Day At The Track

Get ready for the Vincent Delaney Memorial in Ireland

05:26 AM 27 Jun 2018 NZST
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Harness racing VDM Trophy, harness racing IB Coyote, harness racing
Packed crowd for the Vincent Delaney Memorial in Ireland
Steve Wolf photo
The Vincent Delaney Memorial Trophy
Nadina Ironia Photo
Dexter Dunn and IB Coyote (on the outside) winning the 2016 Diamond Creek VDM Fillies FInal.
Graham Rees photo

While the first Saturday in August is usually Hambletonian Week at the Meadowlands, perhaps the second biggest harness racing event of the month happens the following weekend, and it's only 3,200 miles away in Dublin, Ireland.

It's the Vincent Delaney Memorial (VDM) weekend of racing at Portmarnock Raceway in Dublin. It's the biggest harness racing weekend of the year in both Ireland and the UK and will take place Friday, August 10 through Sunday, August 12.

The race itself was developed by the Delaney brothers, James and Derek, who first came up with the special race for two-year-old pacers after their younger brother, Vincent, tragically died from a massive heart attack in 2011 at age 27.

"Our brother Vincent loved working with the horse," explained Derek, who with brother James have Oakwood Stud, one of the bigger Standardbred breeding facilities in all of Ireland. "We only saw it fitting to have a special race in his memory. Little did we know back then that this race weekend would become a world-wide event."

The Vincent Delaney Memorial weekend has been hailed as a miniature Little Brown Jug and Gold Cup and Saucer all rolled into one. People from all over the world now travel annually to Dublin to attend the weekend festival and the races.

"It is just amazing how this race has grown in popularity over the last few years," Derek Delaney said. "Now we have world class sponsors from the USA, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand involved in the races and they all come over after the Hambletonian for our big weekend."

And the race itself has grown by leaps and bounds.

The VDM is perhaps the most grueling test for two-year-old pacers in harness racing. It requires these young horses to first race in elimination heats on Saturday with the top finishers returning the very next day (Sunday) to compete in the finals.

And every year there are so many young horses entered that most of the race card on Saturday are elimination heats. There are also special stakes for three-year-old's, Le Trot events, and stakes for older horses too over the weekend.

Hanover Shoe Farms in the USA is the main sponsor of the colt division of the VDM and the filly division is sponsored by the USA's Diamond Creek Farm. A new sponsor for 2018 is Tara Hills Stud (David Heffering) in Canada.

What is also impressive is the "guest list" of who is coming to Dublin for the VDM.

"I know I will forget someone," laughed Derek Delaney. "This year we have some well-known people in the harness racing industry coming over for the Vincent Delaney. The list includes Jim Simpson from Hanover Shoe Farm along with Murray Brown and his wife Carol, Heather and Mike Wilder, and Mike will also be driving that weekend.

"Also coming are Tom Charters and his wife Sue, Dr. Courtney Pink from Diamond Creek Farm, Australia's and UK's Bill Hutchison, Sweden and Germany's Klaus Koch,," Derek went on. "Our regulars Roger Huston, Heather Vitale (wouldn't the VDM without her running about), Dale Welk, John McDermott, Jeff Kuhen and more. I am getting emails, texts and calls almost daily."

The VDM weekend kicks off on Friday night with a dinner and in the special VIP Tent at the races there will be a great auction for charity. Already donated are a helmet, gloves and colors from Yannick Gingras and a set of Doug McNair's colors.

If you ever really want to renew your passion for harness racing, then contact Derek or James Delaney at Oakwood Stud and they will send you all the details. It's a guaranteed must on everyone's bucket list.

Check out www.vincentdelaneymemorial.com or www.oakwoodstud.ie for more information and to contact Derek and James Delaney.

By Steve Wolf, for the Vincent Delaney Memorial

 

 
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