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New film on chasing the Irish Grand National dream is a winner alright

 

By Robert Jones

An RTE documentary entitled 'The Irish Grand National - Chasing a Dream' is being billed as a unique chronicle capturing the essence of the famous race and telling the story of one of Ireland's greatest sporting traditions since 1870.

The programme - at 6.30pm on Easter Monday, just after the €275,000 Fairyhouse spectacular that afternoon - tells how the event came into being when two men challenged each other to a race in 1752 - for a hogshead of wine - between the Church Steeples of the towns of Buttevant and Doneraile, in Cork, hence the name steeplechasing.

The fast moving feature length documentary packed with never seen before archive footage and images, relates the fascinating history of this great race, contextualising it with relevant transformative events in Irish history. Known as the 'people's race', its strong emotional stories will capture the hearts of all viewers, not just the horse racing fans.

Revealing and intimate accounts come from those most associated with this iconic race, including members of the generations of racing families who helped to make it famous, such as the Carberrys, Dreapers, Hughes, Moores, Mullins, Taaffes, Walshs and Woods.

Other contributors including David Elsworth, Jenny Pitman, Mouse Morris and Richard Dunwoody tell their own intriguing stories of their participation in the Irish Grand National.

Expert insight comes from commentator Dessie Scahill, Guy Williams, senior national hunt handicapper Noel O'Brien, Robert Hall and Ted Walsh.

It features racehorses that have taken their place in folklore such as Desert Orchid, who had movie star status and was stabled in a secret location before the race, the great Arkle - who won in 1964 - and Brown Lad, the king of Fairyhouse.

Part of the allure of the event is that ordinary racehorses can win it, such as 50-1 shot Liberty Counsel who triumphed in 2013.

Belfast Telegraph

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