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Ireland Trip 2007 by Raynor Peters

On Friday 23rd February 2007 51 members, horse owners, trainers and harden followers of Wales & Border Counties Racing Association set sail for Ireland on another action packed weekend of racing. The weather was again in our favour as the smooth crossing brought us back to the Emerald Isle, we travelled direct south to the sleepy town of Cobh (p. Cove) to be greeted at the comfortable Rushbrooke Hotel right on the banks of the River Lee just miles from Cork City.

Saturday morning, with a warm winter sun in the air, the group split up for a days leisure, some going hunting with the local pack, others heading to Cork for shopping and even bell ringing at the ancient church, the fourth tallest in Europe. With Ireland playing Rugby at home that day a lot of people headed for the nearest pub to eat, relax and enjoy the Irish hospitality. At 6.30pm we boarded our coach, which again was professionally driven by Robert, courtesy of Richards Brothers Coaches, and headed through Cork to the fantastic Curraheen Park Greyhound track. A four course meal with track side seats awaited us and surely didn't disapoint. The meal was one of the best you could eat, the service quick and efficient and the table side betting just made the racing even more enjoyable. Anyone who hasn't been Greyhound Racing before was converted on the spot, a little smaller than our own horses, but definitely as much fun to watch, I know we had winners amongst us if the shouting was anything to go by. A live Irish band performed at the end of the evening for a chance to have a dance or jig, what a great place to spend your Saturday night.

Sunday morning, rising not too early after the previous nights partying, and another beautiful meal was served at Rushbrooke. We then set off to Bandon Races where the IRHC were holding their annual Old Chapel meet. A long straight road packed with locals and fans alike warmed the chilly air as the horses got ready to race. Nice to see some of the Welsh Breeders having success on the day. The racing was great fun, although I'm not sure how many WBCRA owners would like to race on the road back home, the IRHC put on a very entertaining afternoon with a superb atmosphere and great prize money too. The winter months can drag on but the Irish really know how to make them pass with fun. The Landlord & Landlady of the local pub welcomed us for a drink and a dance afterwards and what a time we had. The day was over far too quickly but back in Cobh the party carried on well into Monday morning.

Monday am, after settling our bar tabs!, we set off for the Irish National Stud in Co. Kildare. This was worth the drive as the stud was superb. Their facilities were second to none. The complimentary tour took us around the main areas where we got to see young stock, mares and day old foals, mares being delivered to the stallion and a close encounter with some of their resident stallions that were demanding upto 35k each time. Our guide was very informative, he was forgiven for not realising we were seasoned horse owners whilst explaining every little thing re:horse ownership, he knew every detail about the stud.

Sadly we boarded our ferry back to Fishguard for another calm crossing and bid farewell to each other until we meet again when our racing season starts in April.

Next year I am planning a trip to Paris to visit the Prix d'Amerique. If you are interested, please get in touch either at the races or email me at boomerangwear@fsmail.net

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