A day at Limerick Racecourse that will never be forgotten

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

The extended Molony family at the unveiling of the statues of Tim and Martin Molony. Picture: Dave Gaynor
MEMORIES from Saturday’s meeting in Limerick Racecourse will last a lifetime for many different reasons.

MEMORIES from Saturday’s meeting in Limerick Racecourse will last a lifetime for many different reasons.

Over €144,000 was raised for Irish Injured Jockeys thanks to a charity race and JP McManus donating €100,000. The families of Martin and the late Tim Molony saw their magnificent achievements on the racecourse celebrated with the unveiling of a statue.

The TV screens showed the emotional scenes from Sandown of Tony McCoy’s last day in the saddle. And Bryan Murphy, of the Dunraven Arms, will never forget the day he beat the great Johnny Murtagh and Kevin Darley in a driving finish in the charity race.

But that wasn’t his highlight - and it is a fitting one considering the purpose of the day - it was seeing JT McNamara.

“JT was there with Caroline and their children. He lives just around the corner from me and I’m in to see him on a regular basis. He gave me a pile of instructions. I don’t think he was too impressed with the ride but it was great to have him there,” said Bryan. Robbie McNamara was in everyone’s thoughts and was wished well on his ongoing recovery.

Bryan, aged 60, said it was extremely kind of JP McManus to give him a good horse - Hurricane Sky - and Frank Berry to specifically pick it.

“The trainer Charles O’Brien phoned me that morning and said, ‘He will be a smashing horse to ride but he goes on and off the bridle’. I said, ‘Don’t worry about that as I will be doing the same thing!’.

“He travelled extremely well, he never went off the bridle. I thought I was going to finish third coming down the straight and about 10 yards from the post I found myself in front,” said Bryan, whose son Hugh also rode in the race.

All the 13 jockeys collected much more than the €1,000 sponsorship each to take part. Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, who would have gone long odds in-running wearing his own Qatar Racing colours, raised over €20,000. The total stands at €144,236 with more money yet to come in.

“It is a terrific amount. We are extremely lucky and privileged to have JP in County Limerick. He made a very generous gift to the Irish Injured Jockeys. That is what made the whole day - the amount raised.

“We are all off to Punchestown this week to support Irish Injured Jockeys. There are three or four jockeys who have been very badly hurt in the last few years so it is very important to give them as much support as we can,” said Bryan.

The other highlight of the day was the unveiling of Dublin-sculptor Paul Ferriter’s statue to the multiple-champion jockeys Tim and Martin Molony. The Limerick brothers dominated the Irish and UK racing scene in the 1940s-50s.

Martin, a very modest man now aged 89, was there to see it. His son Peter, of Rathmore Stud, said: “He kept asking me why were all the people there and I said they were there for him. It is a smashing statue, he loved it.” Many were involved in getting it erected including Will Molony, a son of Tim.

“It was a great occasion and great fun,” said Peter. The celebrations continued that evening in the Dunraven Arms. Peter wished to thank Tamso Doyle, Carey Ann Lordan, Colm O’Keeffe and Conor O’Neill, general manager of Limerick Racecourse.

“It was a magical day really, the atmosphere was very special. Despite months of planning and preparations the race day itself came at a very poignant time after the recent injuries sustained by local jockey Robbie McNamara, who is to the forefront of all our minds at present. It was a phenomenal day and I was overwhelmed by the funds which were raised. People were extremely generous,” said Conor.