Tuesday, 29 September 2015



Shelbourne cancelled, AGAIN!

The Irish Greyhound Board has deferred the Annual Irish Greyhound Awards which were scheduled to be held at Shelbourne Park Stadium on Saturday (February 11th) and has cancelled the racing programme at the Stadium on the same night.

The decision was taken in the wake of a decision by Dublin Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association (DGOBA) to picket the stadium. Despite representations by IGB last night, Wednesday, February 8th, advising of the serious implications of the decision, DGOBA declined to change its decision to picket.

It is extremely disappointing that one of the flagship events of the year to acknowledge excellence within the industry has had to be deferred and racing cancelled again because of DGOBA pickets. IGB is not going to allow our owners, trainers, staff and the general public to be used in this way by a small section within the industry.

IGB reiterates that its Business Plan is focused on addressing the organisation’s unsustainable debt of €21.6 million. There is an absolute requirement for everybody to recognise the commercial realities and the time is well gone when special interests can hold the industry to ransom.
IGB apologises to our sponsors, patrons and greyhound owners and trainers for the disruption caused.


Race meeting at Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium cancelled!!

Dr. Sean Brady, Chief Executive of the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) has today (Friday February 3) cancelled a race meeting scheduled for Saturday night (February 4) at Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium due to a planned picket.

"It is deeply disappointing that some involved in the greyhound industry should propose to picket a race meeting at the Irish Greyhound Board’s Shelbourne Park Stadium tomorrow night.

"At a time when the industry is grappling with serious financial and structural difficulties, it is even more concerning that anyone would think that disrupting the industry racing calendar and commercial operations will in some way advance their interests.

"As recently as Wednesday, I met with members of Dublin Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association (DGOBA ). I told them that as  Interim Chief Executive,  I have no interest in revisiting history or in apportioning blame for things that happened in the industry ten, twenty or thirty years ago. Neither am I going to get involved in the various spats between personalities that have obviously been a feature of IGB for a long, long time.

"IGB is charged with managing the current situation and dealing with issues that demand attention urgently.  The fundamentals are very worrying. IGB is very seriously challenged financially and nobody should be in any doubt that the organisation faces a defining period.

"At the end of 2015, net group debt stood at €21.6 million. The IGB continues to work very closely with its banking partners to manage issues arising from legacy debt of €12.5 million relating to Limerick Stadium which continues to overhang the industry and inhibit its development. The Board also operates on the basis of a term loan facility of €6 million which is subject to fixed annual repayments, together with the application of any proceeds of Bord na gCon’s asset disposal policy to end of 2017. The balance of this facility was reduced to €4.65 million as of December 31 2015. In addition, the Board has an approved overdraft facility of €6.25 million.

"Many stadia are still facing financial difficulties, even when the contribution of Tote profits is factored in. Difficult decisions have to be made as the current position cannot continue indefinitely. If this industry is to have any kind of viable future, it has to be on the basis of reducing its debt to sustainable levels. There isn’t any alternative to that.

"The Indecon Report which was commissioned by the Government and published in 2014 is the most comprehensive review of the industry ever undertaken. It is very stark and outlines an asset disposal plan, including the sale of Harolds Cross Stadium.  The objective here is to reduce interest payments, eliminate bank borrowings and create a viable future for the industry. It’s also about establishing a single top of the range stadium in Dublin. As far as I am concerned, that sale will proceed.
"On foot of the planned protest at Shelbourne Park Stadium tomorrow night about the future of Harolds Cross,  IGB has taken the decision to cancel racing at the stadium. This decision was taken in the interests of animal welfare and of owners, trainers, staff and patrons.  Such a protest will expose owners and trainers who want their dogs to race, our patrons, our staff and our service providers to unwarranted stress, tension and possibly intimidation. IGB are not prepared to countenance such a scenario and I have ordered the cancellation of the event."

Dr, Sean Brady, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Irish Greyhound Board


BoyleSports sponsored events to deliver €1 million in prizemoney

Irish Greyhound Racing is celebrating its biggest sponsorship of recent years, with the announcement that BoyleSports have signed a 3-year agreement worth €1 million in prizemoney to Greyhound Owners, Trainers and Breeders.

The new agreement will see BoyleSports, Ireland’s largest independently-owned bookmaker, renew their title sponsorship of the Irish Greyhound Derby. Ireland’s biggest Greyhound Racing event, the BoyleSports Irish Greyhound Derby runs through August and September at Shelbourne Park, and attracts Greyhound audiences from across the globe. The 3-year agreement secures sponsorship of the event through 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The bookmakers have also committed to title sponsorship of another important Classic event, the Champion Stakes, which is also run at the Dublin venue in July and August. Both events run over the 550yd distance, and drawing to a close just in time for the Derby, the Champion Stakes attracts many big names as the perfect entrée to our greatest competition. The Champion Stakes sponsorship is based on an initial 1 year term with the option to renew for a further 2 years.

