BY TIM KELLEHER
THIS was a day when the star attractions, Evenwood Sonofagun and William Laidler from Durham, delivered the goods, and in record style.
The dream team from the UK landed the 2022 Red John Memorial Pace before a record attendance at Lyre recently.
Cash All set a blistering pace and led for the opening half mile. It was at this point Evenwood Sonofagun joined the issue and was tracked by Northern Pride. Heading down the back straight for the final time the pair were as one and were roared on by the packed attendance.
Turning for home, Evenwood Sonofagun had shaken off the challenge and pulled clear to win easily. The time clock flashed up 2.37.1, a new track record for the mile and a quarter.
The other big final of the weekend, The Maven Trot, again sponsored by Bill Donovan from Florida, produced an epic renewal with Colombia D'Oyse driven by Frank Ouvrie leading from the start. Firstly Buliano challenged, and then Comete Des Landes and Duc D'Arry but Colombia D'Oyse had all the answers. He took the prize for Dublin-based owners Brian Redmond and Meadow Branch Stud.
Rosemary Minahan from the USA but with Bantry connections was on hand to make the presentation to the winning connections and was really taken in by the occasion.
The winning driver was one of five French drivers who were invited over for the weekend for the inaugural Ireland v France Drivers’ Challenge. The French drivers were comprehensive winners of the two challenge races. Eddy Marceaux gave Frank Ouvrie his second winner of the meeting and the French rout was completed when Hellios De Lara and Erno Szmiay took the second leg of the series. Ouvrie then teamed up with Besame Mucho to win for the third time at the meeting. Another of the French visitors, Stefan Mournier, teamed up with Boyardo to win for the Joe Sheridan owned 11-year-old.
There was a great spread of results for the smaller stables over the two days in Lyre. Timmy Moloney from Grange near Clonakilty had two winners – Share A Smile on Saturday and The Red Rebel on Sunday. Both were outsiders in each contest.
Jamie Hurley from Reenascreena also had two winning drives for the festival. Foxfield Ranger, who Hurley trains for Mattie Carberry from Crossmaglen, upset the odds in the four-year-old pace, leading all the way to beat race favourite Stateside Coady. Then he had another winning drive with Oakwood Maestro who again was easy in the betting market and won with a bit to spare.
Porterstown Aled and Derry McCarthy from Drimoleague continued their winning run when landing the Grade F Pace. Bits & Pieces was all the rage but Porterstown Aled was always in front and looks to have a bright future.
Brywins Starship was given a perfectly-timed drive by Richard Kingston to land the spoils in the Grade C Pace, just getting his nose in front at the line.
IB Sweet Candy Girl with Oisin Quill in the bike put in a five-star performance to win the two-year-old race. This daughter of Sweet Lou is owned by Donal Murphy from Baltimore.
Bennie De Beveron was given a confident drive by one of the up-and-coming women’s drivers, Charley Flanagan, to get her first winner of her fledgling career. Just In Time for Sean Kane was an easy winner of the three-year-old trot while Iron Paddy took the four-year old trot for Longford-based Ronan Norton. Churchview Camelot was all class when taking the red rosette in the three-year-old Pace for Dublin-based Alan Wallace.
The Red John Consolation pace produced the best finish of the weekend with Fairdays Western and 16-year-old Adam Corey from Glengormley in Antrim leading all the way and held on in a blanket finish. Eliano Love and Anthony Malone from Dublin took the Maven Consolation and another win for a small yard.
Im Great Hanover was betting as if defeat was out of the question and duly obliged for Dublin-based Bobby Barry. The winner was driven by Patrick Kane Jnr.
Rhyds Rival was another that attracted major support in the Grade D Pace. Eoin Joyce never gave his supporters any worries, sweeping to the front on the run in and winning as a well-bet favourite should.
Brutenor has been a great servant to the Hill family from Leap and again delivered the goods for Patrick Hill, who was a personal friend of the late Red John O’Donova. His post-race interview was emotional but summed up the goodwill towards the O’Donovan family.