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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Town topped at Galway but Sheahan and co still smiling

Top Of The Town and Davy Russell wins the Kedrah House Stud 'Well Chosen' Beginners Chase. Tipperary.Photo: Patrick McCann 11.05.2017
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Pre-race interviews often yield standard enough responses to interviewers' questions, but encounters involving the owners of Charles Byrnes' chaser Top Of The Town of late have been the stuff of television gold, resulting in the owners' antics going viral.

Despite finishing well down the field in Friday evening's Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase, a 54-strong team from the pub the horse is named after still brought plenty of colour to proceedings at Ballybrit.

"It's a dream to be here with a runner at Galway and this horse has taken us to places we could only have dreamed of" said Josh Sheahan, owner of both the pub and 130-rated chaser, "the ground went against him massively but it's been unreal to have got this reaction with everything we've done."

The reaction Sheahan speaks of has been quite something. 

Top Of The Town (Davy Russell) jumps during the 3m chase.Limerick.Photo: Patrick McCann 09.07.2017

His parade ring excitement has been discussed on Australian television, wrote about in national newspapers closer to home and has even had American visitors to the pub.

He said: "The demand for selfies is unbelievable. From heading into the Hole In The Wall bar the other night to walking down Shop Street in the city - Galway this week has been like nothing ever before."

Tongue-in-cheek, the outgoing young owner tells his legion of followers: "the attention from the ladies has been phenomenal but I've still shared a bed with my brother for the last two nights in Galway I can assure you!"

Hailing from a non-racing background, in which his father is described as not into drinking and perhaps against gambling, Sheahan is pretty much the opposite - owning a pub and naming his first horse after it. In his company there is never a dull moment.

Winning on chasing debut at Tipperary before their post-race excitement garned plenty of attention on At The Races with Kevin O'Ryan, an enthused Sheahan said:"The celebrations lasted six-and-a-half weeks and [points] this man's wife left him over it - and do you know what he said to me? It was well worth the celebrations."

Sent off 7-4 favourite for his next start, television cameras once again documented the Limerick group's ventures, when the owner declared the son of Craigsteel "an absolute certainty".

However, it wasn't meant to be for Top Of The Town and connections admitted to losing "a rake of money", before encouraging viewers to visit the pub in a bid to recoup their losses.

Galway beckoned next, and even after an underwhelming display in competitive company, Sheahan said: "We love 'Top' and although he hasn't done it today, our story with this horse and the enjoyment he's given so many people couldn't have been more positive.

He concludes: "We've had people who wouldn't really have an interest in racing travel to the races with us and it's brilliant to develop interest in the sport for those sort of people. That's what it's all about."

We've had people who wouldn't really have an interest in racing travel to the races with us and it's brilliant to develop interest in the sport
E.W. Terms
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