Alongside the two high-profile events, BoyleSports will also sponsor 12 additional sweepstake events and 40 ‘Getting Out Races’. The sweepstakes will cater for a variety of grades and distances and will be scheduled to ensure that there is no more than one per month, maximising Greyhound Owners and Trainers opportunity to participate in the events.

Speaking at the announcement Phil Meaney, Chairman of the Irish Greyhound Board, said “John Boyle’s passion for Greyhound racing is evident to all involved in the sport. Through his company, BoyleSports, he has been a long-time supporter of the Irish Greyhound Industry, where he has not only lent financial support to major events but also helps us to increase our reach through the strength of their brand.

Today’s announcement brings that passion and belief in our sport to the next level with what is his biggest Greyhound sponsorship to date. Through this commitment, BoyleSports will be helping us to deliver €1 million in Prizemoney to the Greyhound Owners, Trainers and Breeders over the next 3 years, news which I’ve no doubt will be very welcome to the Greyhound public.”

John Boyle, the chief executive of BoyleSports, said: “We are thrilled to announce BoyleSports will be committed to Irish Greyhound Racing for the next three years in a sponsorship deal worth over one million. We are very committed to Irish sport and this partnership with the IGB, cements BoyleSports position as the biggest supporter of Irish greyhound racing sponsoring two of the most prestigious events on the calendar, the BoyleSports Irish Greyhound Derby and the BoyleSports Champion Stakes.”

Referring to the announcement, Minister of State for Food Forestry and Horticulture Andrew Doyle said: “The greyhound racing sector is part of the fabric of the Irish sporting scene. It enjoys the support of people all over Ireland who are passionate about it, and provides significant public good, both as a social outlet and as a provider of vital employment, especially in rural areas.

In Government we will continue to provide financial support to the sector. However, Bord na gCon is a commercial enterprise, and the greyhound racing sector could not survive without the commitment of its Board and staff, or of owners, breeders, trainers and fans and the ongoing support of sponsors. In this regard I want to thank BoyleSports for its continued commitment to the sport of Greyhound Racing. I also want to congratulate Bord na gCon on concluding this deal which will provide the kind of funding which is the lifeblood of the sector over the next three years.


Nominees announced for the 2016 National Greyhound Racing Awards

Wednesday 18th January 2016

The Irish Greyhound Board has announced the nominees for the 2016 National Greyhound Racing Awards, sponsored by Galway Crystal. The stars of last year will be recognised at the ceremony on Saturday 11th February at Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium, Dublin. 

Seven Greyhound categories each have three nominations announced, with the overall winner awarded at the ceremony. The remaining Greyhound category, Supreme Greyhound of the Year, will be decided between the Dog of the Year and Bitch of the Year winners. 

The human achievements of the sport are also being recognised within the Hall of Fame and Special Merit categories. The 2016 Hall of Fame recipient is Francie Murray. A Greyhound trainer based near Mullingar, he first came to note when in 1977, having just taken over training from his dad Mick, he was pipped to second place in the Derby Final. It was the start of a great training career which has continued to the present day.

The Special Merit Award honours the people who have made a significant contribution to the greyhound industry over the years and Jim Russell is undoubtedly a very special person in that regard. He has owned many fine greyhounds over the years, including the great marathon runner Ruscar Dana. A most dedicated supporter of racing in Kilkenny over many years, Jim is a popular figure at the track. 

The Greyhound Welfare award, which was first introduced two years ago, will be awarded to Tara Fitzpatrick. Tara is nominated for her work with All About Greyhounds, a Belfast Greyhound rehoming agency which she established in 2014 and operates on a voluntary basis. Tara is a keen Greyhound enthusiast and along with owning a number of racing Greyhounds she also owns five retired racers. Along with her work with All About Greyhounds, Tara is a keen promoter and supporter of the North of Ireland Retired Greyhound Shows and the All-Ireland Retired Greyhound Shows.

