****2016 Coursing Interviews


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Browne’s dream realised by brilliant Bingo

I’ve said it before, it’s a lucky position I’m in to be tasked with interviewing Coursing people in the wake of victory and one that I am thoroughly grateful for. We repeatedly hear it said that you will find the best of people in this sport, unrivalled by any others in our slightly biased opinions, but biased or not it’s correct!

Another wonderful campaign of Coursing conversations with delighted winners is nearly at an end now and although well settled in the role at this stage, preparing to make the call to a Derby winning owner or trainer is a prospect that will always fill me with nervous tension. They have just won the big one, a lifetime’s ambition realised……I better be on the ball here!

So well received by winning connections twelve months ago and again dialling the Kingdom area code this time, my call to Coolavanny Bingo’s trainer Noel Browne of Castleisland had me at ease within seconds. A soft spoken voice which contradicted the tenor like rendition of “The whole world in his hands” following the Sunday evening presentation at Powerstown Park, welcomed my interruption in a most kind manner. However, I have to admit to being slightly shaken again on completion of a wonderful hour long interaction as Noel’s emotions when describing the win were intense, tear jerking on his part and left me running for strong coffee while waiting for myself and the phone to cease trembling. I don’t know what it feels like to win a Derby, but I’ve got a better sense of it now!

Coolavanny Bingo is owned by Noel in partnership with Mark Lowther & Derek Law of Herts. UK and he is delighted to have them share in this success explaining, “Mark has been wonderful to me. He’s buying dogs from me for many years now and along with his wife Catherine they are fantastic friends to have. Derek of course trains the dogs for him across the water and when they heard the dog had won in Bandon, they wanted in. I’m delighted for them and sure Coolavanny Wendy won the big unraced stake at Clonmel track the night before so it was nearly too much excitement for them all at once!” 

For my generation, Noel would have been viewed much more as a track trainer but those who can trace further back will know that he had taken bitches to the final day of Clonmel even before his best previous Coursing achievement when running up the 1974 Derby to Move On Swanky!

“Well I always told my mother that she brought home the wrong baby when I was born because there was never anyone in the family with an interest in greyhounds. But there was a cousin in the town, Tomo Bourke, with a few when I was really small and I was fascinated with the dogs. Fair play to my dad, he had no interest but he took me to Clonmel when I was 10 years old because I was so mad for it and I can still remember. It was like going through the pearly gates of heaven. It has been a drug ever since and I’d say I’ve hardly gone asleep a night that it hasn’t been on my mind.

“When I did get started then I never had very many, maybe a track dog or two and a Coursing bitch but I did ok. I got a few bitches to the last eight of the Oaks but then a great man Sean Broderick asked me to train a dog for him. That was a big deal for me back then and we went to the final of the Derby with Coil Heather. Sean only died last year, it’s a pity he wasn’t here to see this one!

“I was kept going with the family business and that for many years after those times and gave a good while without a Coursing dog. I was winning a few things on the track alright but how I came to get back into it with this fellow was over a breakfast with Jody Thompson. We were having the bit to eat, the morning after a wedding and Jody says to me, Noel you haven’t had a Coursing dog for a long time?! Well I said, if I could get a right well bred one, rear him up and train him to win the Derby, I’d die a happy man!

“So that had it in my head then and I ended up going to Shari Anne O’Donnell in New Inn to buy this fellow and I want to thank all the O’Donnell family sincerely. It’s a brilliant breeding line and I’m delighted that we could add to it. But once I had the pup bought, I had to buy another one to go with him so I bought a track pup from them also and he’s a smasher, Coolavanny Mason. He’ll run in the Juvenile at Tralee next week and he should go well although he could be a little bit backward now after all that has gone on this week, he might have missed a gallop or two!

“Bingo was a lovely pup from the very day I got him and we knew he was very good before he ever ran. He had a trial in Glin and I told my son-in-law Brendan Harty, who’s married to my daughter Emer, to go in to the bookies and try get 100/1 on a dog that has never ran to win the Derby, that’s how well he went in the trial! But they wouldn’t give it anyway.

“He was entered then in Castleisland but didn’t run. I changed up his a diet a bit getting him ready and it didn’t agree with him, just a small bit sick. My good friend John Callaghan forced me hard then to enter in Bandon and sure I’d never seen the field there before, I got a right shock when I saw the hill in it. But he ran tough there and that’s what he is, he’s fast but he’s very tough. Would you believe he was a pound heavier after the Derby on Monday morning than he was going to Clonmel?!

“Anyway we went for a Trial in Powerstown before the meeting and this is where I have to thank my main men. Eddie Mahoney helps me all the time. He does all the hard work and the walking. I have Mike Broderick too and David Begley who help with the galloping along with Larry Keane. They all deserve huge credit for this win and all tremendously proud they are too. But anyway, Mikey and Eddie took him down for the trial and everything went grand until Mikey spotted him hold up a leg after the run. So he rang me worried, we were all a bit worried!

“I rang Shane O’Gorman, a good friend, and asked him for the right vet to check the dog. He put me on to Gerry O’Reilly and as it went, Gerry passed him with a clean bill of health. Now Shane had said to me, keep that man on your side for the Derby. I took his advice and it was a brilliant move. I’m not a garsuin anymore and Gerry took so much work off me over the few days. He was down to me on Thursday night before the meeting to give a check over and a good rub. He drove down from Galway every night and was here again Monday morning at 8am. He was brilliant! 

“I was a bit worried going to the first round on Friday. That’s a good dog Howdododo and I thought if he got over him, we had a chance. Also my fellow’s first course in the morning wouldn’t be his best run, he would come for it. So I wasn’t surprised when he went so well in the second run on Saturday. I even said to the lads, if we get over the quarter-final he’ll go under the 12.00 in the semi, I’d be that confident of him in the second course of a day……But then came the quarter-final!

“He past me in front and just when I’m delighted to be through, he gets the hunt. I thought the Derby, my life long ambition was gone out of my hands. Ah I did a bit of roaring and bawling but sure I shouldn’t have, it wasn’t anyone’s fault, just one of those things in Coursing. I was gone for the van then to wait for him coming down and when I saw him landing back I says, that’s it, it’s only a waste of time.

“Now I hadn’t seen the rest of the quarter-finals because I went straight to the car park. I didn’t realise they all got hunting, we were all in the same boat. My fellow was tired and as far as I was concerned that was the end of it, he wouldn’t run again. At that time Liam Dowling, a real sound man, came down to us and said Noel, you have nearly an hour and a half. Wait and see what he’s like in an hour. So we looked after him the best we could, put him in the van and went for a drive, he’d relax better with the van moving.

“When we got him out again anyway, he shook himself off and looked OK. We had Mickey Murphy down too threatening to stand in front of the van if we tried to leave. So it was decided to run him and Gerry got to work on him again, but he wasn’t going to win. I was just hoping that he wouldn’t be destroyed.

“I was watching from about 200 yards up the fence and I didn’t think it was possible but I saw him go in front passing me and when he was about three lengths clear I roared like a mad man, I made a right show of myself. I just couldn’t contain my emotions is the truth of it. He was doing this for me. I went and started crying. I was in another world. I could hardly hear people talking around me.”

Taking a deep breath and gathering himself to continue the conversation as those emotions came flooding back, Noel continues, “he was no more stressed after that than he was after the quarter-final and he was going to run but I decided this time that I wasn’t going to open my mouth for the final. I couldn’t anyway because whatever about the dog, he was taking it better than me, I had to think of my heart aswel! I just watched it from the same spot and I was so proud of him, and grateful to him. He had won the Derby for me. I’ve had a wonderful life with my family. I’ve done alright in my work but now I have realised my dream……unbelievable!

I can’t stress enough the emotion evoked by Noel in describing this Derby win and rarely if ever have I spoken to a winner with so many to thank. Ownership of this win, as Noel describes it, belongs to all those friends who helped him both past and present and despite not sharing in his passion for greyhounds, it also belongs in no small part to his family. He implores a special mention for his surviving family, sisters Maeve, Angela and Anne while also remembering his brother Tom Browne. A promising footballer, he passed away at just 17 years of age when struck ill while training with the Kerry Minors and though never out of his mind, he is vividly recalled at this emotional time for Noel.

He describes his pride at seeing so many friends and family present in Powerstown Park on Sunday evening with special mention for his long term friend Bruno Healy. A proud dad, it meant the world to have almost all of his nine children and 14 grandchildren in attendance but Noel’s greatest thanks however is reserved for his wife Cait and her presence in Powerstown was as important almost as Coolavanny Bingo himself. “That meant as much to me as anything on the day. Cait is very dear to me. We were married young but we’re together 52 years, I’m mad about her!”

Noel modestly flirted over his track racing achievements throughout the conversation but it must be noted for those of a younger generation, that he could quite plausibly claim to have already won a Derby, on the track! Training Monalee Pride in 1970, Noel prepared him for his tilt at the Carrolls Irish Derby. A landmark year for the Derby with the prizemoney taking a significant jump to £5000 from much less, logistics ruled that it would be much easier with travelling such a distance if the dog went to Gay McKenna for the Derby with Noel in agreement. However, it would be an incomplete accreditation should his name not arise when that victory is recalled.

