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Arkle fundraiser at Bellewstown

Story by Meath Chronicle Sports

Friday, 12th August, 2011 8:01am

Arkle fundraiser at Bellewstown

Members of the Arkle Memorial Statue Project include Sean Lynch (left), Nick O'Toole, Paddy Woods, (Arkle's former work rider), Lynsey Dreaper, Jim Dreaper, PJ Durkan.

Racing legends Charlie Swan, Adrian Maguire and Norman Williamson are among those who have agreed to go head-to-head in a special race at Bellewstown next week on Thursday 18th August.

The "Legends" race is part of a campaign to build a statue to the great Arkle in Ashbourne.

Jockeys competing in the race will include former Cheltenham, Grand National and Aintree winners as well as champion jockeys and local legends.

Others include Conor O Dwyer, Martin Lynch, Adrian Maguire, Joe Byrne, Robbie Hennessy, Jason Titley, Gerry Dowd and Arthur Moore who have all agreed to take part.

Also riding will be Dermot Mc Loughlin whose late father, Liam, was the first jockey to win on Arkle.

Each rider in the race is being asked to collect sponsorship from friends and business contacts in aid of the fundraising for the statue.

"The Turf Club and Horseracing Ireland have been extremely helpful in the organisation of the race which we hope will become an annual highlight of the Bellewstown meeting," said Lynsey Dreaper of the Arkle Memorial Statue Committee.

"This year's race is in aid of the Arkle statue fund and we envisage it becoming a fundraiser for local charities in future years after Arkle and Pat Taaffe have been placed proudly on their plinth in Ashbourne," she added.

The race will be sponsored by Foley's Antiques - they have a collection of Arkle memorabilia, including his saddle, and will be there on the day with their display - visit for more details.

Bright Cherry (the dam of both Arkle and his great rival Mill House) won at Bellewstown before turning to breeding.

In those days, the 1950s, Bright Cherry, would have walked the 15 miles to Bellewstown from Dreaper's yard at Kilsallaghan..

The race is generating great interest and tremendous support from racing personalities and the public.

Lester Piggott will be there on the day, accompanied by Sean Magee who wrote Arkle: The Life and Legacy of Himself.

Bellewstown have put together a special Super Belter package for the occasion which includes transport from certain points and course admission and includes a reserved marquee that will give racegoers a chance to mingle with these racing greats and pick up a few tips on the way.

Tickets are limited so contact for details.

The Littlewoods Ireland Best Dressed Lady competition will also be held on 18th August and there is a ladies race on the card.

The Arkle Memorial Statue Fund committee is comprised of Jim Dreaper (Chairperson); Lynsey Dreaper (Secretary); Paddy Woods (Arkle's former work rider); Pat Byrne (Fairyhouse chairperson); Sean Lynch (former jockey); Jimmy Finlay (Bambury Bookmakers), Colm Finlay (Bambury Bookmakers), Michael King (Treasurer), Paddy Gorman, Breandán Ó Cathasaigh and PJ Durkan.

The Committee organising the project has turned to sculptress Emma McDermott who will be working hard to capture the famous Arkle "pose" in the work.

Arkle was a poser before the term was invented and was renowned for his responses to the crowd's applause as he would romp home to victory.

Emma was born in Dublin and attended St. Martin's College of Art in London. Over her career she has completed a life-size statue of Sadler's Wells for Coolmore Stud, Vintage Crop for Dr Michael Smurfit, Nijinsky for Vincent O Brien and Ridgewood Pearl for Sean Coughlan, and describes Arkle as one of her dream projects.

The statue will also pay tribute to Arkle's owner, Anne, Duchess of Westminster, his trainer Tom Dreaper, jockeys Pat Taaffe, Paddy Woods, Liam McLoughlin, TP Burns and Mark Hely-Hutchinson, and all who worked with him, cared for him and raced against him.

The Arkle Memorial Statue Committee is now working on the fundraising activities necessary to support the successful completion of the project.

This statue will be erected in the main street of Ashbourne, being very local to where he was born, bred and trained where it will become an attraction for both residents and visitors and will constitute an important symbol of the great history of the area and of one of Ireland's greatest sporting legacies.

Further information: Sean Lynch, PRO 087 2547688; Lynsey Dreaper, Secretary 087 1504022

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