Ian Fortune

The RCÉ Winter Racing Festival got off to a flier at Shelbourne Park on Thursday night with thirteen wonderfully competitive races, numerous impressive scorers and a superb display from Cheque For Sir to capture the feature, the final of the 2022 Dublin Cup.

There were so many highlights but Cheque For Sir had to take the headlines after he completed a most impressive march through the Dublin Cup, claiming the €7,500 decider in typically dominant fashion for Karol Ramsbottom and the aptly named Cash Back Syndicate.

He may have suffered defeat in the opening round but was foot-perfect in his next three outings. That was again the case on Thursday. Breaking smartly from trap three, he quickly mastered the majority of his rivals, although he only just cleared Flaminmoneybags on the bend.

Once doing so, Craggan Mor emerged as the main threat. Supporters of the pace-setter may have been concerned into the third turn as Craggan Mor is a big finisher but Cheque For Sir was relentless up front and the son of Droopys Sydney and Yahoo Ava galloped right to the line to emerge a thoroughly deserving three length scorer in a fastest of the night 28.53 (.20 slow). Craggan Mor was second with Press Unlock finishing fast to sit just a length adrift in third. 

Conor Matthews Racing Support Officer Shelbourne Park presents the trophy to Patrick Casey and The Cash-Back-Syndicate owners of Cheque For Sir winner of the 2022 Dublin Cup A1/A2.                      Pic: Imelda Grauer


Kieran Lynch had a successful night sending out a quick double in the opening half of the card with both Macho Pride and Ballinacarriga coming home in front in their respective races.

Macho Pride initiated the double in the GRI Old Stagers 525. A full six months younger than his nearest rival, the son of Good News and Sylvias Chloe displayed the benefit of youth as he shot clear in the early yards to dominate throughout.

Manalishi Chief and Urban Fire both gave chase throughout but could never get close enough to pressure the leader. Owned by the Under The Stars Syndicate, Macho Pride bounded up the home straight to record an impressive two length success over Manalishi Chief in 28.78 (.20 slow).


Ballinacarriga was a tremendous winner of the open 525 for the Anna Mac Syndicate in the sixth race on the card as he completed the Kieran Lynch double.

The son of Laughil Blake and Saunders Akita actually led into the turn after a fast start but allowed Lochranza up his inner on the turn.

Once going to the front Lochranza seemed a very likely winner but Ballinacarriga had other ideas. Clinging onto the coat tails of the leader, he was in the right position to strike as they turned for home. Staying on strongly, the powerful tracker led on the line. Ballinacarriga took the verdict by a head from Lochranza in 28.69 (.20 slow).


Following the double of Kieran Lynch, there was more Cork success in the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Trial Stake with Dean Harpur sending out Ballycowen Liam to emerge a facile winner in 28.74 (.20 slow).

Not renowned as a fast starter, he would have given his supporters a pleasant surprise when shooting from trap four to lead into the turn. A powerful son of Premier Fantasy and Ballycowen Roxy, he was never going to be denied once dictating. It helped that many of those chasing found traffic but Debbie Doyle’s Ballycowen Liam was always in control as he ran out a five length scorer over Orange Eimear. 

Conor Matthews Racing Support Officer presents the trophy To Austin Harper after Ballycowen Liam won the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Trial Stake at Shelbourne Park.  Also included are Dean & Evin Harper and owner Debbie Doyle.            Pic: Imelda Grauer


It was fitting that a night packed with exciting racing ended with a remarkable contest as Denis Murphy’s Callaway Masters ran on strongly to reel in the long-time leader, Hello Mom.

The latter seemed destined to race to victory when absolutely shooting from trap three.

It meant she was upwards of five lengths clear on the bend but, importantly, the Owen McKenna trained Callaway Masters just managed to clear his rivals to turn second. This was decisive as the son of Droopys Sydney and Callaway Razl began to bridge the gap as they hit halfway.

Still three and a half lengths adrift at the third turn, he continued to close with each stride, culminating in a dramatic finish. Hello Mom was so brave out front but Callaway Masters was ultimately too strong and he got up in the final yards to score by a head in 32.95 (.20 slow).


Pat Norton’s Jirano Jetstream isn’t always the fastest starter but he certainly knew what was needed in the final of the Retired Greyhound Trust A1 as he shot from the inside box to make every inch.

