Beauty of Bellewstown: four things to know.
As the three-day Bellewstown festival kicks off this evening, Tony O'Hehir provides a pocket guide to the Meath track Blink and it's over ONCE the Irish Derby is done and dusted Bellewstown is never far behind, and today the track on top of the Hill of Crockafotha in County Meath stages the opening session of its three-day July festival.
Bellewstown races for only six days of the year, with the July festival being followed by another three-day fixture of Flat and hurdle racing in August. It's not quite Laytown but if you fancy going bear in mind that opportunities are few and far between.
Think Bellewstown, think coup It was at Bellewstown in 1975 that Barney Curley engineered his famous SP coup with 20-1 shot Yellow Sam, and the 40th anniversary of that monster gamble was commemorated at the track two years ago.
It's probably the one thing above all others that would get a name association game up and running.
Lucky track Harry Rogers has been attending Bellewstown since he was a teenager and enjoys the meeting's unique atmosphere.
Explaining its appeal, he said yesterday: "Bellewstown is different to most other meetings. There's a real holiday buzz to racing there.
People go there for a bit of fun and it's all very relaxed and enjoyable.
"I've always enjoyed going there. I had a few winners there as a jockey and have done better as a trainer. I have three runners and Byron Beauty, who runs in the handicap over a mile and six (7.05) probably has the best chance.
"She's in good form and hopefully she'll cope with her rise in the ratings since her recent win at Ballinrobe."
Happy memories John Nicholson, who trains near Johnstown, County Kilkenny, always enjoys his journeys north to Bellewstown - and with good reason.
He said yesterday: "I love the place. I rode my first winner there in the early 1970s - Truly Merry in a novice chase run with hailstones pelting down. They haven't run chases at Bellewstown for many years, but it's been a very lucky track for me and I've won plenty of races there over the years.
"We've won hurdle races and I've a 100 per cent record with runners on the Flat - three runners and three wins."
Nicholson has one runner today, Ask Susan who goes in the feature, the Seamus Mulvaney Crockafotha Handicap Hurdle.
"She won at Down Royal last time and the horse who finished 19 lengths third in the race has won at Perth since. The two-and-a-half-mile trip will suit and I think she should improve from Down Royal as she hadn't been back in training that long before she went there." ??Bellewstown card starts page 40
Bellewstown: the track races for only six days of the year