From 1902 until recent times, the May meeting at Kilbeggan was the traditional start of the racing season at Loughnagore, until recent times. It brought people home from around Ireland and even from Britain.
Tomorrow evening (Friday), May 12 at 5.15pm, the second fixture of the year will be expected to bring a large crowd from far and near to enjoy the great spectacle that is Kilbeggan races. The April meeting brought increased attendances and Friday's fixture is expected to bring even more with three sponsored races on the card.
Kilbeggan Races Manager Paddy Dunican said: “Our first race meeting in 2017 got off to a brilliant start. We had a big crowd and we experienced a 5% increase in our attendance on last year’s race meeting. We had big fields of horses with very exciting and competitive racing and our last race on the evening finished with a dead heat between Ben Brody and Lambs Lane."
Aside from hard work and attention to detail the success of the Kilbeggan racing team could be due to 'Hidden Charm' and 'Creative Talent', but, coincidentally this was the name of the first two winners on the card last month. The latter was a local winner for trainer Andrew McNamara, when well ridden by Paul Townsend to win at 5/2.
The other very popular winner was Lucky Pat trained by the inimitable Dot Love; he ran Stonehall Jack and the others into the ground, to record his third success in three races at Kilbeggan. This brought back memories of course specialist Liberty Counsel, who went on to win the Irish Grand National for the great trainer. Lucky Pat will surely be running in the Midlands National in July. Gordon Elliott had a double with Fridaynightlights and Isabella Liberty, who both went on to run at Punchestown.
Interestingly, Willie Mullins trained Airlie Beach to win three races at Kilbeggan in 2015 to 2016. This same horse was second to Apples Jade in the Grade 1 Mares Champion Hurdle ahead of top novices Karalee, Whiteout, and Augusta Kate. The winner may well win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2018. Please note all Willie Mullin’s horses at Kilbeggan in the novice hurdles and the bumpers, as you could be looking at a champion or winnings in your pocket!
THREE SPONSORED RACES
Racing for the specialist is about large fields, competitive races, a few favourites winning, bringing the joy of success. This is what you will have this Friday. Westmeath County Council are sponsoring the feature race - the Belvedere House, Gardens & Park Handicap Hurdle of €20,000. The Sean Hughes Memorial Park Hotel Beginners Chase of €12,500 is generously sponsored by the Mullingar Park Hotel; and the Irish Stallion Farms Handicap Hurdle is sponsored by the EBF.
Make sure to arrive early on Friday evening and, remember, the first race is at 5.15pm.