Cheltenham Prevew Night boosts Youth Centre project

The second annual Roscommon Lions Club Cheltenham Preview Night – held on Monday night in the Royal Hotel, Roscommon – was a successful follow-up to last year’s phenomenally popular ‘debut.’   An estimated 600 racing enthusiasts braved inclement weather conditions to hear the views of expert panellists at an event which was sponsored by Dermot Hughes of Dermot Hughes Toyota Car Sales. Mr. Hughes and his wife Nuala were special guests on the night.   Amongst those in attendance were Government Junior Minister Tom Parlon – who provided a site for the Lions Club’s Youth Centre project – and fellow politicians Deputies Michael Finneran and Denis Naughten and Senator Frank Feighan.   Also present were a host of well-known figures from the worlds of sport, business and industry.   The proceeds of the gala event go directly towards Roscommon Lions Club’s two major   projects – the provision of a Youth Centre in Roscommon town and an ongoing suicide awareness campaign.   Panel members on the night were renowned trainer Dessie Hughes, jockey Ross Geraghty, Senior handicapper Noel O’Brien, popular trainer Tony Martin and John Kennelly of Bruce Bookmakers. The chairperson was knowledgeable racing journalist Donn McClean.    Half-way through the Preview a raffle took place for a major prize which was sponsored by Leo Cox of EDA Cox Construction. On offer was a half-share in a filly by Red Back out of a mare called Ruby Star. The raffle winner was Ballaghadereen businessman Noel Regan.   Later in the night well-known local auctioneer John Earley enthusiastically auctioned three major items and also conducted a second raffle. The first two auction items were two sets of four Corporate tickets for Cheltenham 2007 which were kindly sponsored by Sean Mulryan of Ballymore Properties. Both sets of four fetched €1200.   Meanwhile a greyhound pup kindly provided by Des Whyte of Sierra Communications renown – the pup is currently kept at Oran Kennels – also went for auction. This promising greyhound fetched €4,600 and that part of the night had the audience rivetted as the bidding ebbed and flowed.   At the commencement of the preview the huge attendance was welcomed by Mr. Ciaran Mullooly, chairperson of the Lions Club’s Cheltenham Preview Committee.   Also addressing the attendance was Mr. John F. Hanley, President of Roscommon Lions Club. Mr. Hanley thanked the panel members for being present and acknowledged the great support the organisers had received from sponsors, advertisers and the general public.    The panel discussion itself was relatively low-key but undoubtedly of great interest to keen Cheltenham-watchers. There was little agreement on which horses might shine on the renowned festival, with several horses in each race getting a mention – leaving amateur punters like this writer little the wiser!   Nonetheless some words of potential wisdom were noted.   Faasel in the Arkle Chase was fairly enthusiastically tipped by one panellist while Hardy Eustace was given every chance of worrying Detriot City in the Champion Hurdle. Ross Geraghty effectively suggested that Aran Concerto cannot lose the Ballymore Properties Novice Hurdle; others disagreed. Catch Me, for example, was a real fancy of the man from Bruce Betting. Geraghty liked Well Chief’s chances in the Champion Chase but others rated Newmill, Voy Pour Ustedes and Nickname.   Denman was perhaps the one horse there was strong support for (Sun Alliance Novice Chase) although Lounaos (Triumph Hurdle) attracted much top table support too. Mad Fish and Fiveforthree were rated in the Champion Bumper with Tony Martin going for a longer shot in Theatrical Moment. Monet’s Garden was highly-rated (Ryanair Chase) but Justified was not ruled out. In the Ladbrokes World Hurdle there was support for Inglis Drever and Celestial Wave (take your pick, even if Black Jack Ketchum is favourite – I guess the panellists were pointing towards value bets). Mountain was given every chance of thwarting Lounaos by at least one speaker and there were some good vibes for Liberate too. All agreed that Kauto Star will take beating in the Gold Cup but there were mentions for Exotic Dancer, The Listener and a heart-felt claim by Noel O’Brien that Beef Or Salmon may have a last hurrah.   When pressed for bankers the panel choices included: Lounaos, Denman, Well Chief, Catch Me and Snowy Morning.   Roscommon Lions Club members expressed satisfaction with a very well-supported and successful event. Details of proceeds raised will be published in the coming weeks.