Disappointment as Cailín proves party pooper

FIANNA Fáil yesterday suffered an election year setback.

At Cheltenham, Cailín Álainn set out in the Royal & Sun Alliance chase carrying the colours of a syndicate made up of Soldiers of Destiny attached to various Cumainn in Lixnaw and Listowel.

Listowel bookie Berkie Browne said he stood to lose up to €100,000, such was the welter of bets placed on the eight-year-old.

Cailín Álainn had created a certain political ecumenism, with known Fine Gaelers and Labourites getting a slice of the action, he revealed.

But disaster struck when the brown mare came to grief at the fence before the straight while going at a great gallop.

The leader of the syndicate, former mayor of Kerry Cllr Ned O’Sullivan, sported a bowler hat for the occasion.

Ned, who runs a man’s shop, said: “I was in France some months ago and picked it up as I like it. A neighbour of mine in Listowel, Jack Barry, who ran a pub near our shop, always wore a bowler and I thought it was very stylish. So when I saw this one in a shop in France I bought it.

“But you couldn’t go around North Kerry canvassing at a general election wearing a bowler. So it came out today and I think it looks great. I thought it might bring us luck, but fortune did not smile on us. The main thing is the horse is OK and Fianna Fáil will certainly win a seat in Kerry North come the election.”

Another Kerry mayor was also licking his wounds.

Cllr Denis Stack, who served a number of mayoral terms, had just collected a sizeable wad of winnings when he was targeted by a pickpocket.

Limerick chef John Ryan really got the recipe right and had sizeable antepost bets in the oven before his annual pilgrimage.

Ryan, executive chef at Limerick’s Clarion Hotel, had ploughed into Denman at odds as generous as 7/1 over the past few months.

Ruby Walsh steered him home at odds of 6/5.

The chef, along with friends Brian O’Sullivan, an executive with Musgraves in Cork, and Harry Beegan who works with Irish Rail, were giving Dom Perignon a right rattle in the Arkle bar.

John Ryan said: “The job’s done, expenses paid and there will be plenty in the kitty to mark Patrick’s Day in the Windmill bar in Limerick. I felt for months this was the banker of all bankers this year.”

Tara Dwan, who is assistant trainer to her father, Michael Cunningham, has very special memories at Cheltenham.

Tara said: “I was just nine when Dad won the Champion hurdle with For Auction. It was ridden by Colin Magnier and the thrill is still fresh in my mind.”

The biggest bet of the day was landed by Harry Findlay, joint owner of Denman.

He revealed that the win had netted him in the region of £1 million, having got dug in months ago with the bookies.

The great training character of Irish racing, Oliver Brady, again stole the show in the parade ring when he greeted his third-placed Baron de Feypo in the Coral Cup.

Sporting a Monaghan jersey, he cheered in his charge with his customary gusto. The cheers rang out in his native Ballybay late into last night as locals cashed in on their each-way bets with a starting price of 20/1.

As Ted Walsh remarked: “When he has a winner in Ireland people make it a point to go to the winners’ enclosure to witness his sense of celebration.”

Sports Minister John O’Donoghue was busy broadcasting the magnificence of Irish racing to all and sundry, doing the rounds of a multitude of TV and radio interviews.

Padraig Harrington and his wife Caroline were again guests in the JP McManus box, having choppered in after an early morning round of golf.

Patsy Byrne from Duagh again hosted a huge contingent in his private box.

His guests included a number of players from Sunderland, the club where he is now a joint director with Niall Quinn and publican Charlie Chawke.

Betting log

DOWN £80 sterling going into yesterday I ventured forward in nervous mood.

Aran Concerto. My losses by 2.05pm had accumulated to the £100 mark.

Moments of contemplation and reflection followed.

Did not have a bet on the second.

I felt that Newmill, after his recent hurdle run, was up for it big time in the Queen Mother two-mile chase. Minus £120.

With loss of confidence in full charge, had no bet next race.

Was in similar frame of mind assessing the Kim Muire.

Enter Bill Harney who has trained a string at Templemore for as long as milk has diluted cornflakes.

“Jim, get on Cloudy Lane; he was twelves, now down to eights,” said Bill.

Still nursing open wounds I just had a £20 place on the tote.

Success. He won and I got back £50 for my sins.

Down £90.

On to the bumper.

Andrew McNamara, dad of his namesake jockey son, told me Shirley Casper was fantastic value.

My £20 place just missed a dividend, finishing fourth.

Back to minus £120.

Sure, today’s another day.

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