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Mr Nice Guy of the West!

The Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR) is featuring Roscommon Racecourse this week, as it prepares for the upcoming meetings on Monday, May 9th  and Monday, May 23rd.

The Nice Guy’s Grade 1 victory in Punchestown last week sparked the idea to catch up with a Mr Nice Guy of the two-legged variety, Michael Finneran, at Roscommon Racecourse.

Living in the nearby village of Athleague, Michael enjoys a short eightmile commute to work each day. For 24 years he has given his all to the management and operations there. He lives, eats and breathes the place, commenting: “I’m here pretty much seven days a week, even in the wintertime, as the sheep graze the racecourse then!”

Michael always had a keen interest in sport, his late father was a diehard GAA man who hurled for Connacht in the 1940s, and although he played both hurling and football at the highest level himself as a young lad, the lure of greyhound and horse racing soon got the better of Michael.

From the age of 15, he started to travel racing more and more with his late uncle; he had caught the bug! During the National Hunt season of 1978/79 he enjoyed great success as an owner with the Jim Bolger-trained mare Hasty Years. She duly obliged on many occasions, usually partnered by John Harty or Declan Gillespie, and she won eight and was placed a dozen times in her 24 starts. She even won Ireland’s then richest three-mile hurdle race at Leopardstown.


To this day, Michael keeps a couple of National Hunt broodmares and absolutely loves the game. Michael was keen to express his gratitude to the industry who always support Roscommon Racecourse, and said: “It means a lot. It makes all the tough days behind the scenes worthwhile when owners, trainers and jockeys from both codes nationwide come here and give positive feedback on the track. We always do our very best at Roscommon, so that really means so much.”

He also had high praise for Jim Ryan ‘Sandy’ Racecourse Services and Lorcan Wyer, his clerk of the course, stating: “Lorcan is top-class and a real pleasure to work with.”

New weigh-room facilities were officially opened in July 2019, and the mission of the board at Roscommon Racecourse is to enhance the industry’s experience at the track. This continues as exciting plans for stabling got the green light recently. Planning permission has been granted for 30 new stables to be built, and it will increase their current allocation of 101 stables and three large boxes to over 130, an ideal number to offer each horse a box for the day at any given race meeting in the future.

Country track

“A track like Roscommon has to walk before we can run. We’re a small country track in the west, but our commitment to improving the facilities here is unwavering. Project by project we’re getting there!” Michael said. Interestingly, Roscommon has the smallest population of any county that has a racecourse and, with the notable absence of major industries, the racecourse is very much dependent on local sponsors to keep the show on the road. “We are so fortunate to be blessed with very loyal local sponsors, some of whom have been supporting Roscommon Racecourse since before my time, and thankfully they’re still with us today.”

To attend and support Michael and the team at Roscommon this season, where there is always an enjoyable atmosphere and good racing, visit to book your tickets, Students and OAPs can buy tickets for €10 and adults are just €15, while discounts are available online today.

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