Now with his name in print as a classic winner for all time, Noel reports that Coolavanny Bingo has already started his stud duties which began with the mating of Shane O’Gorman’s Intense Focus on Thursday last. Standing with the Dunphy’s in Portlaw, he reports that there is presently six more bitches booked in, but not for this coming Friday! The Derby winner will be paraded at his local Kingdom Greyhound Stadium in Tralee before the Juvenile Classic commences.

Following this, and after Coolavanny Mason makes his race debut, there is a Derby celebration night planned in Castleisland which will take place between three pubs! All adjacent on the main street, The Kingdom, Browne’s and the Poets Inn will host the party and all will be needed as Noel offers an open invitation to anyone who would like to join in his celebration. Expressly thanking the officials, Judges and slippers along with all at the Sporting Press for their kind words in publications before and after Clonmel, he hopes anyone that can make the journey, will.

“Ah sure I’m going around trying to cover it up half the time but I’m emotional. I’m on a high and I will be now til I die!”

We salute that 10 year old child who once bitten by the Powerstown bug, carved a future in greyhounds and thank a father who was willing to indulge his interest and facilitate that first trip to the National Meeting. For he did not just bring us another classic winning trainer with a great champion or a story of success that will keep many more dreamers endeavouring to emulate the achievements of his supremely talented son. He also brought us one of those people we repeatedly talk about……..the ones that make this sport the greatest of all! Thank you Din-Joe Browne!




We can McCall Mulboy a truly deserving King

To fill the criteria to be labelled a true champion of any sport one must be prepared to take on all comers and defeat the very best class of rival on a consistent basis. There are no hiding places when seeking to reach the pinnacle of sporting achievement and when Mulboy King completed his Kevin Smith Champion Stakes campaign with victory over Wizard Matthew on Sunday evening at Powerstown Park, an entire coursing community could rest easy in the full knowledge that our new champion could wear the crown with pride having tick every box to be remembered as a truly deserving winner.

Owned by Patrick McCall in Dungannon, he delivered and early birthday present, as he will turn eighty years of age next month, for the Tyrone native who has been travelling to Clonmel for 40 of those years. Trained by his son, a delighted Conor McCall exclaims, “He’s a brilliant dog, he ran a stormer didn’t he?!”

“It’s brilliant for all the family. I train him but really the whole family is involved really with my brothers John and Michael along with nephews Mark and Matthew. We’re delighted for dad. He’s going to Clonmel since the mid 70’s but we really only got serious with the coursing dogs with this fellow’s dam. She went to the final of the Spirit Of Mischief in 2012 and she was the first coursing bred greyhound we ever had. We had runners before that but they would have been track bred.

“I told em all last year that I thought I had the best dog in Ireland, it was astounding what he was doing in gallops. I can remember the clockmen telling me that Mulboy Branan was flying when he won the Trial Stake at Old Kilcullen last year and I telling them that I had a dog at home beating him five lengths!

“We didn’t manage to win a Trial Stake with him, the backend of the season didn’t go to plan for him after he was beaten by Blades Of Hope in Castletown Geoghan but in fairness that was no disgrace at the time. He has turned a brilliant dog and for all we know, they might be the best two dogs in the country.

“The whole season went very much to plan with him this year and he never had an injury thank god. He’s a fantastic looking dog at 95lb and the darkest brindle you ever saw, almost black! It was suggested that we stay up local here for his first outing of the season but I wanted to go to Glin for the big points and the prizemoney and sure he ran brilliant, beating a good dog in the final, Arcade Maximus. He loves a rise in the ground and he really showed it there.

“Getting himself and Branan to the final then next time at New Ross was ideal. It gave Mulboy King enough points at that stage and was a great start for Branan who was fresher at the time, being his first outing. It was disappointing the way he went out at Clonmel but he has done nothing wrong all season either. I thought he was at his very best in Borris In Ossory this year. That was a good Cup to win when you look at the quality of entry and he’ll go on now to the Irish Cup, sure he hardly had a gallop even in Clonmel.”

Hailing from Dungannon, achieving the points for a Champion Stakes tilt with two contenders means clocking up the mileage for the McCall family but Conor justifies the long journey’s very simply saying, “you don’t mind travelling when you have something in the back! Ah they are both very good travellers. The minute you close the back door and make it dark, they’re down and they are the very same between courses.

“I have to thank Bobby and all the Kennedy family though at Tivoli kennels in Clonmel. The dogs have boarded with them on many occasions during the year, including Clonmel. They have been a great help and it would not have been possible without them. It’s great that the dogs had no distance to travel during the festival and it stood to Mulboy King. It all went smoothly although he did give a bit of yelp getting into the van on Saturday evening after the first run. I don’t know why but he wasn’t injured, he just got a good hard rubbing and was skipping on Sunday morning”.

Naturally the big question to ask Conor was, will both dogs be going to the Irish Cup and he confirms that both are runners at this present moment. “Yeah at the moment both are going. I’m not one hundred percent about Mulboy King yet though. He just lost a touch of condition over Clonmel. Now he only lost a pound or two and he’s fine, it’s just that the next couple of weeks will have to go right for him. We have to start preparing now and Branan in particular wants a bit of work to be fully ready but for now you can say both are going”.

The McCall family are enjoying a wonderfully successful period at present and are preparing their attempt to continue the purple patch into the future. Mulboy Girl who has unfortunately missed twice in her last two mating attempts is hopefully now in pup to Kyle James while her only daughter, Mulboy Emma has been mated to Kilkeale Hero and both exciting litters are due next month, all going well.

While Conor is immensely proud of the kennels recent achievements, he retains a huge modesty about Mulboy King and his new status as champion of the sport. When asked about the long term future and his prospects as a stud dog it was clear that he not given it huge thought but he did reply with, “I think he’s entitled to go to stud, what do you think?”

I quickly concurred with his assertion as such an impressive and naturally fast champion should of course be made available to breeders and Conor simply continued, “Ah sure we’ll see next year. It’s just grand to have one good one to be able to even think about it!”





Carr’s drive home the verdict in T.A. Morris

“I hope you’re ringing me again when Clonmel is over”! The most common wish repeated by winning connections when conducting an interview following Trial Stake success. So it was with great anticipation that I again dialled the number of David Carr, to congratulate him and his family on a superbly impressive T.A. Morris victory by Howdododo (Johnny Casanova/Your Symbolic).
The Co.Carlow qualifier leaves Clonmel with the respect of an entire Coursing community having displayed all the attributes to be a big force on the All Age circuit but that campaign will begin next season and not in the upcoming Irish Cup as David declares, “I think it would be a bit unfair to ask him for any more this season!”

“We’re very proud, absolutely delighted with him. If I’m honest, we didn’t really expect him to be that good. You know yourself we always liked him and we did start to believe he could be very good after the way he ran in Templetuohy but still he improved more and ran brilliant.”

Only two weeks ago and looking forward to the festival, David prophetically declared that it was “all about the draw at this stage. You could meet a real good one in the first round and you’re out”!
How true his statement proved to be as Howdododo was of course eliminated by the Derby winner Coolavanny Bingo in the opening round on Friday afternoon, but only by a length!

“Yeah you do for moment look back and think what if? But then maybe we wouldn’t have gone on to win it even if we did get through that first course. At the same time though you can look back and say, well it was great to give the winner a fair run for his money. I never met Noel Browne before but he was very gracious and we wished each other luck afterwards and sure it’s great that the two dogs went on to win.

“I think I was most happy with his running from halfway, he was just taking off when he hit the hill. That was great to see in that field. The three days went smoothly enough even though he was a bit tired after the first run but he actually took it very well and he was in better form on Sunday morning than he was on Friday morning, that was great to see.

“To come out of Clonmel with a winner is huge for us as a small kennel. This was the most runners we ever had for a season and we’ll be busy again next year now. It’s just great to have a dog for next year that can go anywhere with a chance. You know like, you’re only looking for one good dog to get the whole thing going for you.

“I’m delighted for my dad, Kevin, most of all. This is the first big win for the family since his uncle, Mickey Carr, won the Oaks in 1933 with Cutlets Turn. He’s the main man and he’s on cloud nine after it all. I have to thank him for everything. I wouldn’t get to experience all this without him. All of us too have to thank Brendan Farrelly and his family for allowing us to use their gallop and for all the other help they give us. We work together all the time really, a great doggy relationship”.

The victory of Howdododo brings to an end, the wonderful puppy season that the Carr family enjoyed with four qualifying for the festival from this litter and David expressed his pride at how all four performed. Kilucan Winnie exited the Oaks in round 2 while Killucan Rose raised two flags in the Kitty Butler Stake. Killucan Ralph too performed with great credit in the Derby when defeated in round 2 by Black Barracuda and he will now be entered for the Irish Cup.

Owned by the Cheese And Chips syndicate, which was named under the influence of alcohol in a Clonmel fast food restaurant during a previous festival, fellow members Declan Carr, Leo Walsh and Tom Price share David’s pride at the performance of the kennel star and they will this week relive the glory as David explains.