  The 2016 National Greyhound Racing Award nominations are:

 Dog of the Year
 Droopys Roddick
 Jaytee Jet
 Rural Hawaii

 Bitch of the Year
 Holycross Leah
 Sidarian Pearl
 Witches Belle

 Sprinter of the Year
 Aulton Jet
 Ballymac Bigmike

 Stayer of the Year
 Airmount Tess
 Skywalker Rossa

 Brood Bitch of the Year
 Ballymac Scarlet
 Chin Gach Gook
 Duck Fat

 Stud Dog of Year
 Droopys Scolari
 Kinloch Brae

 Future Star
 Bull Run Bolt
 Drive On Tipp
 Droopys Wilbury 

 Supreme Greyhound of the Year
 To be announced on Saturday 11th February

 Hall of Fame
 Francie Murray

 Special Merit Award
 Jim Russell

 Greyhound Welfare
 Tara Fitzpatrick

On the 11th February, nominees and invited guests will arrive at Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium at 4pm for the Awards ceremony, with Dinner and Racing to follow that evening. This is the tenth consecutive year of the Galway Crystal sponsorship.

Nominees will receive their invites over the coming days, and tickets will also be available to purchase from the IGB Sales Centre on 1890 269 969. Full details of the event are available on www.gogreyhoundracing.iewww.gogreyhoundracing.ie.

The Greyhound Racing nominees were decided by the selection panel;  Tom Aherne, Declan O’Donoghue, Ian Fortune, Michael Fortune, D.J. Histon, Tony Mulvey, Tommy Lyons, Paddy Ryan and Teresa Wall. The Irish Greyhound Board has been recognising the stars of its sport annually since 1965, when Ballyowen Chief was awarded Greyhound of the Year. 

Tralee Racing Manager Declan Dowling has issued this schedule for trials and racing at the Kingdom Greyhound Stadium for January.



The Irish Greyhound Board Annual Awards will take place on Saturday 11th February at Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium. Full details to follow but for now, mark the date in your diary!


Limerick & Clare Greyhound Owners & Breeders Association

Annual Gala/Awards Night Saturday 7th January 2017 

The awards are a celebration of the talent, success and achievement bestowed on the recipients by their peers. They are a way of endorsing the winners’ abilities and rewarding their achievements through the hard work put into their accomplishments. The title “Award Winner” enhances ones reputation and has connotations of expertise. 

The Award winners for 2016 are:

Dog of Year
Ocean Jerry owned and trained by Mr Tom Fitzgerald, Parteen, Co. Clare.
From 22 starts Jerry won 9 was 2nd on 4 occasions and 3rd six times, a very worthy champion.

Bitch of Year
Mr Charley McLoughney’s, Nenagh, Liosgarbh Ene, having competed in 12 races she won 6 was 2nd 3 times and 3rd twice, a remarkable strike rate by any standards.

Owner with most Race Winners
Mr Tim Gilbourne, Kilmeedy, Co. Limerick. Who had 25 winners, 14 seconds and 21 thirds

Public Trainer
Mr Denis P O’Malley, Drombanna, Co. Limerick. 
Denis sent out 32 winners, 44 of his charges finished second and 31 finished third.
This is his third successive year winning this award.

Mr Donal Cooney, Broadford, Co. Clare.
Greyhounds trained by Donal won 16 races were 2nd 14 times and 3rd on 21 occasions.

Race programme
The race programme will consist of 13, all sponsored, finals over a broad cross section of grades over various distances from 350 yds. Sprints to 750 yds. Long Distance. Each winner will be presented with a piece of Galway Crystal and a walking out jacket.

A raffle will also take place during the evening for a variety of prizes including hampers, meal voucher, a Limerick and a Clare Jersey signed by the current respective hurling panels together with a signed Munster Rugby Jersey.

The Association is very grateful for the generosity of its sponsors without whose support the event would have been impossible to hold.

Limerick & Clare GOBA is very proud of the magnificent stadium in Limerick where patrons can enjoy superb racing in plush surroundings.

A special word of thanks to track Management & Staff


Ladbrokes Renew Sponsorship Of The Easter Cup

Great news in advance of Christmas from Shelbourne Park as Ladbrokes have confirmed their position again as the Title sponsor of the 2017 Easter Cup. Offering over €42,000 in Prizemoney, the Easter Cup was the first ever open event to run in Ireland, in 1928.

Ladbrokes have long been associated with Greyhound Racing in Shelbourne Park having previously sponsored two other Classic events, the Open 600 and the Irish Greyhound Derby at the venue.

The Ladbrokes Easter Cup will run over 4 Saturday nights at the Dublin venue, with the Final on Saturday 11th March. The Easter Cup has traditionally attracted the top greyhounds in training, and through the years some of the most infamous names in the sport have competed. Mick The Miller, arguably the most famous greyhound, was beaten by half a length in the 1929 running. Spanish Battleship won in 1954 & 1955 in the middle of his Derby hat-trick. The winner of this year’s competition will receive €25,000.

