Eggo Bleu ticks all the boxes for pernickety Vinny
Clontarf’s finest strolls the beach at Curracloe tasked with an onerous responsibility for the Hole In The Trousers Synicate
Unlike Gwen Cadwalder, lead soprano in the Clontarf Choristers who had a remarkable return from her numerous interests in draws, raffles, Lotto and prize bonds, Vinny Fitzpatrick’s record in such games of chance was poor.
Yet, against the odds, his number had come up when The Hole In The Trousers Syndicate decided which of their dirty dozen should have the privilege, for that’s what it was, of choosing the colours and naming the juvenile charger currently kicking lumps out of box 13 in Mixer Mulrennan’s stables.
The method selected involved the turn of a card in Foley’s pub where Dial-A-Smile acted as impartial observer, and dealer.
It was agreed that in the event of a tie, spades would have preference over hearts, diamonds and clubs and Vinny’s ace of spades left no room for error – the responsibility of silks and naming rights rested on his roundy shoulders.
He had invited suggestions from the syndicate regarding ground rules but quickly regretted it.
The Reverend insisted the horse’s sire, Distaff, and dam, Lady Gray, should be represented in the name; Charlie Vernon felt there had to be a Clontarf connection as in “Bwian Bowoo Boy”, while Two-Mile Boris thought a link to Foley’s was appropriate. ‘What about Last Orders?’ he suggested.
As a Man Utd nut, Brennie wanted red colours, Fran opted for a nationalist green while Macker reminded Vinny of his long attachment to the red and white garb of Dollymount Gaels.
Vinny promised the lads he’d come back to them with an answer after a weekend which took him south to Wexford on Saturday evening with his wife, step-daughter and twins.
As Angie opened up the mobile in Curracloe, and the twins, now 3½, explored its nooks and crannies, Vinny ambled off to the strand for some contemplation.
His spirits were high as he’d just heard of the Dublin hurlers’ unexpected heroics against Kilkenny.
As low waves lightly lapped the shore of the long silvery beach, Vinny struck out boldly in the direction of Rosslare.
Like the naming of his kids, this equestrian engagement demanded his full attention.
Where to start?
He considered the suggestions of his friends; and discarded them.
For starters, Vinny decided he’d like a name consisting of a forename and surname, involving three syllables. He disliked horses of one-syllable and more than four. He didn’t know why, he just did.
As a patriot with a blood-line to the Irish Republican Brotherhood – his late grandfather Jem had fought in the South Union in the 1916 Rising – Vinny chewed over a name ‘as Gaeilge’.
Jim Bolger, that peerless trainer and Wexford native, once had a run of Irish-named horses, which, if Vinny recalled, had caused racecourse announcers across the Irish Sea to stumble and lose their footing.
Then again, they weren’t in dependable Des Scahill’s league.
But Vinny felt it was best if the name selected tripped easily off the tongue. Reluctantly, the Irish card would not be played.
As he approached the far end of the spit, Vinny thought of the sand underfoot. It was here that the movie, Saving Private Ryan was shot by Steven Spielberg as he recreated the Normandy landings of 1944. The beaches were codenamed, Gold, Sword, Juno, Omaha and Utah – fine candidates for a name but lacking the second word and extra syllable Vinny sought.
The blue-bloods at Coolmore trained by Aidan O’Brien didn’t just look good, they sounded good – Galileo, Giants Causeway, Rock Of Gibraltar, Fame And Glory, Camelot, Yeats and George Washington among them.
Facing north on his return journey, Vinny scrunched up his chubby cheeks, his grey cells worked overtime.
He considered his boyhood heroes, Heffo, Jimmy (Keaveney), Himself (Christy O’Connor), Seve, Jackie (Jameson) and Sheeds (Kevin Sheedy), among them.
Heffo’s Heroes was a possible runner, Wristy Christy another, as was Shaking Sheeds. Vinny felt his choice had to mirror his influences, his roots in Clontarf and yet also possess a modern aspect.
As he made for the caravan park, it was like a bolt of lightning struck him. He had suddenly thought of a name which ticked the stable door number 13 in Mixer’s yard in Naul, north Dublin.
The name signalled his passion for the club closest to his heart, Everton; had a catchy two-word, three-syllable, ring to it, had a subtle connection to the sire, Distaff, and would not confuse punters or commentator.
Suitably, it also carried a Gallic whiff, which was so common these days, especially in the all-powerful yard of Willie Mullins.
As far as Vinny’s old man, Finbarr Fitzpatrick, was concerned, there had been no finer left-winger in Irish football than Tommy Eglinton, whose senior career spanned more than 20 years, a dozen of them for Everton and 24 Irish caps.
That Eglinton had been denied a place in the Irish team which defeated England at his own Goodison Park patch in 1949 was, according to fiery Finbarr, one of the foulest acts of sporting injustice ever perpetrated by the FAI’s selectors.
As a kid, Vinny had seen Eglinton play once, as a 40-year-old winger for Cork Hibs in the 1963 FAI Cup final at Dalymount Park.
On his retirement, Eglinton set up a butcher’s shop in Dollymount, where Vinny was regularly sent for messages.
He’d marvelled at how Eglinton chatted and joked amiably with his customers, surrounded by rings of black puddings and tripe.
The late Eglinton had a life-long nickname that would now be carried on the racetracks, in the colours of Everton’s royal blue, and a white cap.
Just where the journey would take The Hole In The Trousers Syndicate was anyone’s guess but saddling up with Eggo Bleu was, he felt, going to be one hell of a ride.