“Well you don’t get to see much with four runners, only your own courses really. So the DVD will be arriving Tuesday and we’re all going to sit down together and watch the whole thing. Ah sure you could be waiting forever to have another Clonmel winner so we’ll enjoy it to the last”.

The hit tv comedy show, Mrs Brown’s Boys, will now forever bring up Clonmel memories when Brendan O’Carroll answers the phone in the title role with his trademark…….Howdododo?!




How can you Do with four for Clonmel!

In the final week before the Clonmel Coursing Festival, dialling a busy owner or trainer’s phone number is approached with a touch of trepidation in the fear that you might be disturbing the extensive preparations of classic hopefuls. Such was the case ahead of a frank and gratefully accommodating conversation with David Carr of the Cheese And Chips syndicate as he and his dad, trainer Kevin Carr, prepare four festival runners including the strong Derby contender Howdododo (Johnny Casanova/Your Symbolic).

Currently quoted at 20/1, it would be hard for any bookmaker to risk the Co.Carlow Trial Stake winner at more generous odds for his form in victory there holds up to intense scrutiny when considered that he defeated three subsequent winners on route to his Derby pass. Millstreet winner Drive On Smokey gave way in round 3 before Co.Kerry qualifier Wallace Banner in the semi-final and the victory of his final victim Coshair Oggie at Mooncoin added yet more substance to the Co.Carlow form.

A Trial Stake winner herself at Balbriggan, dam Your Symbolic is also owned by the syndicate which includes, Declan Carr, Leo Walsh and Tom Price. She has produced the kennels four qualifiers from this mating to Johnny Casanova, two each for the Derby and Oaks. Shortest priced of those is Howdododo and his supporters will welcome the declaration by Declan that he is ready to do himself justice in the big one.

“He’s in good order. We’ve had no setbacks with him and the season couldn’t have gone much more smoothly for him really. We always knew he was able to run a bit but it was brilliant that he was able to go and win first time out. He was forward enough for Carlow at the time I suppose and he had a trial there before the meeting but it is great to see the way the form has worked out so well. I did kind of suspect it at the time, this looks hot enough and you just knew it was highly likely that the ones he met on the second day could go on and win a Trial Stake, I said as much to the connections of Drive On Smokey after the quarter-final.

“He got it easy for a while then before we put him up in the Premier Cup at Templetuohy which was his first time off the lead in anger since Carlow. He had a handy few gallops alright but not much. I thought he ran a lovely first course there and was in the process of doing the same in the second round if the hare had stayed straight but in reality it didn’t matter all that much to us, the two spins were just perfect for him at that stage.”

Beating Freshford All Age winner Sudden Cas in that opening round, Howdododo only served to enhance his Derby credentials even further and appeared that he could certainly have been a leading player in the Cup but his withdrawal from a round 2 re-run came as no surprise and would turn out to be his final public act before Clonmel.

“He won’t go for a trial in Powerstown. Honestly, it’s not difficult to keep him ticking over at home. He runs with his eyes outside his head, gives everything. Templetuohy was enough to keep him on track so we’ll leave it at that.

The kennels also qualified Killucan Ralph for the Derby at Dundalk who is owned by David’s son Jamie. “When the pups were born Jamie took a shine to this fellow and nicknamed him Ralph at the time. Once he was attached then that was it, he wanted him and fair play the rest of the lads allowed it. He has done well, improving all season. He got a setback in Old Kilcullen and he was sore when we withdrew him on Sunday morning but he got the job done well in Dundalk, you could only be pleased with him. Still, I’d have him as an outsider.”

Killucan Winnie, owned by David and Killucan Rose for Declan Carr will represent the kennels in the Oaks and David offers those looking for clues a pointer, when declaring that the latter would be his choice for the deepest run.

“I do think the Westmeath United winner, Rose, is the stronger of the two bitches although dad thinks Winnie is a bit of a dark horse. We actually doubted that she was Trial Stake material in the beginning but she just kept improving and was a decent enough winner at Balbriggan. Sure who knows, he could be right yet, Clonmel is a completely different challenge than any of them have faced so far.”
All four runners from the Carr kennels are in different ownership names and they have resisted the temptation to alter that situation and ensure seeding, choosing instead to let fate dictate the draw. A superbly high achieving litter, Your Symbolic will not have runners to contest the classics next season but is booked for a mating with Newinn Wonder presently.

“We’ve had a great season. We’d be lucky if we had one winner every 4 or 5 years before this and then this Christmas you’re coming home practically every weekend with a winner, sure it’s like a dream come true. We’ll do our best for them all but so much depends on the draw at this stage. You could meet a hotpot in the first round and you’re gone. We’ll take it as it comes and hope for a bit of luck.”




Clodagh gets elected to Oaks at Dungarvan

Each season the Trial Stake campaigns sees high achieving litters promote themselves to the top of the respective betting markets ahead of the classics and earns a place among the elite of the breeding paddocks for their dam. This year, Intense Focus has produced a brilliant crop of contenders from her mating with Kingsmill Dynamo, seeing two of her progeny reach the Corn Na Feile final at Abbeyfeale and her Clonmel assault is strengthened yet further by the Deise Banner Syndicate’s Dungarvan Oaks qualifier Clodagh River.

As the syndicate name suggests, Clodagh River has owners from both Waterford and Clare but the Oaks contender is not the only border bridging connection as two prominent syndicate members are also united under the Fine Gael political banner with sitting TD’s Joe Carey of Clarecastle and Paudie Coffey of Waterford among the five strong ownership.

Beginning her career on Joe’s side of the country, Clodagh River raised two flags at Killimer Kilrush but found the necessary improvement when next appearing at Dungarvan, getting the better of a tight final buckle with subsequent Templetuohy winner Donegal Tina, having previously defeated Tilly The Tank who went on to score at Mooncoin.

Despite being contacted on a busy Wednesday for the pair at Leinster House, both were happy to chat about the upcoming festival with Assistant Chief Whip Joe Carey exclaiming “It’s a huge thrill to have a qualifier and all of us are very much looking forward to it. Along with myself and Paudie there is my own dad Donal, Jodie Halpin and Shane O’Gorman who bred the litter and looks after the bitch for Mark Prescott.

“They’re a very good litter when you consider what Melting Pot and Parlour Game achieved in Abbeyfeale but I can remember being very impressed with Power Game last year too when he lost out to Timmie Trickibow at Miltown Malbay. It’s great for Shane, he’s a superstar the way he looks after Intense Focus and sure we’re very lucky to have the opportunity with a pup out of her.

“Winning at Dungarvan was a big one for Paudie being so close to home and we have to thank John Browne for having her in top shape. He’s a brilliant trainer and there would be no stone unturned with him or any of the family, the attention to detail is phenomenal.”

Joe attributes his interest in coursing to dad Donal and is proud of the deep tradition in his home constituency, particularly in his native Clarecastle. “My dad is in dogs basically all his life so I couldn’t miss it and sure we’ve had some great successes locally. The Derby win for Murtys Gang in particular was a big one for Clarecastle with Anthony Daly and Tommy Howard but sure we’re steeped in coursing here thank god.

“I’ve had track dogs also myself with Gerry Griffin and Jerry Holian but I did have a Clonmel qualifier once before when Pat Curtin trained Ibrickane Pat to win a Derby Trial Stake at Galway & Oranmore for the Quilty syndicate that also involved Dinny Gould. Ah sure it’s great to be going back with a runner again and Clodagh River is a new venture I suppose, kind of bringing the two counties together.

“Listen, we’ll travel in hope. Things have gone well so far and we’ve been lucky. She’s over her season so that worked out well for us. We’ll go and have the craic and the banter, it’s not too often you win a Trial Stake and I’ve no need to tell your readers that it’s a special atmosphere, we’re determined to enjoy it!”

An extremely obliging Joe then made his way along the corridors of Leinster House and rang me back while handing the phone to Minister of State at the Department of the Environment Paudie Coffey who echoed the praise already heaped on trainer John Browne before expressing his delight at returning to the festival with a runner. 

“Oh we’re delighted, really looking forward to it now. It’s a big one for me because it’s the first one since my dad Pat passed in 2002. He was coursing all his life and was chairman of the home club Waterford. Growing up, the only day I’d ever get off school would be to go to Powerstown Park. He had one Trial Stake winner himself back the years with Clodagh Ash but Shane O’Gorman gave a long time walking our dogs at home so to be involved with Shane in this bitch is very special.

“I had a great rearing growing up around doggy people and on the day that’s in it I want to mention the Power family of the Markets kennels who were close family friends for as long as I can remember. We sponsor a stake at the home meeting every year for the Pat Coffey & Tessie Power Memorial Cup. My dad travelled the country with Tom and his wife Tessie for years and years. I was at his funeral this morning and your watching him laid to rest while we’re all getting ready for another Clonmel, it would just set you thinking. We’re the next generation now and with great coursing people like Tom gone, it’s about time we get stuck in and keep the whole thing going, get another 100 years out of it!

“Still, come Friday the Deise Banner syndicate will be out in force and we’ll have a good crowd with us. We’d usually be fighting over Hurling and shouting against each other but this time we’ll stand together and roar Clodagh River up the field!”