Speaking at the announcement Patrick Flynn, Sales, Commercial & Operations Manager at Shelbourne Park said, “We are delighted that Ladbrokes are re-confirmed   as the sponsor of the 2017 Easter Cup which is one of the feature events  on the Shelbourne Park racing calendar.  Our relationship goes back many years  and  has proven very successful to date. The Ladbrokes Easter Cup is one of the most prestigious events in the racing calendar and provides the perfect platform to continue to build on previous sponsorship partnerships.”

Ladbrokes Director Jackie Murphy added: "We've enjoyed many associations with Shelbourne Park and look forward to getting behind the Ladbrokes Easter Cup once again next year. We are committed to supporting Irish sport and this will be one of a number of top quality Irish sporting events that our name will be partnered with in 2017."

Key Event Dates

1st Round Heats                      Saturday 18th February
2nd Round Heats                     Saturday 25th February
Semi-Finals                             Saturday 4th March
Final                                       Saturday 11th March


Sponsors confirm renewal of World’s Richest Puppy Race

The World’s Richest Puppy Race, the Con and Annie Kirby Memorial, is set to return to Limerick Greyhound Stadium in 2017 following a detailed review of the event with the sponsors, Noreen and JP McManus. The 2016 event, which ran over 5 weeks in March and April, was the most successful to date with a 12% increase in attendances and a reach of over half a million on social media.

The sponsors will also be continuing their GAA Nominators competition, which matches Limerick GAA clubs to competing Greyhounds and awards the six finalist Clubs a share in a €20,000 prize fund each year. Along with their €10,000 prize, the winning club also receives a free fundraising benefit night at Limerick Greyhound Stadium.

IGB Chairman Phil Meaney commented; "We are thrilled that Noreen & JP McManus have confirmed the renewal of their sponsorship of this fantastic Puppy event at Limerick Greyhound Stadium, and are extremely grateful to them for their continued investment. Over the past 4 years, the event has recognised and rewarded the good young stock of the racing industry, with the winners all going on to make their mark in the sport. The 2016 event was our most successful to date receiving tremendous support from the Greyhound Racing and GAA communities alike. I’m looking forward to 2017 already.”

Previous winners of the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial:
2013                       Greyhound: Roxholme Bully                       GAA Club: Monagea
2014                       Greyhound: BoyleSports Hero                   GAA Club: Galbally GAA
2015                       Greyhound: Cable Bay                                   GAA Club: Fr. Casey’s
2016                       Greyhound: Droopys Roddick                    GAA Club: Bruree GAA

The Con and Annie Kirby Memorial, which was first run in 2013, offers a  prizefund of €160,000 to the competing Greyhounds. To date, €720,000 in prizemoney has been awarded to Greyhound and GAA Club winners. The event is named in memory of Noreen McManus’ late parents.


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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

2015 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake……The Story So Far!

The success of the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake since it’s inception in 2013 has seen the event grow to one of the most influential competitions not only in Ireland but on the world stage, with it’s lofty tag as the richest puppy stake on the planet drawing envious attention from all corners of the greyhound globe.

Making this success possible is the generosity of Noreen & J.P McManus through their sponsorship and innovative inclusion of the GAA Clubs in County Limerick which has made this festival of young greyhound talent a compelling spectacle on the track but also in the stands with enthusiastic support for all 72 contenders, guaranteed. All patrons, owners and trainers are encouraged to express a debt of gratitude to the McManus Family at every turn for the chance to race for our €80,000 first prize is a rare and precious opportunity.

Roxholme Bully
Inaugural winner Roxholme Bully
Unique in many ways, the relaxed age restriction on these pups to 26 months of age means that the event receives these talented young trackers at a further stage of development than any other puppy stakes around the country and ready to launch themselves to the upper echelons of the sport in what has become the birthplace of superstars. We have seen two phenomenal greyhounds land the outright honours in our previous staging’s as Owen McKenna’s Roxholme Bully took the inaugural event in 2013 with powerful displays throughout, while Brendan Matthews Boylesports Hero was breath-taking in his march to glory last year. Both these wonderful winners subsequently had their race careers cease prematurely but such was their prowess that we now eagerly await the first of their progeny to hit the racing scene. We have also seen an Irish Derby winner emerge from this stake through Slippery Robert along with finalists Vulturi and Emers Superstar and last season’s English Derby third Crokers Champ.

Matthews back for another tilt with opening round brace!

Brendan Matthews (left) bids for back to back Kirby glory!
A fantastic night of opening round action set the scene for another epic renewal with many outright ante-post fancies laying down markers from the outset but just as the event ended last year, so it began in 2015 with a Brendan Matthews winner! 
He claimed the very first heat on night one when Leave At Dawn scorched to a highly impressive victory in 28.53 and completed the double when litter brother Boylesports Jet was the fastest winner of the night with a brilliant display throughout heat 10, registering 28.37! Completing the Matthews trio of entries from a litter by Foleys Folly out of Toms Delight was Cable Bay, who although only fourth in heat 5, gamely found a qualifying run after a slow start for an ultimately more significant result as he would subsequently progress further than his litter comrades!

