Michael Hourigan with Beef Or Salmon. Picture: Caroline Norris.

Superstar horses to feature on new TG4 racing series

TG4 and Touchline Media have joined forces for a new horseracing series - ‘Laochra Na Rásaíochta’ - featuring some of Ireland’s greatest National Hunt horses.

It will commence next Thursday, February 18 at 9.30pm with a one-hour documentary on the tale of the legendary Arkle, winner of three Cheltenham Gold Cups in the 1960s. This is a repeat of the IFTA winner for Best Sports Documentary, first broadcast on TG4 in March 2014.

Episode Two of ‘Laochra Na Rásaíochta’ airs on February 25 and tells the stories of the following famous horses: L’Escargot – winner of the 1970 and 1971 Gold Cups and the 1975 Grand National; Captain Christy – winner of the 1974 Gold Cup; Brown Lad – the only horse ever to win three Irish Grand Nationals; Monksfield – who won back-to-back Champion Hurdles in 1978 and 1979; Istabraq – the horse regarded by many as Ireland’s greatest ever hurdler, who won three Champion Hurdles in a row.

It features contributions from Aidan O’Brien, JP McManus, Charlie Swan, Arthur Moore, Ted Walsh, Tom Taaffe, Jim Dreaper, Des McDonogh, Jonjo O’Neill, Sandra Hughes, Paul Carberry and Nina Carberry.

Episode Three airs on March 4 and tells the stories of four horses much loved by Irish racing fans: Limestone Lad – bred, trained and owned by the Bowe family in Gathabawn, Co. Kilkenny; Danoli – regarded as ‘The People’s Champion’ – who was trained by Tom Foley near Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow; Dorans Pride and Beef Or Salmon – two horses who catapulted Limerick trainer Michael Hourigan into the racing limelight.

This episode features contributions from Michael and John Bowe, Tom Foley, Tommy and Jim Treacy, Michael Hourigan, Kay Hourigan, Charlie Swan, Aidan O’Brien and Ted Walsh.

Doran's Pride and Shane Broderick jump the last to win the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham in 1995. Photo: Healy Racing.

Episode Four airs on March 11 and tells the stories of: Florida Pearl – the horse who put trainer Willie Mullins on the map and won a record four Irish Hennessy Gold Cups; Hardy Eustace – who won back-to-back Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham in 2004 & 2005; and Moscow Flyer – trained by Jessica Harrington and ridden by Barry Geraghty – who won numerous Grade One races.

It features contributions from Willie Mullins, Jessica Harrington, Barry Geraghty, Conor O’Dwyer, Davy Russell, David Casey, Sandra Hughes and Eamonn Leigh.

The final episode of ‘Laochra Na Rásaíochta’ is a special Dawn Run documentary featuring contributions from all the major characters in this incredible tale of promise, achievement, disappointment, glory and ultimately tragedy. This airs on March 18 and, like all the other episodes, it will be shown at 9.30pm.

Contributors include the late Paddy Mullins, his wife Maureen, their sons Tony, Tom and Willie Mullins. Owner, the late Charmian Hill, and her son Jeremy Hill also feature, while jockey Jonjo O’Neill gives his unique perspective on one of racing’s most extraordinary tales.

The Dawn Run documentary also features the never-to-be-forgotten 1986 clash between Dawn Run and Buck House at Punchestown, with trainer Mouse Morris and jockey Tommy Carmody providing their memories of that special day.

The ‘Laochra na Rásaíochta’ series was directed by Stephen Cullinane, produced by Denis Kirwan and Dave Keena, and director of photography was Peter Moffett.

Denis Kirwan, Producer, Touchline Media says: “Apart from the incredible achievements of Arkle in the '60s and the huge amount of Irish success in recent decades, there were also many lean years, occasionally brightened by some heroic horses on the biggest stages. ‘Laochra na Rásaíochta’ brings many of these great stories to life.

"Touchline Media is delighted to have been specially commissioned by TG4 to produce this important documentary series, which was filmed and edited over the past few months, despite the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. We are confident that racing fans will enjoy this fast-paced trip down memory lane. Similar to the hugely popular TG4 'Laochra Gael' series, we hope it will be enjoyed by sports fans both young and old.”