WHILE punters toasted the success of 23 Irish winners at Cheltenham last week, locals in Courtmacsherry also had reason to celebrate as they have a connection with four of the winning jockeys.
Densy Whelton, of the Courtmacsherry Strand Races – which take place on the beach every July – said they are thrilled with their success and the fact that all four jockeys raced in Courtmacsherry in their youth.
‘We had four jockeys, Paul Townend, Jack Kennedy, who actually won the Gold Cup riding Minella Indo, Danny Mullins – who had his first winner there last week – and Richie Condon, who also had his first Cheltenham win last week and who won our main race, the Lislee Derby in 2011,’ said Densy.
‘They all came up through the pony rank and rode at the races here when they were about 12 or 13 years of age and it’s unusual to have so many of them winning at Cheltenham.’
Densy describes their races as unique because they are run on a strand.
‘Because it’s strand racing in a round course, we have to make up the course the night before and put it up just before the tide takes it out.’
Densy recalls Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey Jack Kennedy once saying that ‘if you can ride the bends in Courtmacsherry, you can ride anywhere.’
If their connection to race winners wasn’t enough, another jockey, Johnny Burke, who also raced on the strand in his youth, rode two winners at Kempton last Saturday.
As with most sporting events this year, the Courtmacsherry Strand Races won’t be taking place this summer due to Covid-19.
‘It’s a great day out and we will miss it but hopefully we’ll be back in July 2022,’ added Densy.