TG4 and Touchline Media have announced that a new horseracing series ‘Laochra Na Rásaíochta’, featuring some of Ireland’s greatest National Hunt horses, has been specially commissioned by TG4 and will commence on Thursday 18 February with a one-hour documentary on the tale of the legendary Arkle, winner of three Cheltenham Gold Cups in the 1960’s. This is a repeat of the IFTA winner for Best Sports Documentary, first broadcast on TG4 in March 2014.
Episode Two of ‘Laochra Na Rásaíochta’ airs on 25 February at 9.30pm and tells the stories of L’Escargot – winner of the 1970 and 1971 Gold Cups and the 1975 Grand National, Captain Christy – winner of the 1974 Gold Cup, Brown Lad – the only horse ever to win three Irish Grand Nationals, Monksfield – who won back-to-back Champion Hurdles in 1978 and 1979 and Istabraq – the horse regarded by many as Ireland’s greatest ever hurdler, who won three Champion Hurdles in a row. It features contributions from Aidan O’Brien, JP McManus, Charlie Swan, Arthur Moore, Ted Walsh, Tom Taaffe, Jim Dreaper, Des McDonogh, Jonjo O’Neill, Sandra Hughes, Paul Carberry and Nina Carberry.
Episode Three airs on 4 March at 9.30pm and tells the stories of four horses much loved by Irish racing fans, Limestone Lad – bred, trained and owned by the Bowe family in Gathabawn, County Kilkenny. Danoli– regarded as ‘The People’s Champion’ – who was trained by Tom Foley near Bagnelstown in County Carlow and Dorans Pride and Beef Or Salmon – two horses who catapulted Limerick trainer Michael Hourigan into the racing limelight. It features contributions from Michael and John Bowe, Tom Foley, Tommy and Jim Treacy, Michael Hourigan, Kay Hourigan, Charlie Swan, Aidan O’Brien and Ted Walsh.
In Episode Four, of which airs on 11 March, tells the stories of Florida Pearl – the horse who put trainer Willie Mullins on the map and won a record four Irish Hennessy Gold Cups, Hardy Eustace – who won back-to-back Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham in 2004 & 2005, during a golden era for Irish hurdlers, and Moscow Flyer – trained by Jessica Harrington and ridden by Barry Geraghty – who won numerous Grade One races, including two Queen Mother Champion Chases at the Cheltenham Festival. It features contributions from Willie Mullins, Jessica Harrington, Barry Geraghty, Conor O’Dwyer, Davy Russell, David Casey, Sandra Hughes and Eamonn Leigh.
The final episode (episode five) of ‘Laochra Na Rásaíochta’ is a special Dawn Run documentary featuring contributions from all the major characters in this incredible tale of promise, achievement, disappointment, glory and ultimately tragedy. This airs on 18 March at 9.30pm. Contributors include the late Paddy Mullins, his wife Maureen, their sons Tony, Tom and Willie Mullins. Owner, the late Charmian Hill, and her son Jeremy Hill also feature, while jockey Jonjo O’Neill gives his unique perspective on one of racing’s most extraordinary tales. The Dawn Run documentary also features the never-to-be-forgotten 1986 match between Dawn Run and Buck House at Punchestown, with trainer Mouse Morris and jockey Tommy Carmody providing us with their memories of that special day.
The ‘Laochra na Rásaíochta’ series is directed by Stephen Cullinane, produced by Denis Kirwan and Dave Keena, and director of photography is Peter Moffett.
Denis Kirwan, Producer, Touchline Media says, “Apart from the incredible achievements of Arkle in the 60’s and the huge amount of Irish success in recent decades, there were also many lean years, occasionally brightened by some heroic horses on the biggest stages. ‘Laochra na Rásaíochta’ brings many of these great stories to life. Touchline Media is delighted to have been specially commissioned by TG4 to produce this important documentary series, which was filmed and edited over the past few months, despite the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. We are confident that racing fans will enjoy this fast-paced trip down memory lane. Similar to the hugely popular TG4 “Laochra Gael” series, we hope it will be enjoyed by sports fans both young and old.”
Touchline Media has a successful track record in producing racing documentaries; ‘Arkle – The Legend Lives On’, was the winner of the 2015 IFTA Sports Programme of the Year and also winner of the same category at the 2015 Celtic Media Awards. The same team also produced the IFTA-nominated sports documentary ‘Jump Boys’ in 2012 and the critically acclaimed ‘Jump Girls’ in February 2019. Touchline Media have also produced a four-part series on the Galway Races, ‘Seachtain na Rásaí’,and have produced Cheltenham and Punchestown Festival preview progammes for well over the past decade.