Claiming victory in that same heat 5 was Robert Gleeson’s Droopys Braedon when leading at the first bend from trap 4 to record a one length verdict over Beaming Bucko in a smart 28.63, keeping his unbeaten career record intact but it was Graham Holland who led the way in the training stakes on the opening night with three heat winners from his seven entries. He saw Ballydoyle Honey build on her Clonmel Champion Unraced Stake victory with a pleasing 28.58 in a seven length win before Cabra Mufasa dominated heat 4 in 28.98. However it was Rural Hawaii who impressed most when completing the Holland treble in heat 9, claiming a place on the outright shortlist with a brilliant early paced display despite being led from trap 6. He cleverly switched inside his wide running trap 5 rival on the run to the bend, gaining clear racing room that would see him dominate throughout in a slick 28.55.

Three remain unbeaten as Jap goes fastest!

Lighting up our second round heats was a stunning performance by the Pat Buckley trained Coolavanny Jap with a sizzling 28.22 in his heat 4 victory having led to the first bend from trap 3, catapulting him to the top of the outright betting market. The night saw three runners register back to back victories in the event and first up in heat 1 was Rural Hawaii when again displaying impressive pace throughout after a good start from trap 6. He paced up well on the outside, crucially denying Cable Bay an early lead in 28.48. Our next repeat winner came in the following heat where Rachel Wheeler’s Cunning Barney warmed to his Kirby task by posting a Limerick hat-trick. He had a favourable draw in a heat that contained some serious outright fancies and used his rails pitch from trap 1 to good effect for a clear run. He stretched clear for a five and a half length verdict over Baile Mhic in 28.57 with Ballydoyle Honey in third. The big casualties here were first round winners Leave at Dawn and Farloe Hunter when finding traffic at the opening turns.

Closing the second round heats with a six timer to start his career was Robert Gleeson’s Droopys Braedon when dominating heat 8 following a blistering 1.19 sectional from an ideal trap 1 on his way to a six and a half length verdict over Fastaway Jayfkay in 28.49. Other notable winners on the night were Beaming Boost who showed pleasing progression for his Limerick debut to repel Go Django by two lengths in heat 7, recording 28.53 while Ivy Hill Bart gave a thoroughly professional performance in heat 6 with a smart break and all round pace to defeat Boherna Pedro by four lengths in 28.63.

Droopy remains unbeaten in sizzling seven

Breaking extremely fast from trap 1, Droopys Braedon registered his seventh straight career win when dominating the second quarter-final, again displaying brilliant early pace to record his career best time of 28.35. Impressive when chasing him home in second place was Boylesports Jet who made significant headway from the second turn to go down by just three quarters of a length with Beaming Boost another half a length back in third. 

This came after Pale Moon had caused an upset in the first heat of the night when leading in the early strides from trap 2 for a first bend lead that would see him home by a short-head in 28.71 from the fast finishing Boherna Pedro with Cable Bay finding another game qualifying effort in third after a slow start. This heat saw the elimination of hot favourite Coolavanny Jap when his menacing challenge was thwarted by losing his action at the third bend.

Noel Hehir has reached back to back Kirby Finals!
This was followed by a trap to line victory in heat 3 for Fastaway Jayfkay who just lasted home by a neck from a fast finishing Country Legend in 28.73 with Liscahane Royal in third before the big clash of two unbeaten stake runners in our concluding heat 4. Cunning Barney & Rural Hawaii both had suitable draws in a mouth-watering tussle and they duly delivered the buckle of the competition with the Holland charge prevailing by just a neck in 28.45 with Noel Hehir’s Ivy Hill Bart in third.

Rural keeps it Country in semi-finals!

Our semi-final heats brought two supreme performances with breathtaking winning displays and Graham Holland’s Rural Hawaii will go to traps a warm favourite for outright glory in the final as the fastest remaining runner having recorded a brilliant 28.22 when ending the unbeaten run of Droopys Braedon by a convincing five lengths. He kept his own unbeaten record in the event intact when outpacing both Ivy Hill Bart and Droopys Braedon to the second turn despite being a half length adrift of that pair in the early stages. He stretched readily clear on the back-straight with victory secured as the scramble for coveted final places unfolded in his wake. Boylesports Jet was attempting to recover from a very tardy start and appeared to have his final place secured when passing Ivy Hill Bart to range alongside Droopys Braedon at the third bend but was cruelly checked at this point. He lost significant ground and the third qualifying place to Ivy Hill Bart as a consequence.