On completion of these lively doggy chats it struck that neither TD had even entertained a political angle on any aspect of the article and it was reassuring that maybe even in Dail Eireann, dogs come first! That certainly looks to be the case for these two representatives in their last working days before Clonmel 2016.

View the Photos HERE




Chevalto has a sixth sense in Macroom OTS

Perseverance, commitment, a refusal to give up. All are required attributes when seeking a place in a Powerstown Park classic and all were displayed in abundance when the game Chevalto (Kyle King/Amys View) earned her Oaks ticket at last call in Macroom’s last chance saloon on her sixth outing of the season. Delivering a first Trial Stake victory for Tom Houlihan of Ballyduff, she rewarded his patience not only throughout the 2015/16 season but over a thirty year period in search of a Clonmel runner.

Owned in partnership with his granddaughter Chloe Horgan, her wait has not been so arduous at the tender age of just three and Tom reveals that she will be making the trip to Clonmel in support of her Oaks contender. “Oh she’s going alright. Her birthday actually falls on that weekend so she’s just about to turn four and she is well up on it all. She understands everything about what’s happening in the Coursing. When we got home and told her that the bitch had won her two courses on the first day she announced that if she wins a greyhound cup, I want it!”

“Ah sure we’re all delighted, it was a long time coming. I’m thirty years trying and the best up to this was a win in the Working Members Stake at Ballyduff, a good few years back.”

Beginning at Abbeydorney, Chevalto was defeated in round 2 before failing at the first hurdle in Listowel but found an improved performance when raising two flags at Tom’s home meeting, Ballyduff. However with benefit of hindsight he suspects that these early outings may have been overshadowed by injury and admits that he probably should have withdrawn her from her fourth entry at Lixnaw. 

“Looking back, I’d say she was carrying something or other all through the early past of the season and I wasn’t fully happy going to Lixnaw but sure when you’re after requesting the club for a run and they put you in, well I just didn’t want to let them down by pulling her out.

“I have to thank my neighbours Michael, William and John Houlihan who came on board during the season and helped out with her training. I work the day job six days a week with Kerry Group and she was only being galloped at the weekends really so the lads were getting a bit done with her during the week and in fairness it brought her on a mile. Between that now and Mick Galvin putting her right, she had really picked up before the Co.Kerry meeting at Tralee. She was in great form and ran much better, reaching the semi-final. The slip was shortish enough when she got beaten and she got a bit of work but she was bouncing after it, came away very fresh.

“Sure we were mad to give it one more go then and we tormented everyone we could to get into Macroom. I have to thank them for the entry, we are very grateful. We thought we wouldn’t make at all though with black ice on the roads and I have to thank P Mulvihill who braved the icy roads with me on both days and was a great help.

“She ran very well all the way through and showed more improvement again. I watched her two comrades win the Trial Stakes at Lixnaw and you would be thinking to yourself at that stage, maybe this one should be doing better, so it’s just great that we got her to win and make it three from the litter for William & Marie Costello.”

“Sure it was pure luck that we ended up buying her in the first place. My son Kieran bought a track pup at the time but we had nothing to rear with him so we had just been discussing that we would buy something. Within the hour, Marie had rang Kieran to pup an advert up online for the pups out of Amys View and I says there you are, sure we’ll have one of them. That was Chevalto of course and now it has led to our first Trial Stake winner, pure luck!

As with most in the sport, the dogs are a family effort with the Houlihan’s and along with Kieran, Tom heaps praise on wife Evelyn. “Oh she’s a busy woman with pups and grandchildren running around her, we’d be lost without her!

Track racers are an ever present in the kennels with Tom modestly claiming to have a won “a few small races on the track” but the kennel has recently seen the arrival of a very interesting Coursing litter which originated from friendship with the family of the late Patrick O’Connor of Leigh fame.
Tom explains, “Kieran got a dog off the O’Connor family after Patrick passed, Kerrygold Duffer (Mafi Magic/Leigh Musical). He went to the semi-final of the Baily Cup at Co.Kerry for him but he raced on the track after and actually put up one of the fastest sprint clocks of the year at Tralee. He was sold after that but the O’Connor’s also offered Kieran his dam for breeding, Leigh Musical.

“We had intended to visit Kyle James with her but when tested, we were told her bloods were all wrong and she actually had a cyst on her ovary so being honest, it was too much of a chance to be paying a sizable stud fee as we were told that she would most likely have no pups. We were also told however that a very fresh young stud dog might have some hope of working on her and I never seen it before but she stayed in season for nearly 4 weeks so she was mated with Tom O’Connors Gift Razor.

“I saw him winning his Trial Stake down here in Ballyduff, beating With Grim Intent in the final but he never got to contest the Derby after. The mating worked anyway and we have 1 dog and 4 bitches just arrived the other day. Now there’s some more luck for you, maybe things are starting to change altogether!”




Marshal lays down law at Ballymena

Keeping the dream of training a classic winner alive means clocking up the mileage in search of an elusive Trial Stake victory but happy to hit the road one more time this season is Declan McCambridge from his Co.Antrim kennels after General Marshal (Razor Ashmore/Ravel Glory) converted his highly promising early season form into an impressive victory in Ballymena’s Derby Trial Stake.

Owned by his son Conor McCambridge, General Marshal was winning on his third outing of the season at Ballymena and had been defeated by the outright winner in both of his previous appearances. Fergal explains, “he started off in East Donegal and ran very well throughout. He was showing serious early pace in all his courses and he led for a good part of the semi-final but it went a long way up the field before he just got caught at the top. Still, we were very happy with him for a first outing.

“We went next to Castletown Geoghan and ran into the winner again there in the second round, Collossal Ranger. I don’t wish to take anything away from that dog, he was a good winner but we just thought we had probably got our fellow out a little to soon after East Donegal. He’s a big dog, over 100 lbs so he was always going to need time and I actually always saw him as next year’s dog. He was just staying that bit green and taking a long time to shake that off.

“Thankfully he was beginning to learn his trade by the time Ballymena came around and in fairness he won it well. He was much better on his hare which was good to see and we’re all just delighted with the win, we got a bit of luck before it was all over thank god. It’s easy say it when you win but it was a great meeting, good hares, good slipping and a very good turn out which was great to see.

“He’s in good form after it all and it’s probably just as well that he won’t need too much work between now and Clonmel because we’re under six inches of snow here right now. The walking machine is all he’s getting at the minute, just keeping him ticking over!”

Fergal already has plans in place for kenneling General Marshal over the festival and is grateful to Shari-Anne & Jim O’Donnell for the use of their facilities and admits that making long journeys throughout the season is just something you must accept when Coursing up north!

“Well if you want to be involved in Coursing up here, that’s the commitment you have to make. None of the early season meetings up this end of the country held trials this year so our first big spin was to Glin for a trial with this fellow. He definitely needed it, so it had to be done. I can remember travelling all the way to Liscannor once and losing a semi-final toss, just to turn around and drive all the way home again! We’ll make one more long trip before the big day, we will go for a Trial in Clonmel during the week with him.”

Bred by Fergal, General Marshal is a first Trial Stake winner for his talented dam Ravel Glory who vied for favouritism ahead of the 2012 Oaks following her supremely impressive Trial Stake win at East Donegal before withdrawn from the the final of Mooncoin’s All Age Bitch Stake in her puppy season. Losing out to eventual Oaks winner Dale Roisin was no disgrace in the third round at Clonmel and she went on to claim All Age victory at Enniscorthy the following season. Without pups on the ground for next year, she is booked in for mating with Adios Alonso in the very near future!

“She was a great bitch for us and it’s great to get her breeding career of the mark with this fellow but I had given her to Davy Graham for training a few weeks before her Trial Stake win so General Marshal will be the first Clonmel runner that I have handled myself. Conor is 16 years old now and he has had great fun collecting Ravel Glory at the top of the field and now this fellow. That’s all priceless for a young lad like him and he’s full steam ahead preparing again. The Friday is booked off school and the teachers will even be keeping in touch to see how the dog’s going!

“We’ll head for Clonmel with all guns blazing. And sure you know yourself, it’s not just myself and Conor involved, it’s the whole family really. I’ll have my own father with me and he never had a runner in Clonmel before so it’s exciting for everyone. We’ll take whatever comes but hopefully he’ll go well. He is improving all the time and sure whatever happens we’ll enjoy it!”




Squaw joins the Northern raid in Ballymena Oaks

Greeting friends and watching the handshakes of those who may not have met since the festival of twelve months prior. Walking the line of bookmakers up and down in search of the best price on your chosen fancy or a special one for me, the announcement over the public address “the official time of the meeting is now!” Each greyhound is viewed in a different light than any other meeting throughout the year for now every one you see is a winner and you just know you’re in a unique place on special occasion that can only be the opening morning of the Clonmel Coursing Festival.

One further realisation, and a reassuring one is the unavoidable dulcet tones of Northern Ireland accents at every turn as the annual pilgrimage from across the border swells Powerstown Park with faithful followers and classic challengers. Like vikings they come with intent, to return home with a champion and plunder more than the odd bookies satchel in the process!

