Skip to main content


The last race of the season was celebrated in true Irish style as the first visit of the loyal supporter of South African racing to this country, Michael Moroney, proved to be a truly memorable one.

He spoke to Turf Talk after father-son combination Carl and Lyle Hewitson had combined in fairytale fashion to bring home Pray For Rain in the LHKIR in December Umngeni Handicap over 1000m on the Hollywoodbets Greyville turf.

He said, “It is my first visit to South Africa, I arrived yesterday evening (Saturday) at half-past-four. I’m going back again on Tuesday and I’ve got a runner in Galway on Wednesday. I love the game.”
He continued, “I’m from Galway in Ireland and to be fair Carl told me to come over. He said today was the day. There was confidence. we had a chance of going for another particular race, I don’t want to name it, and I said rather we have Lyle ride him, we will make this a fairytale ending. Lyle rode him, for his Dad, my first time here.”
He explained how his The Poet’s Corner Syndicate entered SA racing and ended up having some horses with the Carl Hewitson yard.
“I have maybe 15 to 20 horses in training in South Africa at the moment. I have a few horses going for breeding, which I’m looking forward to. To be fair it’s due to a person who ended up in Ireland four years ago and asked me to help them get a job over there. This person then asked me if I would get involved in a horse over here. He was with Nathan Kotzen and the horse Pinch Me was my first winner and Lyle rode him. So it was a momento for me and today Carl is not just my trainer, he is my friend.”
Carl has trained about eight horses for Michael and six of them have won, some of them multiple times.
Michael explained why he had continued supporting SA racing after that first win with Pinch Me, “As I say I love racing. I love the breeding side of racing too. To be honest about it, on the flip side it is to do with the exchange rate.”
He explained his beginnings in racing were through his Uncle being involved in point to point racing and his father was a greyhound trainer. 
In 2019 Michael made some Galway history.
He part-owned a horse called One Cool Poet who arrived at the 2019 Galway Festival as the winner of just one race in 29 starts. However,  One Cool Poet then became only the second horse in history to land a hattrick in the traditional seven-day meeting.
Celebrating the hat-trick by One Cool Poet at Hennelly’s Pub in Galway, Moroney and a group of friends officially declared their favourite corner of their local pub “The Poets Corner”. Little did they know at the time that the name would soon form a new syndicate and carry the luck of the Irish all the way to South Africa.
One Cool Poet won three races in the space of six days at that unforgettable Galway festival and ironically the winning trot started on 30 July 2019, exactly four years to the days before The Poet’s Corner Syndicate’s memorable win on Sunday with Pray For Rain.
Michael concluded the interview by saying, “It’s a fairytale!” with some fine alliteration used in his choice of adjective to describe the enormity of the fairytale!
Hewitson’s two-meeting riding stint here during the Hong Kong break yielded two winners and both of them Listed races.
Pray For Rain was purchased by Carl for just R35,000 at a recent BSA Online auction and he has won both of his races for the yard, meaning his earnings for Hewitson so far are already R160,000.
Lyle used his Hong Kong experience to maximum effect in the Umngeni Handcap. He bounced the speedy Soft Falling Rain gelding out and claimed the rail from a good draw of four. His pace judgement, stretching the other runners but leaving a little in reserve proved perfect, as the horse found just enough extra when challenged late to get up by a quarter-of-a-length from the consistent African Skyline.