RHYDS Panache – with Chris O’Reilly in the bike – took the Red John Memorial Final at Lyre.
The final will go down as one of the greatest races ever ran in Ireland. Rhyds Destiny, who impressed in the qualifying heat on Saturday, set a strong early pace. At the halfway point of the mile and a quarter race Gentleman Jim joined the leader and with three furlongs to pace took up the running, all the while the field as closing in.
Turning for home Gentleman Jim was still to the fore but the chasing pack was coming from all angles, Master Plan in the centre, Porterstown Courage on the outside and Rhyds Panache up the rail.
In the shadow of the post, Rhyds Panache just got up by a neck to beat Porterstown Courage with Gentleman Jim a half length back. There were emotional scenes in the winner’s enclosure as driver Chris O’Reilly, a life-long friend of Red John, was almost speechless.
‘This is the one I always wanted to win and I think I must had got a little help from my friend John up there in heaven,’ O’Reilly said.
‘There was no room turning for home but as the horses tired a small gap appeared and my horse ran on. Look, he tries his heart out and we will enjoy tonight,’ added O’Reilly, his voice tinged with both sadness and joy.
The Maven Trot Final was another epic encounter. Emeric Du Perreux was all the rage in the betting and punters bet this one as if defeat was not an option. Those who wedged in looked happy as the five-year-old took up the running. With a mile to race Martin Loughran on Valliant De Gueham came alongside the leader and for the remaining mile hassled the leader.
Entering the final quarter mile Emeric looked the likely winner but Loughran was not done for and ran out a three-length winner.
Tadgh Murphy, who in the past has been southern champion driver though in latter years is the trainer at IB Stables, donned his silks for ‘a catch drive’ in the PJI Engineering Handicap Final on Benny Camden, who got the better of Rhyds Rival in another epic battle.
‘I think I go into retirement on a winning note,’ joked Murphy in the post-race interview.
The meeting of Abraham and Vigo De Bassiere in the Free for All Trot was eagerly anticipated and they served up another thriller with Vigo coming out on top but Beach De Bellouet almost stole the glory from his more famed rivals.
American Rebel took the three-year-old grass championship and the winner looks destined for stardom.
In the consolation finals King Wills Arrival (ith 16-year-old Oisin Quill), Stakes On The Pan (who ran terrible on day one in the heats but showed his true mettle), and Besame Mucho (who John Richardson described as the unluckiest drive he had in years in the heats) were all winners.
On a weekend of 23 races this scribe could write pages on the action, which was top-class in a venue that owner Ger Hegarty has done so much work on and was met with with universal approval. The Red John Committee pulled out all the stops and were rewarded for their efforts.
Red John Memorial final: 1. Rhyds Panache, C O’Reilly; 2. Porterstown Courage, J Cowden; 3. Gentleman Jim, J Richardson.
Maven Trot final: 1 Vaillant De Gueham, M Loughran; 2. Emeric Du Perreux, J Richardson; 3. Urbano De Selles, B Roche.
PJI Engineering Handicap Final: 1. Benny Camden, T Murphy; 2. Rhyds Rival, B Roche; 3. Newtown Major, M McAleer.
M50 Skip Hire FFA Trot 1. Vigo De Bassiere, K Sheehy; 2. Abraham, S Duggan; 3. Beach de Bellouet, F Kavanagh Jnr.
Oakwood Stud/Keohane Readymix Three-Year-Old Grass Championship: 1. American Rebel, T O’Leary; 2. Elski, P Kane Jnr; 3. IB Notorious, D Murphy.
RJM Consolation Final: 1. King Wills Arrival, O Quill; 2. Coalford Bruce, T O’Leary; 3. Streamside Star, E Joyce.
PJI Engineering Consolation: 1. Stakes On The Pan, P Kane Jnr; 2. IB McGregor, F Kavanagh Jnr; 3. Panam Colt, L Kelleher.
Maven Consolation: 1. Besame Mucho, J Richardson; 2. Banialouka, K Sheehy; 3. Tarnao Josselyn.