A recipient of this substantial support in 2016 will be Fergal O’Donnell’s Choctaw Squaw (Johnny Casanova/Dungill) having gained her Oaks ticket on a last gasp attempt in Ballymena’s qualifier of last weekend. Yet another first time winning owner in a season that has produced many, Fergal is still allowing the victory to sink in as he exclaims, “We couldn’t believe it sure on Sunday when she won. We keep trackers mostly and I wouldn’t be seen as a Coursing trainer as such. We might buy a couple every few years or so when the track numbers are low and we know that we’ll have the space.

“Sure even last weekend like, you pull into the field and there’s all these big trainers and faces that you know with their big kitted out vans. And there’s us with the bitch in the back of the estate car and a blanket over the window. You just don’t realistically expect to win even though you’re hopeful and you know the bitch is decent. It’s massive for us really!

Choctaw Squaw was winning on her fourth outing and Fergal of Coalisland in Co.Tyrone explains the entire season did not go swimmingly! Well we knew she was decent almost from her first gallop. My best track dog at the time was open class, Choctaw Blue, and she led him the first time I galloped them together. I was shocked and even took the dog to the vet to get him checked out!

“She started off in Edenderry and won her first course well before beaten in the second round but she had done a shoulder. We withdrew her out of the second round then the next time out in Freshford, she was after doing damage to metacarpals. We obviously couldn’t gallop then for a while but I was taking her down to Lough Neagh to swim her. After the first go, she absolutely loved it. She’d nearly pull you in to the water with her if you hadn’t a good hold and if you let go she’d be gone, she’d swim across to Antrim. She never wants to come out of it!

“Dundalk was next and you could see she was starting to really improve. She wants it long but she got beat in the semi-final and I wouldn’t be making any excuses but it was very heavy, wet going everywhere that weekend and she seemed to be coming with a run but just hit some standing water that took the sting out of it. Still, we were happy enough with her performance.

“Thank god then we were able to get her into Ballymena and I’m very grateful to the club for everything. She showed more improvement there again and we’re absolutely delighted with the win although it’s not the way you would choose to win a final. Staceys My Girl broke her leg winning the other semi-final and we are all very disappointed here for her connections, it’s just not a nice way to win, very unfortunate.

“She’s in great fettle after it. She was with Brian Jones to get checked over and she has the total OK. We won’t have to do much with her between now and Clonmel, just keep her sound hopefully. Sure it’s all such a new situation for us, having to sort out kennels in Clonmel and everything that goes with it. People are great and already we have had offers of places to keep her but we’re just letting it all sink in for now and sort things out next week.”

The “we” that Fergal refers to throughout the conversation while including all the family at home, primarily refers to father-in-law Michael Gervin. Working together with their track dogs for many years, Michael is heavily involved with the training of Choctaw Squaw aswel as owning a litter sister who endured a luckless campaign this season.

“We bought two bitches out of the litter from Joe Dunphy and it was actually all done over the phone. Joe was telling me the colours of them and between us we picked out two. He said they were the first pups he ever sold without the buyer seeing them first. I arranged transport and they arrived to us at about five months old. They were in fabulous condition and so obviously very well reared. Michael owns the sister Wee Eggs and she’s fairly decent herself but she got a hunt before reaching the semi-final at Cavan and has had her problems all season but she’ll hopefully have a good All Age campaign next year.

“Michael is retired and enjoys doing all the walking with Choctaw Squaw. If it’s a good day you might not see him back for hours, stopping for chats along the way. That’s grand for the Coursing dogs but he could have the legs walked off the trackers! He has had track dogs for many years but this is actually going to be his first time going to Clonmel so as you can imagine, it’s a bit special.”

Fergal calls Dungannon his home meeting and catches hares with the club when not busy supporting his son Che who will be known to GAA fans as a talented footballer who narrowly missed out on an All Ireland Minor winning medal with Tyrone in 2012 when losing out to Mayo by a solitary point. All the track dogs in the kennel bear Che’s name but like Choctaw Squaw at Clonmel, they are all in reality family owned and they will travel in force to support their first Clonmel classic challenger this year.

“I go practically every year. I can actually only remember missing it once but Friday morning is going to be a very different feeling this time around. The build up has been on almost from the minute she won her semi-final at Ballymena with people coming over to congratulate us and you know that they really mean every bit of it. It’s just a different sport. I have a good friend in Michael McElhatton of Premier Fantasy and Tina Marina fame who would be busy with his Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown. He had said he wouldn’t make to Clonmel but if I had a qualifier, he would arrange to go, so now he’s going!

“The bitch has done us proud now and anything else that comes will be a bonus. She’s improving all the time and the one thing she has always wanted is a long field. The further she goes up that hill, the more she’ll like it. Irrespective of how she goes in Clonmel, she’ll contest All Ages next year and go on to be a brood before she lives out her years here with at home with us!”




Tuohy crew will Get Stuck In at the festival

The village of Templetuohy in Tipperary is, by self confession, Coursing mad and with their own annual meeting just passed, attentions have now turned to the National Coursing Festival at Clonmel where they will this year have two Derby contenders to support following the game Trial Stake victory of Brendan Everard’s Get Stuck In (Adios Alonso/Aslee Annie) at Borrisoleigh over the Christmas period.

Trained by Brendan and registered in his name, he explains that he actually is joint owned with life long friend Donny Maher of Borrisoleigh. “Well myself and Donny bought two dogs out of the litter from Paddy Donovan and at the time it was just easier to put one in each of our names but this fellow will go to Clonmel in both our names, he’s as much Donny’s as mine! Sure we train him together too, Donny is a rock for me in the kennels so we’re absolutely delighted. Any day you win a Trial Stake, you have to be happy!”

Get Stuck In began his career at Crohane when injury led to a withdrawal from the second round and Brendan explains that the early part of his campaign was affected by persistent problems. “He had a re-run in the first round at Crohane and injured a toe so I withdrew him there but he went to Nenagh then and got beaten in the third round. He got beat by a decent dog but four lengths was too much and it turned out that he had damaged a shoulder. We went to work on all that and got him out again at Rathdowney but ran he for the crowd in the first round!

“Thank god things went a bit better at Borrisoleigh and he ran well all the way through. He’s not a big dog, somewhere between 78 to 80 lbs. He’s tidy and compact but he has a good auld heart in him. He came out of it great. I had planned to give him a decent bit of a rest but I had to start galloping him back sooner just to keep him quiet he’s so well in himself.”

Joining Dinny Kelly & Tom Skehan in the classic, who qualified their Cranorchard at Regional, Brendan was as happy for these close friends then as he is for himself and Donny now! Stopping into Everard’s Pub in the village following the recent Templetuohy meeting, it was not surprising to find Brendan and Dinny deep in conversation on adjoining high stools where I learned that their friendship was cemented through their years hurling for the Moyne-Templetuohy club.

Exclaims Brendan, “Sure that’s where the name comes from, all the roaring and bawling inside at full back, Get Stuck In! Big Dinny never had to be told that twice and I tell you it’s a good thing that Tommy Skehan never hurled. Now a sounder man you could not meet but he’d dig a grave in a quarry with a pick and shovel, the strength of him, there wouldn’t have been a man safe!

Both are very proud of their achievements winning two County titles and two mid-Tipperary titles for the home club with Brendan playing at midfield, all coming after he had been a hugely high achieving Minor hurler for Tipperary, winning an All Ireland medal along with two Munster Championship medals! Just as his Coursing pedigree, these achievements were not without precedent as his own dad Johnny won Senior Munster & All Ireland titles with Tipperary in 1950 after uncle Mick had won his Minor All Ireland in 1933! 

Both these men carved Brendan’s interest in Coursing from a young age and dad Johnny has given loyal service to the club over a lifetime and at 92 years young now serves as Vice President of the Templetuohy club, attending both days of this year’s meeting with Brendan exclaiming that he would never, ever miss it! Mick Everard, who died a centurion last year at one hundred years of age, served as Chairman of the club for 39 years and was attending his local meeting until the very last of those.

This winner’s mentality has served Brendan well in greyhounds too and although Get Stuck In is the first Trial Stake winner that he has owned himself, he will be his fourth Clonmel classic runner having trained Jet Ski Lass for brothers Sean & Pierce who contested the 2001 Oaks before Inch Hillside qualified for the Derby twelve months on. His deepest run in a classic came in the 2007 Oaks when Hellofalady reached the quarter-finals.

Always held in high esteem by those who know him best, Brendan has a great strike rate at his home meeting and has recorded numerous victories across all stakes with many in the name of Club Chairman and ICC Treasurer John Egan. Putting up a brave defence of his Premier Cup title this year was their Inch Hothead before eliminated at quarter-final stage but completing another successful meeting is always a more primary concern for a proud working member.

“I always enjoy training dogs for John and the family. I couldn’t get it across enough how true a coursing man he is, in every sense. He’s a big influence in the club here but that runs through the whole club in fairness. The entire village comes together for the Coursing whether you have greyhounds or not. We’re all proud as punch with the progress over the last few years. It’s an honour to be part of that club and it will be an honour to represent them at Clonmel, hopefully we can give them a run for their money!”