The opening quarter final was a much more straight forward affair as Maurice Heffernan’s strong stayer Country Legend found a rare fast start for a first bend lead that he would never surrender and announced himself as big final contender with a blistering 28.33 in a four length victory over Beaming Boost who had tracked him for all of the trip. Cable Bay filled third when again displaying impressive back-straight pace to fend off the attentions of Liscahane Royal and closed to within a neck of Beaming Boost at the line.

Thanks again to the Racing Post. Linkhttp://t.co/PTJDC285H5

 The Final Draw


Maurice Heffernan’s Country Legend arrived at Limerick with a sole novice race win to his name and had just registered his first official open race time in an A1 defeat at Shelbourne Park. He has however developed throughout this event showing an admirable staying quality to fill qualifying places in the early rounds. Not noted for his prowess to the bend he found a fast break in the semi-final to lead at the opening turn for the first time in his career and made a virtual procession of a hot heat. Has he found the necessary improvement at just the right time? Has the penny dropped at traps? If so, he could make a mockery of his 5/1 quote!

Pat Buckley’s Beaming Boost had already made a lasting mark in all-aged open race company before arriving at Limerick when running-up the Kingdom Derby at Tralee with brilliant clocks. Improving for his first race at the track he registered a smart round 2 heat win in 28.53 and showed further progression with his best clock of the event next time. Only beaten by one and a quarter lengths to Droopys Braedon in the quarter final, he was himself recording 28.44, from this trap. He now has Braedon on his outside and it is conceivable that he could gain a clear run on the rails for a possible reverse of that form if finding his best break as his splits compare very favourably to all. He is definitely not without hope at 6/1.

Robert Gleeson’s Droopys Braedon gave due notice of his Kirby credentials when arriving at Limerick for an A3 stake in mid January. Recording 28.38 in the second round heats of that event he went straight to the top of the outright betting market for the Kirby and remained there until beaten by Rural Hawaii last week. Discounting his chances solely on that defeat would be a mistake now for his career start of seven straight wins still merits huge respect. He must prove that he can be as effective from trap 3 as he has been from the red jacket but a repeat of his sizzling early round splits may bring the decisive first bend lead that he will need for victory. He will merit the support of his legion of admirers at 9/4.

4) CABLE BAY (m)  
The only one of Brendan Matthews trio of supremely talented litter comrades not to register a heat win, Cable Bay has plotted his path to the final like a veteran, with track craft beyond his years. Displaying phenomenal back-straight pace, he has gamely earned qualifying places from unpromising positions in the wake of his slow starts. The bare face of his form would appear to offer only a place claim now but he would benefit from any traffic among early leaders and mount a serious challenge if close off the second bend. One other source of hope for his supporters is his brilliant trial form at Limerick in advance of this event. He must have been breaking smartly to record 18.70 and 18.76, if he translated that sprint form in the first half of the final his chances would be much more realistic than his 10/1 price.

Ivy Hill Bart gives Noel Hehir his second consecutive Kirby finalist and having entered the stake as an A1 racer he has steadily improved throughout the event. He recorded a second round heat victory when producing his best start for a first bend lead in 28.63 and will need that slick exit again now for he must deny the favourite in trap 6 a second bend lead if he is to hold reasonable win claims. That will prove a tough task but he almost managed to match him in the semi-final until inconvenienced by Droopys Braedon on the rail when shuffled back to third. It will take a career best but he is no forlorn hope at 12/1.

Graham Holland’s Rural Hawaii posted some sizzling trials in advanced of his Kirby campaign and confirmed that promise from his very first heat at Limerick when recording 28.55 and has improved with every run since. Beating three fellow finalists along the way he has recorded 28.48, 28.45 and thrilled patrons last weekend with his brilliant 28.22 when ending the unbeaten career record of Droopys Braedon in emphatic style. Not a proficient trapper just yet, he is devastating once in full stride and is a true trap 6 tracker. He maintains a straight line to the bend and only begins his drift inward when clear room is available. There are very few points on the track where he gets close to the rail thus allowing him to avoid potential bumping and the prospect of another clear run on the outside of Ivy Hill Bart makes him a truly worthy favourite at 6/4.

The Verdict!

The make up of the final appears to offer highly plausible claims for a cleanly run race with the outside trio all justifying their seeding and expect them to keep a straight line in the early exchanges. Widest of the inside seeds, Droopys Braedon has twice raced from middle draws at Limerick showing no significant inclination to move dramatically inward which all points to a clear run for all.

