Josh and members of the Top Of The Town fan club celebrate a win at Tipperary
©Healy Racing Photos
When I went to Limerick last Sunday to watch my horse, Top Of The Town, run, I didn’t expect to go viral after it, but I’ve people texting me from America, Australia and New Zealand about it and it’s gone a bit mad altogether. And that’s after he lost. If he’d have won you may forget about it! But that’s what it’s all about, having a laugh and the craic.
There’s a couple of lads from the pub involved in him and there’s always great banter when he’s running. Even in the last coupe of weeks there’s been lads, even around my own age, that are interested in getting involved in syndicates or ringing me to go into syndicates with them and that is what it is all about. Bringing a bit of fun back to the game.
My very first bet was Beef Or Salmon in the Gold Cup and I’ve been hooked ever since, although they do often ask at home if the wrong child was brought from the hospital because my family would have no real interest in racing. In fact, my father wouldn't be into drinking much at all and would be against gambling but here I am and I own a pub and a racehorse and I named by first racehorse after the pub!
There was a local man here in Askeaton and he had this horse by Craigsteel and we said sure right we’d take a chance. He was very weak at the start of his career but every year he has just improved since. It was pure chance that I called him after the pub. Because he was so weak, I said I wouldn't bother and for some reason just at the last second filling out the form I said ‘sure go on’ and to have a horse as honest as Top Of The Town is something else. A dream come true really.
Charles Byrnes is only 20 minutes from me and I’ve always loved Charles because I always felt he was a very shrewd trainer and he’s always been very good to me. One or two words would often do with Charles but they’re the one or two you’d want to be listening to!
Even when the horse went to Downpatrick a couple of years ago and won his first race, I thought that was his Derby but Charles always has him spot on and knows him inside out. Even going to Cheltenham last October I thought he’d no chance but he still came up the hill with a chance and ran an absolute cracker for us. We’d some craic over thereâ¦ There was one or two of the lads and they felt it was a better trip than they’d go on with the wife! A group of about 10 of us went over and even to give the roar when we thought he might hold on up the hill was super.
The night he won in Bellewstown last August there was 35 of us went up on the bus from the pub and there was 46 of us went to Tipperary. The minute some lads hear he’s running they are on the phone straight away to get the details and take the day off work. There’s a super build up behind him. He’s caught the imagination of the whole town.
After he ran at Limerick last weekend, and even though he didn’t win, I’d say there must be 70 people queuing already to get on the bus for Galway for when he goes up there.
And I do think racecourses should be welcoming big crowds like that. Roscommon and Bellewstown especially were very good to me when I rang them and told them I had a big crowd coming. Some of the tracks would want to loosen up a bit because we are just trying to get the game going and bring a crowd to enjoy themselves. It all went too serious there for a while. These are the owners of the future potentially. I’m only delighted to advertise the game if I can and get the people back going and the crowds back up.
I might go to Killarney next week myself but for Top Of The Town at the moment it is all systems go for Galway and win, lose or draw we’ll always have the craic anyway.
There’s been four syndicates that have contacted me to go in with them, only in the last two or three weeks, and hopefully we’ll get two or three started up now. The more fella’s involved the less cost of money, and if you get a group of lads around my age, 25 or 26, sure if a horse could only be placed a few times or win an odd race sure they’re not losing out on much money at all and they’re having the craic.
I have fella’s now that never had an interest in racing but they want to go for the day out and days like last Sunday could light a spark in some lad who could be an owner in the future.
There was two women walked into the pub the other night from Texas. They were staying in Killarney but they came up to Askeaton after seeing the video to have a drink here. To leave Killarney and come to Askeaton is something else.
The next dream is to have a horse that might be able to go on and compete at the likes of a Punchestown Festival or a Cheltenham Festival but I’d have to think of a name to advertise the pub now as well!
It’s exciting to be going to Galway with a runner with a squeak but Galway is a different level up again but Davy Russell is one super jockey so to have himself and Charles on your side, such sounds fella’s, is fantastic.
We’re here for a good time, not a long time. Top Of The Town is my first horse but hopefully there’ll be a few more!