Despite edging off the fence, the Liam O’Rourke trained son of Droopys Jet and Ballymac Scala held a comfortable lead into the back straight over Toolmaker Stan and Bromore Cliffs. The pair didn’t make any ground to halfway although Toolmaker Stan did begin to close into the third turn.

Jirano Jetstream was in no humour to surrender his advantage, however. The March ’20 whelp kept on finding to repel the challenge of Toolmaker Stan and Bromore Cliffs by a half length and a neck in 28.68 (.20 slow).


On what was a tremendous night for Cork based handlers, Burgess Cutey was the cherry on top as she ran out a facile winner of the open 525 twelfth race.

Owned by Sheila Spillane and JJ Fennelly, the daughter of Burgess Bucks and Droopys Cutey was a close second to the fast-starting Rowlers Road into the bend before asserting as they entered the back.

BY halfway she was three lengths clear and she continued to pile on the pressure, hitting the third turn with four lengths in hand. She never took her foot off the pedal thereafter and eventually hit the line five lengths clear of Rowlers Road in 28.68 (.20 slow).


A Lucky Lady came in as a reserve in the final of the Barking Buzz App Open 525 and duly took her chance, racing prominently from the outset before reeling in long-time leader Ballyard Shawny.

The latter displayed fine early speed from trap four to take over from the fast starting A Lucky Lady on the run to the turn but the latter was always sitting close enough in second. As the leader began to show signs of fatigue, A Lucky Lady made her move. Jerry Melia’s talented daughter of Ballymac Eske and Julies Paradise came through on the run in to hit the line a length and a half to the good over Ballyard Shawny in 28.78 (.20 slow).


Two great supporters of the sport, Gavin O’Mahoney and Peter McMunn were on the mark in the second race as Storys Law ran out a superb winner of the final of the This Runs Deep A3 525.

The Murt Leahy trained son of Loughteen Blanco and Droopys Berry was always in complete control, flashing from four to dominate.

Lincoln County moved second on the corner but could never land a glove on the pace-setter. In fact, Storys Law ran clear of his rival up the home straight to eventually hit the line an ever-widening five lengths to the good over Lincoln County in 28.67 (.20 slow).  


A slight delay to the start didn’t affect Sean Bourke’s Mustang Thiago as he ran out a brave winner of the Novice 750, getting up in the final strides to deny the fast finishing Coonough Crow and early pace-setter Ballymac Sona.

The latter flashed out and set a strong gallop but was always under pressure once the Dolores Ruth trained Mustang Thiago turned close to the pace. It was clear in the second half of the contest that it was going to go right to the wire. Despite the best efforts of Ballymac Sona, she failed to hold on out front. Mustang Thiago got first run at her and he led late to win by three parts of a length in 42.09 (.30 slow), while Coonough Crow also finished fast to grab second on the line.


Racing commenced with Tommys Hewick emerging a tremendous winner of the Talking Dogs A4 525 despite doing plenty wrong.

By My Hip got loose early but was always under pressure when Tommys Hewick recovered from a tardy start to go second.

Once doing so the Michael Donnelly trained son of Jaytee Jet and Me Penny was always going to be too strong for the leader. Taking charge on the third turn, the April ’21 whelp, owned by the Horse That Bought the Dog Syndicate, eased right away to win in similar fashion to his equine namesake by some seven lengths in 28.77 (.20 slow). The eye-catching Country Rose flew home in second.  


Wexford men Johnny Donohoe, Tom O’Donnell and Garry Dempsey had reason to smile in the fourth race, the final of the Shelbourne Regulars A2/A3 525 as they not only sent out the winner Rathnagore Syd, but also the runner-up Coolavanny Nanni.

The former displayed his trademark early speed to dictate the pace into the back straight but, after failing to hold on to his lead in recent outings, the eye was drawn to the chasing pair of Coolavanny Nanni and hot favourite Dun Loich. Backers of the pace-setter needn’t have worried, however. The son of Droopys Sydney and Zari Session ran right to the line to emerge a comfortable scorer by two and a half lengths in 28.89 (.20 slow).


The rescheduled opening semi-final of the Shelbourne Marathon was run as part of the card and Fire Height Mane came through to win although it did look like hard work.

Taking charge after four hundred yards, Brendan Maunsell’s son of Good News and Redzer Ruby proceeded to open a decisive lead.

Jacktavern Hero stayed on at the finish to qualify in second but Fire Height Mane held on by three and a half lengths in 60.49 (.40 slow).