Quinnys Shoulder, Frankie Sheahans moonlighting and Aussie Mares

Plus Willie Mullins already eyeing the 2018 Melbourne Cup

BY Paul Collins 08:29 Friday 22 December 2017, 8:29 22 Dec 2017

Rekindling winning the 2018 Emirates Melbourne Cup

Are you someone who does bucketlists? If you enjoy your live sports events, banter, socialising and general craicola, attending Australia's 'Race That Stops A Nation' has to be on the list of things you do before you..er...can't.

It's that time of year again when we are all thinking about new year resolutions, cutting down on the number of takeaway meals and things to do in 2018.

While The Two Johnnies maintain, 'The Boom Is Back', the prospect of a trip to the southern hemisphere might yet be outside the household budget for many next year but it is definitely something worth saving for.

The city of Melbourne is in the news again following a car smash which has left several in hospital after the incident at Flinders street railway station, a landmark that will be familiar to many visitors.

However if we are to curb our future plans by what MIGHT happen we would never step outside the front door.

With so many Irish Down Under it is probably no major surprise that the country's best horses, trainers and jockeys ended up joining the Aussie influx, and what a finish in this year's staging of the world's richest two-mile handicap!

An Irish 1,2,3 as Rekindling trained in Piltown, County Kilkenny by young Joseph O'Brien won the Melbourne Cup dramatically beating his father Aidan's Johannes Vermeer, schooled in Ballydoyle, County Tipp into second.

Max Dynamite saddled by Willie Mullins in third at Flemington last month. It's been an incredible year for the O'Brien clan and if I was giving awards out the bould Aidan would be getting the top accolade right now. Despite his world record he is still as modest as ever and reckons (publicly anyway) there will be no christmas dinner family table needling over that result down under. Neither is Aidan thinking about trying to repeat his record breaking year next season.

Whichever one of the three from the Emerald Isle you were backing heading into the 2018 Melbourne Cup final stretch, the heart rate would have been off the charts.

I bumped into the bould Willie Mullins at the Phillips Lighting Sports Manager of the Year awards at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin (Someone has to go to these things) and he issued a kind invite to myself and Today FM's morning man Ian Dempsey to ride out at his yard on Christmas morning as his tradition.

This immiediately conjured up an image of the Dempsey lad aboard Faugheen The Machine, something that had photoshop written all over it. So here it is! Who needs Ruby Walsh or Paul Townend?

However I advised Wille that he might be better off providing me with one of those Clydesdale draught horses used to pulling the Budweiser float through the snow.

Despite coming up short this year in Oz, as Willie put it 'beaten by 2 fellas from up the road', another tilt next November is still on his radar.

'We hope to have horse good enough to head down again' says Willie with Thomas Hobson, at the moment looking likely to go again and a decision on that to be made during the summer.

Despite being squeezed out by the O'Brien clan last month, up to 6 contenders from his yard that could yet be potential Melbourne Cup horses, on a trail opened up by Dermot Weld.

As children the world over prepare to open their presents this Christmas morning, Willie will be maintaining another tradition.

Speaking of the Melbourne Cup, as Today FM heads for it's 20 year anniversary I am reminded of my first time attending the classic race, in one of arguably the greatest ever sporting weeks for either Irish fans or journalists.

Consider this. Friday Ireland face Australia in International Rules Series in Melbourne. Saturday Ireland face Australia in the 2003 Rugby World Cup and on Tuesday you have the Melbourne Cup. What a week.

One of the best sporting weeks of a lifetime?

Myself and Oz room mate, All Ireland winning Wexford senior hurling goalkeeper Damien Fitzhenry certainly thought so.

The Irish party's trip to the race that year got a mention in Ronan O Garas autobiography as rugby and GAA lads mixed freely in Flemington.

ROG noted the jaunt due to the fact that it was a bit of social therapy for his fellow Munster man Alan Quinlan who ended up putting his body on the line and having his world cup campaign ended over a shoulder injury he sustained in bagging a try against Argentina.

Little did I expect that a decade and a half later I would end up seeing Quinnys mug (literally and metaphorically) at dawn in Marconi House on partner radio stations.

On hearing of his upcoming inclusion here the Limerick Junction man implored me to give him a good mention and include a few of his best snaps.

I think these would grace any global caption competition.

Insert your own captions here.

I noted that ROG didn't mention that Frankie Sheahan ended up moonlighting as a Today FM sports reporter at the racecourse using the branded microphone to conduct 'interviews' that strangely never made it to air, but thats the code of the dressing room for you.

None of us realised that we were witnessing such an historic horse in action as the 2003 winner Makybe Diva.

The Australian-trained thoroughbred became the first horse to win the Melbourne Cup on three occasions (2003, 2004, and 2005).

Melbourne is also set up so well for all sports you can train from the city centre to the course and back in no time. Herself will love it too.


The Crown complex and Irish pub PJ O Briens on the banks of the Yarra river are key pitstops on the way home.

You would have met a few lads from these parts had you taken that route this year.


Keep buying the lotto tickets.

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