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Producer AnnaMay Mullins discusses The Irish Derby – Níos Mó Ná Rása, which airs on TG4 this Wednesday at 9:30pm
04 Sep 2019 : Nathan Griffin
The Irish Derby – Níos Mó Ná Rása
Set against the backdrop of relevant historical events in Ireland The Irish Derby – Níos Mó Ná Rása (More Than a Race) captures the essence of one of Ireland’s greatest sporting traditions, the Irish Derby, from its humble beginnings in 1866 to becoming a top international race and attracting some of the leading racehorse owners in the world.

With unique access to the Curragh racecourse, training yards, stud farms and rare archive footage the fascinating one-hour documentary merges its colourful and inspirational past with its exciting future, through the new multi-million-euro redevelopment.

The programme explores the big turning points in the history of this iconic race including the great Orby, the first horse to win both the Epsom and the Irish Derby in 1907 and Joe McGrath’s influence in the revitalisation of the race in 1962, when it became the richest race in the world. It also showcases other giants of the turf that came and conquered such as Galileo, Nijinsky, Shergar, Windsor Slipper and some not as fortunate like Sir Ivor in 1968 but that defeat proved ‘an ill wind can blow some good’.  

Revealing accounts come from trainers Aidan O’ Brien, Charles O’ Brien, Dermot Weld, Jim Bolger, John Gosden, John Oxx, Joseph O’ Brien and Michael Stoute, jockeys Frankie Dettori and Seamie Heffernan, former jockeys Lester Piggott, Michael Kinane and Pat Smullen, and John Magnier of Coolmore Stud to name but a few. There are also significant sound bites from Vincent O’Brien, Bing Crosby and Ib Jorgensen.

Renowned for its characters and celebrities, including show business legend Bing Crosby, this big day out at the historic Curragh racecourse is one of the most important dates on the social calendar. Former top fashion designer Ib Jorgensen played his part in the glamour stakes, by making sure his clients didn’t turn up in the same outfit.

The Irish Derby – Níos Mó Ná Rása is produced by AnnaMay Mullins of Bankos Tales Productions, directed by Evan Chamberlain and voiced by IFTA Lifetime recipient Finnula Flanagan. Ross O’Callaghan is the director of photography, with Paul Quinn and John Dunne on cameras, and sound by Trevor Cunningham, Finny Byrne and John Lowry. The documentary was made in association with TG4 and is supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

IFTN caught up with producer AnnaMay Mullins to find out more about the documentary before it airs tonight at 9:30pm.

The world of horseracing is such a surreal environment on the outside looking in; can you tell me a bit about how you approached this setting on a day to day basis?

“Prior to producing the documentaries, I had a very good knowledge and understanding of the horse racing business and was a fan of the sport for many years. I have built up a good bond and trust within the horse racing industry including owners, trainers, jockeys and historians. Having access and with this expert knowledge from within the industry my task of producing the documentaries is made easier. Also I rely on a dedicated team of professionals - e.g. director, camera, editors and sound etc.”

Can you tell me about the research process and how you collected and compiled the extensive history of The Irish Derby?

“Hard work searching through the various archive houses including the National Library, RTE, British Pathe to name but a few and hours of meetings and  phone conversations with both historians and racing experts.”

This is one in a long line of Irish Horse Racing documentaries for Bankos Tales Productions. What is it about the sport that continues to hold such a fascination for you?

“I have always had a great interest in history heritage and horse racing so I combine both, there are so many aspects to horse racing: For example, the Paddy Mullins story featured a legendary trainer and his family; The Irish Grand National – Chasing a Dream, featured Ireland’s most historical jumps race and the documentary traced the origin of the sport back to the world’s first recorded steeplechase between the church steeples of Buttevant and Doneraile hence the name steeplechasing. The Irish Derby – Níos Mó Ná Rása (More Than a Race) looks at the evolution of Ireland's premier flat race and it includes the success of the thoroughbred breeding industry in Ireland, fashion etc. Our programmes are set against the backdrop of relevant historical events in Ireland as to how they impacted on the subject.”

What are the future plans for Bankos Tales Productions?

“Funding is the name of the game and we have a few ideas in the pipeline, but we have got great support from the TV stations in Ireland and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland over the last few years.”

The Irish Derby – Níos Mó Ná Rása airs on TG4 this Wednesday, September 4th at 9:30pm

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