TWO years ago road trotting made a welcome return to Baltimore after a break of over 30 years.
Now, this weekend the local committee is busily preparing to host the All-Ireland Road Trotting Championships.
Tradition, in time gone by, was that this fixture was always held on Palm Sunday but this year the committee has taken the decision to hold the event a week earlier, this Sunday, to fit into the road racing calendar with race meetings being held every second Sunday, thus the change in date.
The well-prepared course on the eastern side of this famous fishing village runs from Reengaroga Cross to Skinner’s Cross. The course is an uncompromising test of horse and jockey with a tough uphill two furlong run to the finish.
The original committee comprised of Johnace Hegarty, Youen Jacob, John Crowley, Teddy Browne, Ralph Skinner and members who have passed away, Bertie Connolly, Barty Scully and DD O’Driscoll.
Today’s members include John and Declan Crowley, Danny Connolly, Maeve McCarthy, Sinead and Tim O’Reilly, David and Jenny Brickley, Donal and Tadhg Murphy, Finbarr and Pauline Brickley, Aidan O’Driscoll, Ciarán Brickley, Martin Leonard, Youen Jacob, Paddy Collins, Jerry O’Driscoll, Mike O’Mahony, James McCarthy, Brian Holmes, Paidi Hegarty, Seamus and MJ O’Driscoll and John Hurley, who will all be on duty on the day in lending a helping hand.
The committee has a host of silverware to present to the winners of each of the six races, including The Noel Crowley Memorial Cup, The Donie O’Reagan Cup, The Bartie Scully Cup, The Micheal O’Driscoll Cup, The Bertie Connolly Memorial Cup and The Baltimore Road Racing Committee Cup.
An entry of over 30 horses is expected with the feature race being the All-Ireland road trotting championship with a field of six set to face the starter for the highlight of the 2015 winter-spring road season.
There is a €1,600 purse for the event with the winner taking home the Noel Crowley Memorial Cup and a specially commissioned rug.
2014 winner Dream Maker is back to defend the crown he won in Old Chapel and will be favourite to retain his title. His stable companion, Meadowbranch McCoy, will also line up for the event. Both have been lightly raced this year and both are trained by John Shanahan, who is no stranger to winning All-Irelands.
Conway Tiger, a winner of two Grade A races this term in Ballygurteen and Dunmanway, will have owner, Deirdre Goggin, in the plate and must be respected.
Stan The Man, who defeated Dream Maker at this meeting last year, is finding form just at the right time and has another lady jockey, Marie Moloney, on board. After a second place in Durrus, Stan The Man must enter the equation.
Cams Decision, a multiple winner in Grade B races, had his first outing in the Grade A in Durrus but ran below par that day and will be one of the outsiders.
Lakeside Dragon is an interesting entry. After a second in Dunmanway he won with ease in the Grade B in Durrus and could be the one to upset his more fancied rivals.
The main sponsors on Sunday are Alan and Linda Holmes of The Sibin Bar in Rath, along with many local businesses coming on board to ensure a successful meeting. Without their help this meeting would not take place. For the ladies there is a best dressed lady competition, sponsored by Marion Creedon-Hegarty of Top Image, with some great prizes on offer.
The event has taken a massive effort by the local committee and a special thanks to Bartie Connolly, who is making his lands available at the venue for parking so spectators will only have a short walk to the course. After racing there will be live music in The Sibin Bar and racing gets underway at 2.30pm.