Winning Racehorse Celebrates at the Pub

Meanwhile in Ireland: A trainer celebrates his first- and second-ever wins with a trip to the pub, and brings his horse with him.


Charle Brune is a pretty special horse for his trainer, Tom Shanahan. Last week, 53-year-old Shanahan got his first-ever win at Wexford Racecourse in the 2m handicap hurdles with Charle Brune. The very next day, Charle Brune raced and won again in the 2m handicap hurdles at Tipperary Racecourse. Not only did Shanahan’s non-winning streak of more than 30 years as a trainer end, but he won twice in just over 24 hours. To celebrate, Shanahan took the 6-year-old Charle Brune to a favorite local pub, appropriately called The Horse and Hound.

“Sure it’s a once in a lifetime thing for me,” said Shanahan, according to an article in Racing Post. “I was on my way home from Tipperary and I told Maggie Ryan in the Horse and Hound pub in Dualla that I was coming in for a few pints and that I wouldn’t be on my own. I told her the horse was coming in with me and that I wasn’t taking no for an answer!”

A trip to the pub may not have been the horse’s first choice of ways to celebrate, but he played along.

“There was a tiled floor in the pub and it was tricky getting him in through the doors but the horse trusts me inside out,” said Shanahan. “I could start up a chainsaw beside him and he wouldn’t budge, he has complete trust in me. We had some craic, it was mighty!”

But this story of the underdog trainer and his longshot racehorse doesn’t quite have the Disney ending you might hope for, despite Shanahan referring to his training operation as a “Mickey Mouse setup.” Shanahan will return to his day job at the drain cleaning business that he runs. And Charle Brune will ultimately be racing for a new trainer and owner–he’s set to be sold in the next couple of weeks.

“I’m going to miss him something shocking but I don’t have loads of money so he’ll have to move on,” said Shanahan. “He’ll be some horse for whoever buys him. I could see him coming up the hill at Galway on his own. Now that his head is right, he could be anything.”

Hurdles is a type of jumps racing done in Ireland and other parts of Europe. It is similar to steeplechase but hurdles are flexible brush jumps, usually 3 1/2 feet high. Comparatively, steeplechase jumps can be much larger and include other elements like ditches and water.

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Leslie Potter is a graduate of William Woods University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Science with a concentration in saddle seat riding and a minor in Journalism/Mass Communications. She is currently a writer and photographer in Lexington, Ky.Potter worked as a barn manager and riding instructor and was a freelance reporter and photographer for the Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar and Saddle Horse Report before moving to Lexington to join Horse Illustrated as Web Editor from 2008 to 2019. Her current equestrian pursuits include being a grown-up lesson kid at an eventing barn and trail riding with her senior Morgan gelding, Snoopy.


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