Having conquered the slopes of Cheltenham, some of Ireland’s top jockeys will face the streets of Youghal in east Cork on Friday when they go to post for the town’s fourth annual donkey derby.
Ten jockeys will do battle along two circuits of a 100m course on the main street.
This year’s contestants are local hero Davy Russell along with Paul Townend, Mark Enright, Davy Condon, Martin Ferris, Patrick Mullins, Rachel Blackmore, Colin Motherway, Patrick Mangan, and Paul Carberry.
Each rider forms part of a three-person team representing a local business.
On a night that inevitably begins with chaos before evolving into even more chaos, teams also compete for points in shopping trolley and space hopper relays.
More than 2,000 spectators are expected to throng the streets, with race commentary delivered by Conna jockey Johnny Burke. Ireland rugby player Seán O’Brien is usually a regular attendee.
The traditional post-Cheltenham week derby is now established as the kick-start event for the town’s yearly array of festivals.
It is organised by Youghal Chamber of Tourism and Development and sponsored by local businesses. It helps raise funds for the summer Queen of the Sea festival “which, in turn, donates to the Cork Cancer Research Centre and the RNLI”, said Youghal Chamber manager Siobhán Sheehan.
In an era when the physical divide between professional sportsmen and the public grows ever wider, she said, the top jockeys inevitably provide refreshing cordiality as they socialise in the pubs before and after the event.
Collins’s Bakery and Deli will provide pre-race cakes and snacks to celebrate its 135th anniversary.
Races start at the North Main Street post office at 7.30pm on Friday.
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