With the transfer window open, reigning League of Ireland champions Shamrock Rovers have made a surprise addition to their squad – a racehorse.
Gifted to their supporters by principal sponsor 888sport, all prize money won by the horse will be donated to Shamrock Rovers’ official charity partners, including international humanitarian response agency GOAL.
Rovers’ newest signing was unveiled at Tallaght Stadium with manager Stephen Bradley there to greet her along with first team player Dylan Watts, 888sport ambassador and former leading jockey Barry Geraghty and two Shamrock Rovers supporters.
The news was ‘leaked’ on Wednesday evening with legendary sports broadcaster Jim White – a veteran of countless transfer windows – picking up the story before the signing was confirmed on Thursday morning.
The unraced three-year-old filly’s progress will be overseen by one of the world’s best National Hunt trainers in Henry de Bromhead.
The leading handler at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, De Bromhead was also the man responsible for landing an incredible one-two in April’s Grand National.
There will also be regular input and insight from fellow Irishman Geraghty, who will provide video updates from the yard in Knockeen, County Waterford.
The unique campaign will go behind-the-scenes, following the filly’s journey from the beginning of her career, and provide money-can’t-buy opportunities to visit her at De Bromhead’s yard or see her on a racecourse.
Rovers supporters will be invited to name the filly via a social media competition, with the winner meeting her at a pre-training yard, along with some of the club’s players.
A fan vote will also determine the silks she will carry during her career.
Kieran Spellman, VP Head of Sport at 888sport, said: “We are very proud of Shamrock Rovers’ achievements this year and thought this would be a fun and unique way to mark the club’s incredible 19th league title.
“We are really looking forward to this lovely filly taking Rovers fans on an exciting journey with Henry de Bromhead, one of National Hunt’s greatest trainers, guiding her through the various stages of training that will hopefully one day get her to the track and, with a bit of luck, see her winning a race. That’s the dream!
“With any race winnings going to Rovers’ charity partners, there is also a really good cause at the heart of this campaign.”
Stephen Bradley, manager at Shamrock Rovers, said: “As if winning a 19th League of Ireland title a few weeks ago wasn’t enough for our fans, they’ve all now got a share in a racehorse!
“We are extremely grateful to 888sport for gifting them the filly and we can’t wait to see her carrying the Rovers colours in the future.”
Barry Geraghty, brand ambassador for 888sport in the UK and Ireland, said: “She might only be a three-year-old, but she’s already got plenty about her and you’d be quite hopeful she can progress into a nice filly for the Shamrock Rovers fans.
“It’s always a real thrill to own a racehorse and it will be great to go down to Waterford to meet her and track her progress as she prepares to start her career.”
Henry de Bromhead, trainer of the filly, said: “There’s obviously plenty of work to be done before we see her on a racecourse, but we’ve been pleased with what we’ve seen so far and hopefully she will provide Rovers supporters with a lot of fun.”
Hoops fan Michael Kearns added: “It’s been a one-horse race in the league for the last two seasons, so it’s great to see this happening!”