Should that be the case, the fastest runner and warm favourite is justifiably Rural Hawaii. He continues to improve and his semi-final performance, if repeated will see him home in front. Expect Ivy Hill Bart to make a forward showing to the first bend with Rural Hawaii ranging alongside upon turning the corner. Provided none of the inside runners run dramatically into his path at this stage, his powerful second bend gallop can see him take command. 

The biggest threat would come from Droopys Braedon if he found one of his flying starts but even so, he would need clear air between himself and the selection to prevent him leading into the back-straight, for the presence of Rural Hawaii on his outside would stifle his crucial second bend gallop as it did in the semi-final.

Any final punt would have to take into consideration a possible repeat of Country Legend’s semi-final win form. If he reproduces his fast start and leads those on the inside, the strong stayer would prove extremely difficult to repel. His rails berth offers a clear claim for a rails run even if he does not lead on the inside and must enter trio calculations as a runner that can do it both ways!

A career best would be needed from the remaining three contenders if they were to cause a minor shock and the most likely to do so may be Beaming Boost. His starting splits compare quite favourably with those around him and there is a scenario where he could be the one to command the rails. He would not need to improve much on his best time of 28.44 if so and merits plenty of respect. For Cable Bay to deliver back to back Kirby wins for Brendan Matthews he would need the early pacers to become entwined at some point but his back-straight pace does warrant trio consideration while the outsider of the field, Ivy Hill Bart must turn the opening bend in front which seems a big ask but he possesses enough early pace to turn in a prominent position for plausible place claims.

Prediction: 6-2-4

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake 2015

Droopys saucy seven lights up sizzling Kirby 2015 by Paul Cooney

The quarter-finals of the 2015 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake provided four action packed heats that truly had everything to entertain even the most race hardened greyhound enthusiast with yet more shock eliminations, brilliant performances and one admirable achievement by the Robert Gleeson trained Droopys Braedon when protecting his unbeaten career record by landing heat 2 with a dominant trap to line display, recording his fastest time of 28.35.

Droopys Braedon arrived at Limerick to contest a 48 runner A3 stake in January having scored an A6 debut success at Shelbourne Park. With the Kirby an obvious target at that stage, he announced himself as a serious contender when clocking 28.56 on his Limerick debut and followed that win with 28.38 and 28.50 in two subsequent heat victories. His withdrawal from that A3 final to fine tune his Kirby preparations now looks a smart decision as he returned in sparkling form and has scored a hat-trick of heat wins when hardly seeing another rival following slick starts in each round. There can be no doubt that the red jacket has helped his cause along the way but when an early pacer posts breaking splits of 1.18 and 1.19 it lends one to believe that he might well cope in any draw.

Michael Keenan with John Boyle`s 2014 HERO!
Breaking fast from trap 1 last week he comfortably led on the run to the opening bend where he was followed into the back-straight at a three length deficit by Beaming Boost with Boylesports Jet (ex Hoodwinked) a further one and a half lengths back in third. Braedon maintained his advantage to the third bend but by now Boylesports Jet had drawn alongside Beaming Boost with a menacing challenge having shown exceptional back-straight pace.
 The chasing pair had closed to a length and a half entering the home-straight and the winner was all out to repel the powerful and impressive late thrust of the new John Boyle recruit by three quarters of a length in 28.35 with Pat Buckley’s Beaming Boost just a half length further back in third place of what was a wonderfully talent laden “Kirby” heat.

Pale Moon rises as big guns lose out in heat 1

The opening heat of the night promised a big clash between strong outright fancies Ballydoyle Honey and fastest round 2 winner Coolavanny Jap but that scenario would not materialise as Patrick O’Connor’s Pale Moon broke well from trap 2 and defended his rails pitch at the first bend for a back-straight lead that would see him safely home in 28.71. He was slipstreamed at the first bend by the clever Boherna Pedro from trap 1 and Liam Dwan’s powerhouse again showed big pace from the second turn to reduce a two length deficit to the minimum short-head at the line. There was misery behind the leading pair for supporters of the favourites with Ballydoyle Honey unable to gain clear racing room at the bend despite breaking on terms from trap 3 but it was much more disheartening for connections of Coolavanny Jap who had seemed safe when managing to secure third place off the second bend. He flew on the back-straight to range alongside Boherna Pedro at the third turn but in a minor brush between the pair, completely lost his action and was shuffled back lengths, costing him a possible win chance but more pertinently cost him his qualifying place, leaving Cable Bay to benefit when a three length third.

