The Shelmalier Maiden Hurdle Table Quiz Race over ten rounds.
Competitors began gathering in the Curracloe Tavern parade ring by 9pm on Thursday evening last for the eagerly awaited third meeting of this important race.
There was much talk at the bar on the eventual lineout of the competing teams and there were equal amounts of both determination and nervousness evident as they made their way to their table for the start. Race starter Michael Walsh had great difficulty in getting all the competitors to the starting line on time, with many making a quick rush from the bar or ringing their trainer in order to finalise their lineout. There was much pushing and jockeying for tables at the start line and starter Michael had to call on the course stewards Aidan, Myles, Anne, Aine and Paudie to restore order. Before raising the white flag he warned all competitors that they would be immediately disqualified if he witnessed any crossing of paths on their way to the bar, exchanging inside information or giving misleading information to other competitors, he also warned against foul play such as kicking under tables or seeking the answers for any of his course stewards. I am proud to report that no competitor was disqualified on the night, but there was evidence to suggest that many of these rules were broken. Paudie was tempted on many occasions with free pints at the bar to reveal the answers, but he resisted such advances in the name of the Shelmalier Coiste na nOg. As the competitors headed for the third round the Hearne partners (Ian & Austin & better halves) took an early lead, but having taking a heavy knock at the fourth they faded in the preceding pack. There were many leaders in the middle part of the race including the Parker boys, Murt at the bar, teacher John, (under the probing eyes of some of his students), Quizmaster Micheal’s ladies, late arrival Seamie Harding & gang, young Cash & Donohue’s, the ladies at the door, Pax, Eddie Doyle and the boys, young Forde’s, Staples and friends to mention but a few potential leaders. As many of these competitors rejoiced with a clear ten out of ten, it was quickly followed with a disappointing seven out of ten at the next fence. The tension was a fever pitch as the competitors rounded the final turn for the three final fences in the straight in front of the main stand with the well drilled team of Angela and the Castlebridge bunch leading the field, closely followed by the Tobin’s (Paul, Deirdre and Conor) together with Oscar winning actress Patrica Doyle, in joint third place Brian Kirwan and Kavanagh bros, team going neck and neck with Noel’s (Feeney) Kilkenny lead team who led at one stage, but were now showing the loss of regular jockey Brian (Galvin). Noel did state to journalist afterwards that he would be more optimistic in the next race when he will definitely have main jockey Brian back on side. As the runners cleared the second last round the Tobin’s gained some valuable marks on Angela’s gang and all eyes was on the score board as chief stewards Aidan and Paudie closely studied very closely the photo finish image. As he raised blue marker to declare the winner, there was great rejoicing in Glasganny and Ballyboggan as Angela and Co. were declared the winners by the narrowest of margins. Chief steward Aidan thanked all the competitors in the winner’s enclosure with all prize winners generously donating their winnings back to Coiste na nOg.