Cheltenham-bound Roscommon race-goers’historic flight delayed

Paul Healy  A host of Roscommon race-goers who were set to embark on a historic first privately chartered flight to Cheltenham Racing Festival had to abandon their plans at the last moment yesterday (Wednesday).    Happily the 131 passengers who were to travel to Cheltenham to cheer on Roscommon-owned Corskeagh Royale have been able to secure a flight for Thursday’s meeting.    The decision to cancel Wednesday’s entire meeting, due to health and safety concerns prompted by weather conditions, led to some chaos for the Roscommon race-goers as they gathered at Knock Airport.    Mr. Padraig Nolan, (right), from Roscommon town, a member of the Queen Maeve Racing Club syndicate which owns Corskeagh Royale, told the Roscommon People that 131 people, most of them from County Roscommon, were to fly over for the race meeting in what was the first case of a flight being privately chartered from Ireland for the Cheltenham Festival.    ‘We were due to fly at 9 am on Wednesday morning but we got word around 8 am that the Races had been called off. The news ran through the airport like wildfire and at first we thought it was a hoax.’    At that point the group’s plane was en route from Birmingham. When Noel Meade, trainer of Corskeagh Royale, confirmed by phone that the horse would run in the rescheduled programme today (Thursday), the flight plans were abandoned and the plane, then in mid-air, returned to the UK.    As we went to press Padraig Nolan confirmed that a new flight had been arranged for Thursday morning (assuming racing goes ahead). He said that while people had been inconvenienced by the events of Wednesday morning it was his understanding that most or all of the would-be passengers were in a position to travel on Thursday.    Corskeagh Royale, a much-fancied horse, is owned by the 35-strong Queen Maeve Racing Club, with people from across the region involved, most notably from the Frenchpark/Ballinagare, Tulsk, Fourmilehouse, Castlebar and Roscommon areas.    ‘What happened on Wednesday put a bit of a damper on things at the time but we are looking forward to flying over on Thursday and coming back that night, victorious!’ quipped Padraig in conclusion.