Offering little more than that hope by way of a prediction ahead of the Derby, his immediate wish is that he can avoid his good friends in the draw. “The last thing we want is to meet Cranorchard in the first round so other than that, we’ll take whatever comes. I just hope one of them gives us a reason to start a sing-song at some stage because Dinny Kelly is some singer. He would put the hairs standing on the back of your neck with Dan Breen or The Galtee Mountain Boy!”




Banba brings back Mangan memories at Abbeyfeale

Named in the hope that good fortune would shine on her Coursing career, Banba Be Lucky (Johnny Casanova/Oh Banba) finally had lady luck smile on her Trial Stake campaign when attracting huge attention in victory at Abbeyfeale. However, hard work and unrelenting commitment from her owner, Ashley Mangan of Crecora, has surely played a greater part than any divine intervention when nursing her to full fitness having struggled with ill health as a very young pup.

Bred by Ashley, she joins two of her sisters in the Oaks from a litter of six bitches who have all reached the semi-final stage of a Trial Stake, or better. Delighted, she explains “It’s brilliant, we’re celebrating since. It’s a real sense of achievement when you have bred her yourself and Lucky is a real pet. She was very sick as a pup and needed a lot of looking after. She was hand fed for a long time, sleeping in the house and she was the runt of the litter really. Sure nobody picked her out then when they came to see her and sure she’s been like a pet around the place since, she still is! Spoiled rotten!

Lucky was scoring on her fourth outing at Abbeyfeale having previously ran–up at Ballyduff but began her campaign at Limerick City with Ashley explaining, “She turned around in slips and ran up the field a mile behind the other bitch so that wasn’t an ideal start but it was her first time in slips. She ran very well in Ballyduff next time out and might have won only for a good few turns in the semi-final but she still ran a great final just behind a good a winner, so we were still pleased with her.”
Unsighted then in round 1 at North Kilkenny, her next entry would be at a meeting that is very close to Ashley’s heart. Known throughout the entire greyhound community, the passing of her dad Joe Mangan hit the family hard last year. A highly respected vet, his coursing exploits are not remembered by Ashley but she is constantly reminded by old friends of Joe who still tell stories of his Corn Na Feile successes. He trained Banbas Black to victory as the first bitch to win the coveted puppy prize in 1975 having taken both Killinoughty and bitch Killanahan to the final in ’73 with the former landing the spoils.

“Joe always had great memories of Abbeyfeale and it’s great to hear people talking about those wins but we were out of coursing dogs for about thirty years shortly after that. It was great to be back on the road with him over the past few seasons and he was delighted to be back Coursing, the two of us travelling off in the van every weekend. We miss him greatly so winning at Abbeyfeale was a bit emotional.

“She ran great and did win it very well. She ran a great final but sure I was nearly in tears before it even went up, it was brilliant to win there. The Ramble Inn was Joe’s favourite Pub so we went in there to Philip Enright and celebrated it well. She’s perfect after it all, one hundred percent and she’s staying where she is. We had lots of interest from buyers afterwards, with tempting offers! I know I get too emotional and attached but we’ll take her to Clonmel ourselves. We’re a small kennel here and when you’ve bred her yourself, especially with her start in life, it would be hard to see her go to the Oaks without us.”

Ashley refers to the kennels as a small operation and that may be so but their exploits on the Coursing field since venturing back into the sport with Oh Banba in 2011/12 are laudable in the extreme. A present from her well known uncle Peter Mangan, Oh Banba reached the semi-final of the 2012 Oaks, an achievement that was added to by Intacta Banba when he was runner-up in the 2013 Irish Cup.

“They were exciting experiences and sure you might never get them again. Oh Banba was a great bitch and without a hunt on the second day, who knows, might have gone even further. She was the start for us getting back into Coursing and Intacta Banba also came from Peter so it was a real family effort. We’re only about a mile from the racecourse in Patrickswell so it was great to have all the locals cheering him on. We were very proud of him and he’s here at home still, a pet around the house!”

The cheering section for this year’s Oaks is also taking shape. Two of Ashley’s six sisters will be returning home from Boston and London to lend support and Ashley also thanks all the family at home who help out with the dogs. “I have nieces and nephews who all help along with my sisters. Fiona actually had a comrade who went to the semi-final in Waterford on her first outing but unfortunately broke her leg next time.”

Her greatest thanks is however reserved for her Mum Nuala. “I woudn’t be able to do the dogs without her. She does everything during the day while I’m at work and has really taken to the Coursing since we got back into it. She’s been going to all the meetings and she’s just brilliant with the dogs.”

With Oh Banba’s season coming at the wrong time for mating last year, she will not have runners for next year’s classics but is currently in pup to Adios Alonso and is due in a matter of days. Ashley reports that interest is already high for these but fears that she is not heavy with a big litter.

Always suspecting that Banba Be Lucky was talented from her early gallops, Ashley reports her in great form ahead of Clonmel and admits that she is still spoiled rotten. Asked directly about her chances in the Oaks her reply was, “she has a great chance!”. However she quickly began to laugh and added, “if she get’s a bit of LUCK!”

View the photos HERE




Mikey shines More Light on Derby at Galbally

The Lodge car park at Powerstown Park on the morning of Friday January 29th is quite likely to be the most nervous spot in Ireland or anywhere, for the 2016 coursing season has delivered more than it’s fair share of first time Trial Stake winning owners who will sample the unique opening day atmosphere with a classic contender. Ensuring that Michael Flannery of Clerihan, Clonmel will receive his pass through the famous gates for the first time as an owner was See More Lights (Newinn Wonder/Chance Me Betty) when scoring a most game victory in Galbally’s qualifier of last week.

Beginning his career quite late in the season, he was winning in just his second outing and Michael, try as he might, can scarcely contain his joy. “Oh I’m absolutely over the moon. It would always have been a dream come true to win a Trial Stake and that’s what it feels like now. We always knew he was capable of winning one but you’re just there at Galbally, going well and just trying to put all thoughts of winning out of your head! I’m just so glad that it all went the right way.”

See More Lights showed himself to be a talented prospect in his first outing which came at Borris In Ossory in mid December and Michael explains that his late start was down to trainer Declan Byrne. “I of course always knew who Declan was but got to know him a little more personally over the past year or two and actually had asked him to be on the look out for a dog for me. We had a bitch last year but had no luck and he put me on to this fellow for this year. The breeding held up to scrutiny and I actually bought him at Powerstown Park last year and Declan took him home.

“He’s a nicely made dog, not over big and very placid. Declan has him since I bought him and I have to admire his patience. There was no major problem that kept him from coming out, it was just that he didn’t feel he was ready. That man’s attention to detail is astounding and you wouldn’t question him for a minute. He was originally intended to come out earlier but when he did, we were happy with him at Borris In Ossory despite the outcome.

“He went well in his first few rounds but he didn’t get the best of the break from slips in the semi-final in what was a short slip that turned into a heavy hunt. It was far from ideal at the time but looking back, I think I’m kind of glad the way it turned out. Our lad has more experience now and you have to say that it’s fair testament to Declan that he was able to have him so well in himself to go and win at Galbally.

“Like I said already, it was a dream come true to win. My sister Margaret Childs and her family would all have been members and caught hares with the club so it was a bit special to win there. You know, it kind of brings back memories going back for years with all the dogs my parents had and all the dogs we had that weren’t good enough, it’s just brilliant. But it was nerve-wrecking too!

“Two hares passed out in front of himself and Crafty Korozo without being slipped in the final and I was there sweating, will we ever get a run! Then as soon as he slipped to the next one, the hare veered right over to the far side! I suppose, in fairness to the judge, he had to send them back. Then what happens, the next hare went over the same way! Thankfully though this time, the hare made it’s way back towards the middle going up the hill and our fellow was in command. I have to say Brian Divilly and family were very magnanimous in defeat, great sportsmanship!

“We had great celebrations in Galbally afterwards and it has to be said, they are a great club. How they got through the meeting with the weather conditions was just a credit to them. There’s no better people in Coursing than that club and their hospitality was fantastic. They were delighted for us and you just know that they’ll be supporting us in Clonmel too, I can’t thank them enough.”
Michael’s joy and his pride that the family CV will now carry a Trial Stake winner, is abundantly clear throughout the conversation and with his long history in greyhounds coming through his parents, he may be carving a similar path for his son Mikey who is credited with naming this Derby contender.

“We were coming home from visiting the pup and I had Mikey with me and when pulling in, the sensor lights came on. Sure to a four year old young lad, they were like magic and I actually had the naming form out when Mikey was roaring to go back out and see more of the lights! So he named him and when we got home with the Cup after Galbally, he grabbed it and wanted to take it outside to see more lights!

Making no predictions about his Derby chances, Michael signs off simply. “We’re looking forward to Clonmel and sure I suppose the draw is everything really before you can even think about what might happen. We’re not bullish but we do like him and the litter is talented with three qualified for the Derby. Declan says he is in great form after it all and there’s one thing you can be sure of, he will have him in perfect order to take his chance!”



