Shane ready for all hurdles

The newly-elected chairperson of Roscommon Race Committee, Shane Fleming, has pledged to concentrate his energy on successfully overseeing the existing €2m development of the racecourse at Lenabane.      Speaking to the Roscommon People following his election to the position at last week’s AGM of Roscommon Race Committee, Mr. Fleming promised to work hard during his term of office to ensure that the ambitious plans will come to fruition, and expressed hope that development work will begin in the new year.    Shane inherits the position from Dick O’Brien, Athlone, whose three-year term came to an end earlier this autumn. A resident of Ballinagard, he is at the helm of the impressive Fleming’s SuperValu supermarket on Main Street.    The new chairperson is highly regarded in racing circles in the Irish midlands and has marinated in Irish horse racing since his early youth. Owner of several racehorses, Shane Fleming worked in the equine industry for several years before returning home to the family business. His aunt Elizabeth Fleming, Lanesboro, nurtured Shane’s interest in horses during his childhood.   ‘I’m involved with horses since I was seven or eight. My aunt in Lanesboro, Elizabeth, had a few horses and that’s how I got started. When I left school I worked in the racing trade for a while. I worked for the trainer Tommy Stack from outside Tipperary town for several years. When I came back to town in the mid 1990s I was approached by the Racecourse Committee to see if I was interested in becoming involved and I’ve been an active member since then. I was vice-chairperson to Dick O’Brien for three years.’   Shane’s interest in the industry extends to ownership of horses.  He and his father Liam are the proud joint-owners of Tremane Dawn.    ‘I own a few horses alright: between myself and my father we’ve six or seven horses. Tremane Dawn is probably the best known of them: she’s a nice mare and she won four point-to-point competitions last year. She was injured for most of the year this year but she’s a good horse,’ he said. The highly-regarded Mullingar trainers Ciarán Murphy and Dot Love train the Flemings’ horses.   The new developments that Shane and other members of the committee hope to guide were unveiled to the public last June. A new weigh room, new entrance, new turnstiles, new offices, a new pressroom, new bathrooms, and new jockeys’ changing rooms will be constructed over the course of the next 12 months. The developments are expected to cost between €1.6 million and €2 million and will help to establish Roscommon as one of the leading racecourses in the country.   ‘I was elected as chairperson of the Race Committee at the AGM last week and my job will be to help the rest of the committee to guide the existing plans for redevelopment. The drawings for the plans are well in progress: they’ve been lodged to Roscommon County Council and are at the pre-planning stage. We’re confident that we’ll get through the planning stage and we hope that building will begin next year.’   Shane explained that he and his colleagues had hoped that development would begin after last this week’s meeting, but that construction was delayed.   ‘We had hoped that Monday’s meeting would represent a milestone for us and that we’d be able to start developing straight away in October ’07 but that hasn’t happened. We are nevertheless a long way down the road regarding plans and we expect to start something next year,’ said Mr. Fleming.   Shane told the Roscommon People that adversarial weather conditions prevented Roscommon Racecourse from performing exceptionally successfully this year but stressed that 2007 has nonetheless been ‘a good year’ for the racecourse.   ‘We have had a good season this year. Unfortunately it probably was not as good as last year or the previous year but we’re still happy enough with how things have worked out. 2005 was an exceptional year and last year was good but this year the weather came against us at several meetings. It was still a good year though and we have made progress’.