders wear racing silks for their well known owners. In the past, proud Limerick man JP McManus has attended the point to point races. 

Mr Purdon said that the entry fee for adults is €8 on Sunday but children are free as is the parking. While many parents will be keeping an eye on the track there is a huge amount of free activities for children to enjoy in a secure area and at a distance from the racecourse. 

The bouncy castles, face-painting, pet farm along with a display of a number of donkeys from the nearby Donkey Sanctuary are all free to enjoy.  During the day, there will also be the waft of fresh baking by children as a competition will be held by both children in both Liscarroll and Churchtown NS. The children will bake at home and then bring in their cup cakes and exhibit them.

Prize winners will receive rosettes and all students who take part will also be presented with a scroll. The children may just give the Great British Bake Off contestants a run for their money on Sunday. 

Mr Purdon said the upcoming fixture in Liscarroll received further recognition last week when 'Articulum' was placed third in the Arkle Steeplechase at the Cheltenham festival.

"Indeed, there were multiple runners most days at the festival who have galloped over the famed track in Liscarroll," he said. 

"Everyone is really looking forward to the point to point on Sunday. We try to do something different every year to involve the community and we hope that people of all ages will enjoy their day," he said.

The start time is 2pm and there is ample free parking in Liscarroll.  While everything is being lined up for this Sunday, the only aspect out of the volunteers' control is the weather.