Sunday next sees the running of the one hundred and forty fifth Irish Derby at the Curragh. Recently an interesting tidbit surfaced concerning 1911 renewal and its Cashel connection.
For the first time in the fifty-odd years of its existence, the 1911 Irish Derby was borne off by a Tipperary team with their ugly duckling Shanballymore.
Bred and owned by John Kelly of Chadville, Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary, although twice a winner from four starts as a two-year-old from John Dwyer’s country stable in Commons, (Ryan O’Connors) near Cashel, Shanballymore was given little chance against the sleek Curragh contenders not to mention the English challenger trained by the legendary Atty Persses ( trainer of the Tetrarch) .
Shanballymore returned to a great ovation from the large Tipperary contingent, who had travelled up to the Curragh to support their local champion.
After the race the bizarre origins of the winner began to come to light. His sire, Popoff, was an own-brother to the good steeplechaser Romanoff. Popoff was given away as a yearling, owing to his having a dropped hip.
Sold to a short-sighted farmer for £25, he was later raffled for 6d. tickets, played for in a card game as a thirty-shilling stake and exchanged for a barrel of porter! He was finally owned by Charles Maxwell of Scarrough, Annacarty.
Shanballymore’s dam, Calyce, was purchased by John Kelly for £6. Tipperary bookmaker, Bryan O’Donnell, offered Kelly 100 to 1 against Shanballymore one day winning the Derby. Kelly accepted his offer ... Partly for this reason Kelly refused several attractive offers for his colt prior to the Derby.
For John Kelly, a farmer from Cappawhite, the 1911 Derby was a fairytale come true, while for John Dwyer, the small-time trainer from the shores of Loughfedora (Lake of the Weaver), Cahir Road, Cashel, it provided the highlight of a lifetime’s devotion to racing.
John Doyle, who rode Shanballymore, was one of a family of celebrated Irish jockeys, He was winning his second consecutive Irish Derby. In later years he had no less than five sons all riding as jockeys, one became a trainer in the North of England another Jimmy, with his race riding behind him became a work rider with Vincent O’Brien, in Ballydoyle, he live for some years near the Rock and later in Boherclough Street. In December 1911 Doyle purchased Rossmore Lodge for £1300, where he trained successfully for many years.
In more recent years Paddy (Darkie) Prendergast has upheld the tradition of this famous establishment.