The going was decidedly more firm than Cheltenham and the Cotswolds course will never present the challenge of newly-laid main drainage overlay, but the on-street battle for glory that is Youghal’s Donkey Derby had punters in East Cork smiling last night.
The annual ‘race card’ owes its origins to local star jockey Davy Russell and raises funds for the summer Queen of the Sea Festival, which supports Cork Cancer Centre and the RNLI.
The 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner brought a stable-load of colleagues to the starting line, including Rachel Blackmore, Mark Enright, Martin Hennessy, David McGrath, David Mullins, Jody Townend, Martin Ferris, Davy Condon, Colin Motherway and Patrick Mangan.
Conna jockey John Burke obligingly availed of the PA system to translate the chaos into commentary, as teams of three — comprising a jockey, a bar, and a business — competed in four novel events, along 60 metres of asphalt.
Quickly discarding all notions of dignity and egged on by a 1,500 attendance, Ireland’s national hunt fraternity fearlessly bounced their way up and down the street atop some sort of ball and aboard crossbred contraptions, with Danny Mullins proving the fastest ball- hopper.
After a bone-jarring shopping trolley chase, the teams were then tethered for an unseemly four-legged contest.
Compared to the preceding mayhem, the donkeys, provided by Clonmel’s Eddie O’Gorman, were positively majestic as they lined up for two eliminators and a final.
Despite Rachel Blackmore’s best attempts to bump Russell’s mount into the Brooke’s SuperValu car park — it was victory on home tarmac for the local man.
With the crowd in tumultuous support, the former champion jockey left David Mullins trailing in his wake, aboard Swift Jack, with Rachel Blackmore on “the big yoke”, as Mr Burke commentated, the length of the town’s AIB branch in third.
The winner was quickly surrounded by a stampede of supporters, before posing for dozens of ‘photo finishes.’
It was “mighty” to win on home ground, the jockey beamed, before jokingly describing the event as “not really much different” to Cheltenham.
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