Local greatness abounded at Crockafotha

Amidst what’s a music collection nearly as vast as its literary counterpart, contents are equally as diverse. Elvis lines up alongside Meat Loaf, Frank Sinatra sidles up to Queen and The Dubliners are adjacent to Neil Diamond. And that’s only one shelf! Also therein is one compilation of what could loosely be titled operatic tunes.

In actuality, that is to add mileage to the situation because what the discs in reality contain are three tenors – Finbar Wright and Ronan Tynan and Anthony Kearns – delivering their unique renditions of such well known Irish numbers as Danny Boy, The Green Fields Of France and Machusla. Included as well was a version of How Are Things In Glocca Morra.

Sometimes, the stars have a way of aligning themselves. In preparation for the composition of this offering, I asked my mother who sang the latter named ensemble above. For whatever reason, Bing Crosby was exactly the name fate left it very appropriate to hear. Simply because one was intrigued to learn in the wake of the recent Irish Derby that Crosby was part owner of Meadow Court – trained by Paddy Prendergast – which took the contest in 1965.

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All a world away from the idyllic surrounds of #Bellewstown. Now, maybe it’s the farmer in me, in fact it undoubtedly is, but the smaller country meetings thence and in the likes of #Kilbeggan, #Ballinrobe, #Roscommon and #Sligo contain special appeal during what are traditionally the busiest agricultural months.

Naturally the one closest to home holds court most prominently. Even though practicality renders it more prudent to observe matters from headquarters nowadays, the arrival of action ‘on the hill’ signifies a special time of year as the furze bushes hit full bloom and tillage crops begin to turn. By the time of the next fixture at the venue, all that will remain of the latter shall be stubble.

The hill referred to earlier, or Crockafotha, to give it the official name, rather strangely recalled Crosby’s association with the old Irish song referred to a while ago. The air of which became ingrained in the mind when reflecting on the amount of local greatness which abounded at Crockafotha.

There are certain days from a punting perspective which time has lent a seminal feeling to. Like the first time a horse ridden by #NinaCarberry was backed – after being advised in that direction by #NoelMeade. Or the initial occasion upon which a full Lucky 15 was accumulated after a day’s racing. Given that the said occurrence transpired during the Galway Festival, it’ll be no shock that they were all DK Weld inmates!

Prominent protagonists having spells of dominance in their chosen arena is nothing new. The earliest such bountiful period this corner can recall in terms of racing was that of Martin Pipe. In more recent times, Willie Mullins has had a similarly unassailable aura on the Irish scene. Even allowing for that, he has never – yet – come close to Pipe’s staggering achievement of sending out a dozen winners one day over Christmas many years ago. General feeling would’ve been that nobody ever could. However, that it still stands unmatched, such feats are certainly becoming more common in racing.

Some time ago, it was opined that the National Hunt Trainers Championship in Ireland was about to get a much needed infusion of competition with the re-emergence and astuteness of Aidan O’Brien in the sphere. In the midst of the piece, mind you, belief that Gordon Elliott probably stood the best chance of providing the Closutton maestro with the most meaningful competition.

For all the notable achievements to have already decorated the Longwood handler’s training career, his sending out of seven winners in one day surely marks the arrival of his career – and future potential – to a new plateau. It just happened to also coincide with the first day in 14 years of punting which had the perfect ending, but, good and all as that was, Elliott’s achievement couldn’t be eclipsed.

However, as is often the case in these situations, a local connection added another layer to the memorable nature of the day. Primarily in this case due to the burgeoning career of the trainer’s Moonmeister – owned by John and Paula Davison of Kilarkin Stud in Dunboyne – being the magnificent seventh Cullentra success.

A success in which the one and only Billy Rochford also played a special part. ‘Rocky’ has a unique story with the annals of Irish racing and the son of Moon Unit has added and is continuing to add several chapters to same. It’s a decades long success story that you sense isn’t over either.

Elliot’s alacrity in assessing the levels of ability of those in his care is quite astounding. Which often results in multiple plunders at picturesque Perth. So it was during the bountiful period which yielded the seven winners and beyond. Though he wasn’t the only local exponent of his craft to get among the winners during the spell as Gavin Cromwell, Garvan Donnelly and Tom Gibney also engineered success.

Even outside of all those though, there was an even more significant local story as the Darren McGurn owned Dooher – prepared for the big event by Alison Murphy – and Darren Dunne brought the house down in the charity race. Reports that – on foot of such an expert debut – the rider intends to upstage his cousin, jockey Andrew Lynch, cannot be confirmed.

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