Monday 23 October 2017

So proud of Curragh team

In light of my position as general manager of The Curragh racecourse, it meant a lot to be part of The Curragh Golf Club team that won the Pierce Purcell national final in Castlebar last week.

Established in 1883, the club is the oldest in the Republic, but had never won an All-Ireland title before.

I have to say, going down to Castlebar, the significance of taking part in the club's first final since the 1970s probably went over a lot of our heads. From speaking to some of the older members, though, we soon grasped the significance of it all.

For an amateur golfer, the experience was incredible. There could be 50 to 100 people on a tee box or around a green at any one time, which is not good for the nerves.

Of our five teams, Tommy Tobin and I were sent out as the anchor, and I was fairly dreading going down the final stretch with the overall match coming down to our game. Thankfully it never came to that.

In both the semi-final against Rosses Point and the final against Nenagh the next day, the lads ahead of us had the business done by the time we got in.

Our own matches were very much alive, but the team had won three of the other four matches by the time we got to the 14th hole on both days.

Tommy already had an All-Ireland medal from his days in the boxing ring during his youth. His claim to fame is that he beat Michael Carruth somewhere along the line back then, and, while I can't top that boast, it is nice to have a medal to match his.

Before I got back to the club for the celebrations last Friday, I stopped off in Athgarvan to watch my daughter Holly play an U-13 football match against Two Mile House.

Unfortunately they got well beaten, a defeat made even worse by Andrew Coonan of the Jockeys' Association, whose daughter was on the winning team. He didn't seem at all impressed by my earlier achievements on the golf course, preferring to gloat about how wonderful an U-13 team Two Mile House have!

The following morning, after a great night in the clubhouse, I took my other daughter Kate to a cross-country course to practise her jumping. She is due to compete in an inter-schools show jumping competition this weekend, so that meant no lie-in for me.

I was out early again on Sunday as I wanted to walk the track at The Curragh after a downpour overnight, and there have been a few more wet nights since. While it has cleared up now and the forecast is good, the going will be on the slow side.

The rest of the week has been full of the usual kind of tasks ahead of a big race day. We have a Pony Club theme to Sunday's Juddmonte Beresford Stakes card, so we had a coordinating meeting for that on Monday.

As part of the link-up with the Pony Club we have organised for 10 kids to spend this weekend at the Racing Academy and Centre of Education (RACE).

Of those 10, two will be selected to do a placement with Aidan O'Brien at Ballydoyle next summer, which is a fantastic opportunity for them.

I hope for the sake of the industry that the FAS funding issue in relation to RACE can be resolved. Of all the courses that FAS is associated with, the apprentice school must be one of the best.

Everybody that comes out of RACE goes straight into employment, and I'd imagine its funding is paid for twice over when you take into account the number of skilled staff that it delivers every year.

Sunday's card is our last high-profile fixture of the season. It promises to be a fantastic programme, especially after Michael Halford's decision to supplement Casamento for the Beresford. Michael brought Casamento to The Curragh training grounds to work on Tuesday before opting to pay the €10,000 supplementary fee.

The Sheikh Mohammed-owned colt has tremendous promise on the back of his second to Pathfork in the National Stakes, so it will be great to have him here again.

With the CL Weld Park Stakes and the Hacketts Bookmakers Cesarewitch also on the schedule, we are set for some cracking racing.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie

Irish Independent

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