Years ago, one late afternoon, Maggie Murphy, an elderly neighbour of mine called me over to the gate of the house she shared with her two brothers, a sister and a niece.
I was on my way home from town with ‘the messages’ and she was wondering if there was any news ‘over’ that I could impart. That was a regular happening anyway and the ‘over’ to us Tralee Roaders meant over in town.
I can’t remember what bits of news I had to tell her on that occasion but I do remember well a question she asked me and a story she told me that afternoon.
“Have you any interest in the greyhounds Johnny,” she asked. I told her I wouldn’t be left have a greyhound and that my father hated them. And she laughed and choked and beat her chest and when she looked back at me there were tears running down her face.
“Jesus we noted ourselves inside in Tralee one night years ago when your grandfather’s dog ‘Ruby Tonic’ won some big race there.
“We had flags made from flour bags and we were roaring and crying and laughing and we made a show of ourselves. All the neighbours from Knockeen in were there and half the crowd from over in town were there – I’ll always remember it,” said Maggie.
I couldn’t help thinking of her this morning when Maggie Prendiville confirmed for me that ‘Midtown Raffa had won the Irish Independent Laurels at Curraheen Park in Cork last night.
I had seen the results on the Irish Greyhound Board website earlier as I had gone to it for news of the race earlier this morning. All was calm and quiet in the run-up to the race as they had all been there before.
Maggie Prendiville’s dad, a co-owner of ‘Raffa’ wasn’t available for comment this morning and probably won’t be until well out in the week.
I’m reliably informed that a woman with a brush and a dust pan cleared the remaining ‘Raffa’ disciples from the bar on the course when Sunday morning was threatening to break.
However, Skevena Syndicate boss, John Skevena O’Sullivan responded this morning and expressed the delight of the group at the great win.
“He was due that win and he had been promising something great but we didn’t know when it would come. But by God he delivered with some style last night and he had it wrapped up as soon as he left the traps. He strode away out of danger and never ‘looked back’ and was four or five lengths at the line. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and by God last night was worth waiting for,” said John.
Trainer, Moss O’Connor’s grand-daughter, Millie Hughes was presented with one of ‘Raffa’s’ winning rosette last night and insisted on wearing it to mass in Cordal this morning.
The Irish Greyhound Board site also carried a report of the race and, with sincere congratulations to: Moss O’Connor and Mossie Leane, Dauber, John Skevena, John O’Connell, Billy and Tony Colbert and Sean Cody, I’ll let you read the report of the heroics of Midtown Raffa in Cork last night. Read it in the knowledge that the owners and trainers have had many a near miss and a dashed hope with the same ‘Raffa’ and that’s why last night’s win was so special. The headline says it all:
Raffa Dashes to Laurels Glory
Midtown Raffa saved his best start and best performance for the night that mattered as he raced to Irish Independent Laurels success at a packed Curraheen Park on Saturday night.
The hugely talented son of Kinloch Brae and Rafa Baby was sent to traps the 2-1 favourite, despite plenty willing to take him on, but he chose the right night to get his trapping in order.
It was immediately evident that the Mossie O’Connor trained star was going to take the world of beating as he matched the noted fast starter Knocktoo Garry at traps before making his superior early dash count. Quickening into a clear lead on the corner, the race was over as a contest as early as the second turn.
Burgess Rumble slipped around second, while Mimis Ace came next, but they were only battling it out for minor honours. Owned by the Skevena Syndicate, the July ’12 whelp displayed few signs of fatigue as he crossed the line five and a half lengths clear of Burgess Rumble in a very quick 28.31. Mimis Ace was just a short head away third.
The syndicate that owns Raffa are made up of Dave Prendiville, John Sullivan, Sean Cody plus brothers Tony and Billy Colbert, both based in New York. Tony runs New York City’s Tir na Nog bar near Madison Square Garden and he was certain that he made the right decision to hop on a plane, “I was insistently told I just had to come ‘home’ for this; what an experience and reception.”
Mossie O’Connor ruled out a crack at the English Derby saying “You need to prepare for that, and we haven’t. But we will now look at the BoyleSports Derby.”
One would also suspect they may be tempted by the BoyleSports race of Champions at Tralee next month, but for the moment they can concentrate on celebrations.
Here’s a link on which you can seen Midtown Raffa in his semi-final race at the same venue last week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paBfnhNa7Xs