Co.Kerry OTS

Minnie returns home to claim Co.Kerry Oaks ticket

It may have taken five outings for Downton Minnie (Adios Alonso/Chubbys Excel) to finally gain her coveted ticket for the Oaks but a coursing campaign can be an arduous one with many complications along the way and this impressive Co.Kerry qualifier can be accused of dramatic timing for she reserved her best performance to record a home win, in front of her biggest cheering section of the season.

Registered in the ownership of Eamon O’Sullivan with his daughter Kristin, Downton Minnie is in reality family owned by the O’Sullivan’s whose homestead lies within throwing distance of Ballybeggan Park in Tralee and Mum Caroline exclaims that winning at their home meeting was a “magical feeling”.

“Oh we are very happy this week, we’re still over the moon. It’s just one of the best feelings. We bought her as a pup and she was reared here, only 100 yards from the racecourse! She is trained by Denis O’Driscoll who has just done a brilliant job but we were collecting her at the weekend and sure she still knows us, she has a lovely nature!

“I suppose she has had a long enough campaign. She started in Kilflynn and got beat in the third round there but she was withdrawn from the third round in Abbeydorney next time because she had a very heavy hunt in the second course. She had a break to Knockgraffon then and got beat in the first round by the eventual winner, so there was no disgrace in that I suppose but Denis wasn’t happy with her when getting beat in the first round at Mitchelstown next time and sure enough she had a shoulder problem.

“Thankfully Denis was able to get her over that and with the timing of everything, the home meeting fell perfect for one last throw of the dice. We had a busy Christmas here with family home from Brazil, Canada and cousins from Thurles down for St Stephen’s day. There was about twenty people in all, about half of whom were never at coursing, so we had great support anyhow and that was on top of the brilliant support from within the club.

“The whole weekend was like a local celebration and there was great craic on both nights of the coursing. Even our local publican Damien Roche was summoned to come on Sunday and sing the National Anthem when they realised on Saturday night that there was no-one to sing it! And then sure on top of it all you had Tobar Na Molt winning the Kingdom Cup which was just amazing. I was beside Jonathan Best near the bottom of the field watching the course and we were wondering if she got up but Michael Field says to Jonathan, I don’t think they’d be cheering like that if you got beat! The atmosphere was brilliant!”

It would not be totally accurate to call this victory for Downton Minnie, a first Trial Stake success but it is the first that has been owned outright by this generation of the O’Sullivan family. Caroline is a core member of the Redondo Syndicate who many will recognise as owners of superbly talented runners Camarillo Blonde, who disputed favouritism for the 2013 Oaks and Mr Blonde who was also out of dam, Chubbys Excel and who is presently enjoying his retirement on the O’Sullivan family farm.

However, their coursing history stretches back much further and has classic winning precedence, for the Redondo syndicate name is drawn directly from Paddy Collins’s, Caroline’s grandfather, victory in the 1956 Oaks with Redondo Beach and for one family relative, this current Trial Stake win bears many similarities.

“This win is kind of history making for the family I suppose being the first one for so long. It is great to have a classic winner in the family but my dad Frank Foran tried for many years and never won one, although he did nominate three Kingdom Cup winners! But back then when my grandfather won the Oaks, all the family were gone to Clonmel, except my aunt Josephine Collins. Someone had to stay at home and she drew the short straw. She would have to cycle to the Post Office each evening to receive the phone call for the news of how the bitch got on and then cycle round to all the relatives and friends to tell them. So we were all together last weekend with Josephine being home from Brazil but with so many young kids around, someone had to stay home and mind them. No prizes for guessing, it was Josephine again. Well all we got was, Oh yeah, the same as 60 years ago, I’m the one that has to miss the coursing!

A proud member of the Co.Kerry Coursing Club, Caroline wishes to thank everyone involved for all the congratulations and good wishes in the aftermath of victory. “It’s such a great club and being so close to the town, there is lot’s of working members who aren’t even involved in greyhounds, there is a great comradery. Coursing people really are brilliant. It’s just like everyone is on the same level and I think when you win, you really see how good people are. Their congratulations are so genuine and the amount of people that came to us afterwards was amazing, we are very grateful.

“But if I ever wanted to win one, I wanted to win it there. My old bedroom in the home house actually looks out onto the escape so you can imagine what It was like to win there with one you reared so close to the field.”

While the big family Christmas gathering may have dispersed come the end of January, the huge club support that the O’Sullivan’s received at Co.Kerry is sure to retain it’s momentum to Powerstown Park and Downton Minnie is a classic runner guaranteed a big cheering section in Clonmel 2016.



Regional DTS

Cranorchard scored Big win for Dinny at Regional
Any Trial Stake winner within the coursing stronghold of Templetuohy is extremely well received by fervent coursing supporters and guaranteed to have huge support when contesting the classics at Clonmel. Cranorchard (Killimor Matey/Brianna) for winning owners Tom Skehan & Denis Kelly will benefit from that support in the Derby this year having qualified at Regional and while both have sampled the Powerstown atmosphere with runners in the past, this year is a special achievement for Denis in particular having bred his first Clonmel contender.

This is dam Brianna’s first litter and with just three pups, she has already seen two win Trial Stakes and has not been far from completing a remarkable treble. Affectionately known as “Big Dinny”, Denis explains that he got the bitch for breeding from Hugh Hanley in Newry and is delighted to have bred his first Trial Stake winners.

“I got her from Hugh for breeding and I still have her here. I took her back to Killimor Matey and she is due pups again in February. She actually caught me out the night she had these pups, I was watching her constantly but I was convinced she wasn’t going to have them this night anyway and I went off to bed. Herself woke me up at 3am and said there’s a lot of barking going on out there, so up I got and sure enough she had the lamp down, the carpet up and pups whelped!

“Hugh was to get a dog pup for giving me the bitch but sure she only had the one dog and two bitches so he was happy enough to have a bitch and I’m delighted that she went on to win her Trial Stake.”
That bitch is Brianna Mark who won qualified at Edenderry, just one week after Cranorchard had earned his ticket at Regional and Dinny explains, “he started in Glin and got beat in the first round but the dog that beat him, Redzer Ferrari, went on and won his Trial Stake at Newcastlewest after so at least that turns out to be no disgrace but he was much sharper at Regional next time.

“He went well on Saturday and I remember saying to Tommy, if he wakes up fresh in the morning he’ll have a right chance here. It wasn’t easy though. We had to get over a Brendan Matthews runner in the quarter-final but he did that and ran very well, stayed going and won his semi-final but had to face Brendan Matthews again in the final. I was very proud coming away that evening. It’s not often you beat Brendan Matthews runners twice on a Sunday and more important, it was the first time I had bred, owned and trained a Trial Stake winner. Although having said that, I only won one Trial stake before and that was last year!

“Tommy has had some great days in fairness and Carrigoir Sean was his best day, winning the TA Morris in 2000. Last year was my first winner with Attention Matey winning at Crohane but he wasn’t right going to Clonmel. He done himself an injury in his last blow out before the Derby and in hindsight, we shouldn’t have ran him. I was looking forward to running him in Cups this year but he just hasn’t been right, it’s a pity!

Dinny explains that there has also been some concerns for Cranorchard in his Clonmel preparations since the Regional win but thankfully everything is back on track now and a recent trial has shown him to be in good form.

“We ran him in the Cup at Johnstown but he got beat in the first round and I said to Tommy, he’s not himself and sure enough he did have some muscle problems. He’s fine on that front now but he did also get a touch of a virus which was a scare but that’s also completely cleared up and he had a trial spin very recently where he looked to back in top form. We’ll see about a trial in Clonmel but if he’s fit and in good form, it wouldn’t be a priority. He’s a great dog to gallop so it’s not difficult to keep him ticking over.

“We also have Kranna Matey here and it would be great if we could get her qualified and complete the treble but she started late enough with her season coming just before coursing started. She has gone to the quarter-final in her last two outings and ran the winner very close in Borrisoleigh at the weekend. She’s entered in the home meeting at Templetuohy this week and it might sound a bit quick but she started late, she’s had no hardship and she’ll just have a handy week now leading up to it. We’ll see what happens but it would be great to get them all qualified.”

Earning the name “Big Dinny” through his days at full back for both the footballers and hurlers in Moyne-Templetuohy GAA, he explains, “I did, I played for both but I had a cousin of the same name in the club, he was smaller lad than me so he got named Little Dinny! Ah I always loved sport. I played til I was 36 and got into the dogs after that so I was a while waiting for my first Trial Stake winner last year.

“Tommy would usually have them for training. I’d rear them up and they’d go back to Tommy around fourteen months but he got flooded out of it this year so that’s how they’re with me. It’s great to breed and train my first one and he’s a lovely built dog. About 89 lb’s and a real nice shape. He’s fast away from slips but plenty tough enough too and he galloped the hill well in Regional so I wouldn’t be worried on that front but we’ll just take our chance now and take what comes, it’s just brilliant to be going back!”

