Athea Races enjoy a June debut

In action: horse and jockey pictured in full flow at the Athea races which held their inaugural June race meeting on the land of Helen and Michael O’Keeffe last Sunday. Photos by Stella McGrath
In action: horse and jockey pictured in full flow at the Athea races which held their inaugural June race meeting on the land of Helen and Michael O’Keeffe last Sunday. Photos by Stella McGrath

Fergus Dennehy

Organisers of the Athea Races were not going to let the small matter of the hurling finals dampen their spirits last Sunday, as they enjoyed the first year of their newly acquired June meeting date.

After the news earlier this year that the much loved Abbeyfeale races were not going ahead this year due to the increasing cost of insurance for the event, the June date fell to the Athea Races organisers, who grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

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Mike O'Connor is one of the main men behind the races this year and speaking to The Kerryman on Tuesday, he said that it was a good start to what he hopes will be a successful June staging for years to come.

"We usually race in September but we pushed for a date in June because it's difficult to get the horses at the later dates in September. Most of the horses are usually injured or no good at that stage of the year," he said.

"We have this date now ourselves. If the Abbeyfeale races are fortunate enough to start up again, they'll have to look at another date. We have the June date locked in now. We've been going five years now since we came back and we've got a good committee behind us so hopefully, we will continue going well," he continued.

As for the day itself, Mike said that the spectators witnessed some high quality racing on the day.

"There was great racing, great finishes on the day. They were all very close finishes so it was all very exciting he said. Special thanks though must go to both Michael and Helen O'Keeffee whose land at Glenagore near Athea were where the races were held this year.

"We couldn't have run it this year without them. They had 80 acres in the one field so it was fantastic. Our main sponsor on the day was Johnny Burns in Abbeyfeale who were the main sponsors of the Derby. Sponsors are the lifeblood of events like this."

Kerryman

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