What was described as a “Produce Stakes Final crowd” descended on Clonmel Track on Sunday evening and the new facilities were under extreme pressure as young and old gathered in tribute to the late Christian Flannery whose recent tragic passing caused widespread grief over a large stretch of South Tipperary.
The occasion was a benefit night for Temple Street Hospital together with Christian’s family and the huge attendance not only contributed magnificently to the fund but by their presence illustrated in no uncertain manner the impact that Christian made on his community during his all too brief life.
It was certainly a night to remember by the Banks of the Suir and the organising committee left no stone unturned in their efforts to have something for everyone.
Raffles, auctions, face painting, novelty events and much more added to the occasion which featured a bumper ten race quality card with almost 10,000 euro in prize-money.
The attendance, atmosphere and level of betting with both bookmakers and tote exceeded all expectations and ensured that the evening proved a wonderful success.
The bookmakers enjoyed a beano with nine losing favourites in a row and two winners going off at odds of 8/1 and the punters who were getting poorer with every passing race had to wait until the tenth and final event to see a favourite pass the post in front.
Be that as it may patrons could not but be impressed with the quality of the racing and they were treated to two particularly noteworthy performances. Winning Merry at 3/1 proved a hugely impressive winner of The Village Grill Takeaway A2 525 for Killenaule’s Jennifer O’Donnell clocking a superb best of the night 28.64 on only his third run. Later the Bio Health Centre A2 525 Final saw Mustang Messi trained by Graham Holland for Sean Bourke make all the running in a brilliant 28.67 to complete a hat-trick. Holland went on to complete a fine double when his charge Billis Adare the only favourite to score was a very impressive winner of the concluding Childs Plant Hire A1 550.
The feature event on the card was The Christian Flannery Foundation Fund A3 Final which was won by Vito Wal in 29.02. This son of Droopys Scolari and Vito Maeve is trained by Owen McKenna for The Oval and Round Syndicate.
Race 1 – The Miss Ellie’s Takeaway A7/A9 525 Stake Final.
Local runners headed the market with Innovate going off the 6/4 favourite and Early Charmer well supported at 2/1. The former never really counted and only beat one home but Early Charmer owned and trained in Poulmucka by Bridget Moloney led off the first bend followed by Circus Molly and the pair were clear of Coolbeggan Rebel. That order was maintained to the line with Early Charmer, a son of Blackstone Gene and Knocknaquill Lil, cruising home by four lengths and Circus Molly holding a strong finishing Coolbeggan Rebel by a neck.
Race 2 – The Gain Foods A3 525.
The odds-on Fast Fit Crash looked an unlucky loser losing out by a length having been baulked when challenging at the penultimate bend. Hayleys Wish was first to show but Turbo Dee Jay (Head Bound-Loskeran Dee Jay) took over at the first turn and led from Early Tonic and the favourite which lost valuable ground when making his bid on the rails. In an exciting climax both the jolly and Hayleys Wish flew the finish but Turbo Dee Jay was not to be denied and held their challenges by a length and half a length in 29.33. Owned and trained in Dungarvan by Carmel O’Connor the winner, a 5/2 chance, was breaking her maiden at the third attempt.
Race 3 – The Village Grill Takeway A2 525.
This yielded a superb performance from the 3/1 chance Winning Merry on only his third outing. Owned and trained by Jennifer O’Donnell in Killenaule the son of Skywalker Ace and Hollys Wish soon led and created a big impression when cruising clear of his field off the first bend and romping to a four length win over Papa Smurf with the 5/4 market leader Coologue Smokey half a length back in third spot. Winning Merry who had opened his account in 29.05 on his debut before missing the break and getting no run in the recent major unraced event stopped the clock in a brilliant fastest of the night 28.64 and looks a must for the notebook.
Race 4 – The Mulcahy Construction A4 550 Stake Final.
The layers went 5/2 the field in an open betting race but it was the 3/1 chance Dolcino Don which made the best possible use of the trap one berth to lead on the rails at the opening turn and raced away to a bloodless five length win over Racecourse Wolf and Rockwell Johney.
Race 5 – The Knockgraffon Open Coursing Club Open 300.
Recent sub 16.00 winner Movealong Black was all the rage and went off a hot order at 1/2. However the event yielded a dream result for the layers as the 8/1 chance Watch Out Tom led off the first bend and motored clear to account for Dan The Man and the Movealong Black by three lengths and seven lengths in 16.11. Movealong Black looked to have every chance on the rails on the run to the bend but failed to gain a clear passage and a fifth successive jolly bit the dust on what was becoming a sorry session for the suffering punters. The clear cut winner is a son of Scolari Me Daddy and Watch Out Jess owned and trained in Rathcormac by Mark Drinan.
Race 6 - The Adios Alonso A3 525 Stake Final.
Tivoli Becky was even money favourite in the red jacket but had only one behind her at the line. Elios Shiva began well but 5/2 chance Gurtlug Fantasy went for home approaching the penultimate turn and had just enough in the tank to hold the strong finish of the 6/1 outsider Next Exchapter by a neck with River Gem in third spot. Gurtlug Fantasy (Premier Fantasy-Blasket Music) was gaining a third career win and he posted a clock of 29.10 which was just a spot outside his previous best recorded when successful in last week’s semi-final.
He is owned jointly in Ballyragget by Martin Morrissey and Geoff Doyle.
Race 7 – The Tony Hennessy (Building Contractor) A1 525.
The punters suffered yet another grievous blow here with the success of 8/1 chance Monabrogue Rock.
Jimmy Boy was evens to break the favourite hoodoo and looked a winner for a long way but was in trouble a the run to the final bend and could only take third spot behind the winner which stooped to conquer off the final bend and account for Dannys Wish by a length with the jolly three and a half lengths back.
The winner is a son of Black Shaw and Attana Gel and he clocked 29.09 to gain a third career success.
He is owned and trained outside Thurles by Liam Coady.
Race 8 - The Bio Health Centre A2 525 Final.
Mustang Messi at 5/2 made it eight nil for the bookies with a tremendous career best trap to line display. Coolard Chief was the even money favourite but had no excuses having had a clear run in finishing third beaten eight and a half lengths.
Mustang Messi, trained by Graham Holland for Sean Bourke, has been slow to get off the mark but having been without a win from eight runs he has improved in leaps and bounds after breaking his maiden when winning a local sprint in 16.20.
Watch Out Jerry, a comrade of the earlier sprint winner Watch Out Tom, ran a big race in finishing second beaten three and a half lengths.
Race 9 – The Christian Flannery Foundation Fund A3 525 Final.
Vanrooney was an even money chance to take this feature event of the evening for Owen McKenna but as in last week’s semi-final this one was upstaged by kennel mate VitoWal which took over from Brae Hill approaching the third bend and stayed on well to account for that rival by a length and a half in 29.02. Unusual Account at 12/1 took third place and the winning margins were a length and a half and four lengths. Vanrooney was nearest at the finish in fourth spot after a slow start.
Race 10 – The Childs Plant Hire A1 550 Stake Final.
Long threatening comes at last and Graham Holland completed a double and brought one final little glimpse of light to the punters when his 4/5 chance Billis Adare continued on her upward curve in again recording a career best 29.95 when defeating Brunswick Jack and Leahs Impact by two and a half lengths and five lengths.