Final Call for Thomas in Dingle Race: ‘I think it’s time to move on. I have enjoyed it.’

Thomas O’Callaghan will call runners and riders home for the final time at next week’s Dingle Race after more than 20 years with Mike.

That Dingle native and popular race commentator – known as ‘Dingle Tom’ among Ireland’s horse and pony racing clan – has decided to step aside.

“I’m from Dingle and it’s hard to explain what race means to us. It’s something very special,” Thomas said.

“There comes a time when one has to step away from it. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I recently retired from work, and I just want to take a step back. I’ll still be ready to help, but as far as calling them home is concerned, I think it’s time to move on. I’ve enjoyed it.”

Thomas Dingle has been associated with Race for over 35 years in a variety of roles. He has a passion for horses, even though he says he comes from a family that has little or no interest in horses.

Early influences include the former John Street neighbour, the late Peder Karan. Pedar was a horse trader and was widely known among horse enthusiasts. It was Pieder who ignited the horse’s fascination for Thomas.

The notions of becoming a jockey were also entertained for some time, but were strongly disapproved of by his mother.

This only served to direct his interest elsewhere within the sport, and in the 1980s he was appointed to the Dingle Race Committee.

Thomas has held various positions since then, but his move to racing commentary began in County Donegal – a place where he kept horses while competing in the horse and pony racing circuit.

“When I moved to Donegal, I was involved in the pony racing circuit there for many years. I was asked to comment on a race one day, which I did. That was it,” he said.

“I was doing all the on-course announcements at Dingle before doing the commentary. Cork-based Jerry Kelleher used to do race commentary at the time. He had a wedding on the Saturday of a year’s festival when he asked me to do the same. He was over 20 years old now. ,

It’s all about preparation at this time of year for Thomas. Local printers send Thomas a list of runners as entries close. He studies the race cards, imagining what the field will look like when race day arrives.

“I do not know all such horses; I am only concerned with the colors of the jockeys,” he said.

“Take Dylan O’Connor” [jockey]Her silky colors are royal blue with white stars, back and front. Tubbs McNally is all blue with stars on its sleeve. The back and front of Tommy Hyland are orange with green chevrons. This is how I would imagine it. You can prepare only knowing that you don’t know what to do, if it makes sense. ,

Dingle Race has been in the grip of COVID and insurance problems for the past few years. The countdown to next week, when familiar faces gather again in Ballintagart, resumes with something unique.

“It’s like a revival to get it back, people appreciate it. Watching that track two years ago and seeing that place, where there was no sound around, was a humbling experience. This one for the dingle people. It’s a strange thing,” he explained.

“The Dingle Race has gone through a lot of changes. It’s special to us because it’s our tradition. It has a social aspect, and an economic aspect to it.

“Growing up, the Dingle race was the highlight of our year, and it has passed down generations with each time being assigned to different committees,” he said.

Commenting in Dingle Race sometimes leads to a fusion between work and enthusiasm for Thomas.

It’s not often in racing – at any level – that a commentator gets to call his horse home, after the first post.

One horse that holds a special place in Thomas’s heart is his name, Scothscelta (best of stories). She won in the dingle and finished second in the prestigious Dingle Derby.

“It almost gave me the biggest prize in horse racing: a dingle derby. That’s the race I would love to win the most,” he said.

“When I saw him coming up the hill that day I almost lost my control as I thought I had. He gave Jamie Spencer his second winner when he debuted in pony racing. He got all the distance in the dingle and another in the Derby.

“We have had a lot of horses in the middle years but nothing will ever compare to her, she was a special talent. Another good memory is of a mare I owned Jenny. I called her home when she won at Dingle. Won it half-track,” Thomas said.

Those involved in pony racing across the length and breadth of Ireland recognize its immense value to the racing industry.

An Academy in all names, topflight jockeys such as Brian Cooper, Jack Kennedy, Paul Townend, Adrian Maguire, Barry Geraghty, Nina Carberry, Oisin Murphy and Chris Hayes have all cut their teeth in pony racing.

Dingle Race is known as the Cheltenham of pony racing for good reason. This is far from just another tired racing cliché. Really tops the charts for jockeys who started riding a dingle.

“It’s great to have these jockeys home before they became famous and became household names. They love dingles and never forget it,” said Thomas.

“I was at the Galway Race for a day last week when six of the seven races on the card were won by jockeys who came through the horse and pony racing circuit: Brian Cooper, Chris Hayes, Colin Keane, Gavin Ryan, whose There were two winners, and Wayne Lorden. What’s more, they all ride winners in dingles.

“This underscores the importance of pony racing to the industry. They have never forgotten it. Horse and Pony Racing is a gem as it gives jockeys a grounding and teaches them skills and interactions which gives them a clear advantage , ” explains Thomas.

No mention of pony racing and dingle in the same sentence would be complete without a mention of Jack Kennedy.

Since breaking into the professional ranks, Jack’s success has elevated him to the role of an ambassador for pony racing in all but name.

“Jack, to me, is probably one of the best that has ever come through the pony racing circuit. Jack has telepathy with horses in his hands. Horses run on reins for Jack. He instilled confidence in everything he did. It was easy to see that he was going to go places,” Thomas said.

It is widely accepted that the top tier of the Irish racing industry needs to close with its sacred platitudes where pony racing is concerned, and acknowledge its importance in a meaningful way.

To neglect and disregard its value to Irish racing is to neglect and disregard its future of horse racing.

As Thomas prepares for his swan song next week, he departs with a firm but precise warning for the future of pony racing.

“There has to be a uniformity of approach to pony racing. It has to bring in a better communication system with the media, for example,” he explained.

“If pony racing goes away, it will have a detrimental effect in creating jockeys for the track. Pony racing is noted by everyone in the UK and Ireland. The whole industry should look at this and see how pony racing is going to play the sport. can bring forward.

“Professional jockeys never forget the grounding they got from pony racing. The time has come for it to be recognized in a positive, constructive and beneficial way by the top people of the industry.”