Our third quarter-final then saw Neilus O’Connell’s Fastaway Jayfkay score his first heat win of the event with an impressive early paced display. He just made the bend in front with a length to spare and swept to a commanding advantage on the back-straight when galloping the turns sweetly. He held a seven length margin over Country Legend who used his trap 1 draw to good effect for a clear run and made a late bid for glory when staying strongly. Reducing the leaders advantage with every stride he just failed to mow him down when a neck second in 28.73. Liscahane Royal emerged best from bumping between the remaining runners to take third where both Go Django and Ring Ben lost there chances when knocked over at the opening bend.

Hawaii remains unbeaten in heat 4 cracker

Holland's Hawaii remains unbeaten in Kirby 2015
Two unbeaten stake runners lined up for battle from opposite draws in the concluding heat where Rachel Wheeler’s Cunning Barney and Graham Holland’s Rural Hawaii treated patrons to an absolute thriller. The former made just about the best start and held a slight advantage on the run to the bend with a crucial rails pitch from trap 1. Rural Hawaii had a half length to make up after his moderate start from trap 6 but showed brilliant early pace to draw alongside Barney on the outside and forged a half length advantage entering the back-straight. He had stretched to a length and a half by the third bend but offered Cunning Barney the inside line when charting a middle course and the Wheeler charge took full advantage to draw level entering home-straight. 

A thrilling buckle saw the pair locked in a protracted battle all the way to the line with Rural Hawaii prevailing by just a neck in a smart 28.45. Impressing once again when chasing these home in third was Noel Hehir’s Ivy Hill Bart. He held strong against slight crowding at the turns and showed all the pace of the leading pair thereafter when going down by less than two and a half lengths.

Back Beaming to Boost Buckley challenge

1) Country Legend 2) Boherna Pedro 3) Cunning Barney 4) Beaming Boost 5) Cable Bay(m) 6) Liscahane Royal(w)

Our opening semi-final will for the first time see Cunning Barney contest a Kirby heat without the benefit of the red jacket but his trap 3 berth would appear to offer a highly plausible claim for another rails run at the opening bend as he can outpace those on his inside. The key to victory for the Rachel Wheeler runner will be fending off the attentions of Pat Buckley’s Beaming Boost in trap 4.

Image result for pat buckley greyhound trainer
Leger winning trainer Pat Buckley can get Boost from Beaming!
 The latter has a round one defeat at the hands of Cunning Barney to avenge if he is to win but has shown impressive pace throughout the event and excepting any bumping between the pair they are likely to contest heat victory from the top of the back-straight. The scramble to make the final in behind these will be a fascinating tussle with four strong staying pups certain to make late challenges. The manner in which Country Legend stayed on last week was extremely eye-catching and his trap 1 draw here may prove crucial for first run behind the likely pacesetters and he gets a tentative vote to reach the last six but in reality a strong case can be made for all runners. Verdict 4-3-1

Droopy draw can bring excellent eight!

1) Droopys Braedon 2) Pale Moon 3) Fastaway Jayfkay 4) Boylesports Jet(m) 5) Ivy Hill Bart(m) 6) Rural Hawaii(w)

There was groans from connections of every other remaining runner at the live semi-final draw last week when the unbeaten Droopys Braedon again secured a rails berth in trap 1 for our second semi-final and one can clearly see why! Attempting to end his unbeaten streak would take a monumental effort in any situation but his current form combined with his ideal draw almost makes him unopposable now. He can dominate the early exchanges, lead on the back-straight and most likely last home which leaves just two qualifying places for our remaining five contenders.

Draws win races and Trap 1 is ideal for Breadon!
We are still awaiting an official ownership change for Boylesports Jet who began this event as Hoodwinked but a commitment to purchase by 2014 winning owner John Boyle brought a name change for the third round heats and with it a return to his sizzling opening round win form. He chased home Droopys Braedon when reducing his advantage all the way from the second bend and although his trap 4 draw makes crowding likely, he simply possesses too much raw speed to exclude form the trio now. Graham Holland’s Rural Hawaii will need to be sharp from trap 6 but unbeaten in the event thus far, he has hardly put a paw out of place and a clear run must see him claim a qualifying place. Complicating this heat further is Noel Hehir’s Ivy Hill Bart in trap 5. Steadily progressing, he showed big pace in defeat last time and should he occupy a qualifying place at any point in the race, he is likely to defend it! Verdict 1-4-6

A Big Thanks to the Racing Post for carrying the Previews throughout the event! http://tinyurl.com/npqor2n

Outright Betting
Droopys Braedon
Cunning Barney
Boylesports Jet
Rural Hawaii
Beaming Boost
Cable Bay
Liscahane Royal
Ivy Hill Bart
Country Legend
Pale Moon
Boherna Pedro
Fastaway Jayfkay