BY TIM KELLEHER
BENNY Camden in The Red John Memorial Pace and Aubade A Helene in The Maven Trot were the big winners at the 2020 Red John Memorial Festival in Lyre, Clonakilty.
Due to heavy rain on Friday night the committee took the decision to run all 21 races – 11 from Saturday and 10 on Sunday – on Sunday, and the rain stayed away and the card was completed.
The Red John Memorial for pacers and The Maven Cup for trotters both had two elimination heats with four horses from each going forward to the final
In the Red John, Rhyds Rival ran them ragged, winning the opening heat with a front-running drive by John Richardson, leading home Benny Camden by two and a half lengths with 2019 winner Rhyds Panache and Porterstown Courage also qualifying.
The second heat was also won in convincing fashion by Master Plan who led home Newtown Major and Llwyns Delight with Ayr Majesty securing the final ticket
In the final, Ayr Majesty led out but Rhyds Rival took up the running after a circuit. Heading out on the final lap Llwyns Delight took on the leader and led down the back.
Rhyds Rival was still not finished and entering the final quarter overtook his rival and went for glory, all the while Benny Camden was closing.
On the run to line Benny Camden got to and outstayed Rhys Rival to win by half a length. Winning driver Donal Murphy was full of emotion afterwards.
‘Red John was one of us and, to be honest, this is the one we always wanted to win and ranks as one of my greatest achievements in the sport,’ he said.
In the Maven Trot, Bian Luis Porsguen and Emperor Souverain had a rare old tussle in the opening heat with the former getting the nod by one and a quarter length with Besame Mucho and Vallanzana going through to the final.
In the second eliminator Abraham came from last to first to win, beating Aubade A Helene by three-quarters of a length with Bingo Du Connee and Coumbaya Wind also getting the golden tickets.
In the final Abraham was sent off favourite and led from the start. Aubade A Helene joined him after the opening half mile and a war of attrition ensued.
They were neck and neck for the remainder of the race and Abraham looked a winner but Patrick Hill on Aubade A Helene dug deep and eventually won by two and a half lengths.
‘This is my second time winning the Maven (Brutenor in 2018) and I never thought I’d get a second chance of winning it. I grew up with Red John and it means so much to win this weekend,’ added Hill in the winners’ circle.
Gavin Murdock from Belfast took the driving honours for the festival with three winning drives.
The Gypsy Queen won the two-year fillies with All Bets Are Off landing the three-year-old fillies division. Murdock, who trains out of Annaghmore Raceway, completed his treble with Elski.
Three drivers managed doubles on the marathon programme, including Timmy O’Leary who drove Resolute Diamond to win the three-year-old colts and geldings and, later on, American Rebel, both who are owned by London-based Denis Shanahan and trained by his brother John from Leap.
Philip ‘Buster’ Gilligan has been making successful raids to Cork from his Dublin base in the past few weeks and drove both Bain Luis Porsquen and Honor Code to victory. Darren Timlin from Fermanagh is having a good year and Flatteur and Big Mac Delight were both on the score-sheet during the day. Alan Wallace Junior was the third to drive two winners – Indie Hanover and the recently-purchased Eva Dairpet, both owned by Derek Jennings, were impressive in their races.
RESULTS: Red John Memorial Final – 1. Benny Camden, D Murphy; 2. Rhyds Rival, J Richardson; 3. Rhyds Panache, C O’Reilly. The Maven Cup Trot Final: 1. Aubade A Helene, P Hill; 2. Abraham, S Duggan; 3. Coumbaya Wind, C Kerrigan.