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Glanworth OTS

Evan Rocks Glanworth for first Trial Stake success

The victory of Offherrocker (Kyle James/Brencal Express) in the Oaks Trial Stake at Glanworth brought yet another first time Trial Stake success in the 2015/16 season and the Houlihan family of Cloghan in Co.Offaly will enter Clonmel with a classic contender who was purchased to win the Local Stake at Ballinagar for 14 year old working member Evan Houlihan after he himself had scoured the Sporting Press classifieds to find a suitable candidate.

In joint ownership with his grandfather Bill Pardy, Offerherrocker is trained by Evan’s dad Martin Houlihan and he explains that being a working member in the Ballinagar club, Evan had made it an ambition to win the local stake. “It was last February and we didn’t have anything for the coming season but having been out catching hares and going coursing all winter, Evan was keen to have one that could run at the local meeting. I wouldn’t throw out the Sporting Press during the coursing season so there was a few months stacked up and he started going through all the adverts to see what might still be available.

“So we narrowed it down to a few and Evan actually rang Seamus Drennan himself and came back to me, telling me what he had and the price of her. Seamus is in Ballyrohan outside Portlaoise so the geography was suitable and we went and brought her home. Bill would be much more of track man than coursing but he was very happy to go halves in the bitch with Evan, so that’s how we came to have her anyway.

“She went on then and won the local stake at Ballinagar for him first time out but she was doubtful enough to run at all because she was off colour in the couple of weeks leading up to it. When you look back, I’d say it didn’t do her much good because I don’t think she was fully over it when she went to Nenagh next time. She got beat in the second round of the Trial Stake there and I’m not trying to make excuses but I don’t think she was herself.

“The time then to Glanworth done her the world of good and she was very well in herself. I was confident she was over everything but I didn’t think she’d win the Trial Stake, although she was a bit hard to judge because you’d have to use her jealousy to get her galloping. She wouldn’t go after a drag and I was actually in John Higgns’s gallop in Dunkerrin, struggling to get her to go up. Her jealousy would make her go after another dog alright but she was the only one I had for this year. So fair play to Noel Delaney and John Feehan, they allowed me to gallop with the All Age Bitch winner in Nenagh, Legion Spirit. Our bitch seemed to go well behind her and John says to me, Jesus Martin she can run, she’ll win a Trial Stake! I laughed at him and said, if she wins a Trial Stake I’ll eat my hat!

“So you could say I was bit surprised but we just took every course as it came in Glanworth. They were mostly tight courses and I actually think she was off the hare in the middle of both her courses the first day. She was much more on her game the second day though and you could see her jealousy. You know, if she was challenged, she’d find a little bit more. She’d almost look like she’s only doing enough but in reality she’s all heart.”

Martin has threatened Trial Stake victory in the past with his Annies Bridge coming closest when losing out in a final at Borrisoleigh in ’07. He also added further duffer stake successes with her pups but will again be back on the Trial Stake trail next season with two bitches from a litter he bred by Kilkeale Hero out of Tristins Chance who was a lightly coursed daughter of Annies Bridge.

Generally keeping a couple for coursing each year, Martin describes himself as solely a coursing man these days while Bill, along with cousin Paul Pardy keep mainly trackers. Having worked with Frank O’Connell of Garbally fame in the past, he honed his coursing knowledge through that close friend who passed away a few short years ago. He has however also spent time working with Matt O’Donnell in the mid ‘90’s when the kennels enjoyed phenomenal successes including the famous Irish Derby one-two for Batties Rocket and Batties Spirit, along with many more.

Martin does not speculate as to Offherrockers Clonmel chances and simply exclaims, “we’re just very happy to be going there, anything is a bonus at this stage. We honestly didn’t even think about winning a Trial Stake so we won’t expect anything else after that. I’m obviously delighted for Evan, but for Bill too. He wouldn’t even have had a coursing dog only for this bitch and Evan, so we’ll just take whatever comes.”

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Castletown Geoghan DTS

Colossal effort rewarded in Castletown DTS

Maintaining a long and enviable family tradition, the Colossal Syndicate of Ennis claimed Derby Trial Stake victory at Castletown Geoghan with Colossal Ranger (Kyle Ranger/Colossal Plan) and ensures that the formidable Gallery kennels will return once again to Powerstown Park in search of more classic glory with a runner who’s very existence is a triumph for persistence, hard work and belief, traits that the popular Clare kennels have always been renowned for.

Practically reared in the Cillowen kennels, Leona Ryan, niece of breeder George Gallery, tells the story of nursing Colossal Plan back to health when as a pup, she had broken her neck! Speaking for syndicate members Niall & Tom Warren, her mam Patricia and George Gallery, she explains “She was in the last litter we had out of our own brood Lantern Girl, by Murtys Blaze and was the only bitch in it, but she broke her neck in a freak accident.

“I just refused to put her down. We got her operated on and I can still remember getting up every three hours for 9 weeks to turn her over, making sure to keep her circulation going. George then built a harness to try get her walking again. Between all the work and her own will power, we eventually got her on her feet. I always said, there’ll be a story to this one yet!

Now beginning to write her story, Colossal Plan broke her breeding maiden when Colossal Ranger scored at Castletown Geoghan but Leona explains that his route to victory was not straight forward either. “Well he started off in Ennis Clarecastle and actually got tripped over and fell in the first course! He got injured in the fall and was off for eight weeks after that. When we got him back then he went unsighted in the first round in Glanworth!

“He was still only a green pup going to Castletowngeoghan in fairness to him. Sure the first time her ever got a turn of a hare was in the second round there. They had great hares with plenty of turns and he enjoyed the good galloping field. We always knew he had pace but it was just taking a while for him to get a chance to show it. We’re very happy with the way he ran. He has very good early pace and he surely will have improvement in him from this.

“He’s a nice make of a dog, compact enough at around 86lb’s but he’s an absolute pleasure to train. Travels well, relaxes, you couldn’t wish for better really. It should work out to be a good time to win, especially with this fellow, he’s had no hardship. He’s bouncing after it and sure by the time you rest him up, it will be time to go again. We’re just delighted to be going to Clonmel with a runner. There’ll only be one Derby winner but our auld line do run Clonmel. I’m not saying he’s any Derby winner or anything but it shouldn’t bother him at least.”

Clonmel has certainly held no fears for the Gallery line in the past and Leona recalls some precious memories from classics past with her earliest being the Champion Stakes victory for Cillowen Oak in ’87. “I was very young at that time but remember it well. It was a special win and it was a great time for all the family with him winning six cups in all. I was old enough then to fully appreciate Cillowen Glory winning the Champion Stakes in ’95 and sure 2002 was just amazing with Murtys Gang and Cillowen Harbour.

“Having two dogs in a Derby final was something really special. They were both great champions and with Murtys Gang being the ATM Syndicate’s first dog too, for local owners, it brought families together. It was funny, we had both of them here again for stud when they retired and they absolutely hated each other. Murty was trained by Gerry Holian of course and sure he came back thinking he was king of the castle and Harbour already was. They had to be kept as far apart as possible! That probably has to go down as the best Clonmel experience but Cillowen Call running-up the Oaks in 2005 was a special one for me personally.

“I remember going to collect her as pup with George, grandad was sick at the time and when I got home I threw her up on the the bed on top of him and said, she’ll win the Oaks. I really wanted to win that one but she did her best to fulfill it and on another day, she might have pulled it off. But she gave her absolute best and in fairness only lost out to a great winner, Rith Gan Gaisce.”

The grandad that Leona refers to is of course the much revered and greatly missed George Gallery senior. Referring to him repeatedly throughout the conversation, Leona remembers him with fondness as does the entire coursing community in Clare and beyond. “There’s one thing he always said. Whether it’s life, work, dogs or anything else you’re trying to achieve, you have to put in an effort. That’s the way it is for us here. We are a small operation really but It’s a whole family working together with the dogs. I know we’ve had good successes but I also know we’ve been very lucky along the way too.”

At every turn it is clear that Leona is extremely appreciative for all the good days that the family have enjoyed and for all the friends made through coursing, which from personal experience, this commentator can confirm is fully reciprocated by an ever supportive and helpful Gallery family. Acting Assistant Secretary for her local Ennis Clarecastle Club, Leona was also eager to express her pride in the efforts made by the club in recent successful renewals of their early season annual meeting.

“The club is going great. We’re very grateful to the McInerney family for our field and we are well established there now. Everything is in place to be able to get the field ready every year and we have a great group of working members, they all deserve huge credit. This year was another great meeting and make sure you wish our two Trial Stake winners the best of luck in Clonmel for us!”

Returning to Clonmel with a classic contender this season may not seem such a momentous feat in light of past successes for the Gallery’s but the kennels has had to recover from a major setback in recent times. “We got unlucky with a virus. A very bad strain got into the place and hit very bad. You know when you have greyhounds that are so highly tuned, it knocks them back so far. It might have looked like the Gallery’s weren’t running many or breeding much but that was why anyway. Sure we had to strip the whole place down to get rid of it. It took a lot of hard work and investment to get it back in full flight. So you know when it’s going well, you have to appreciate it.”

Now fully recovered, the kennels is extremely busy despite having just two coursing pups for this year as they are presently standing three sires. Leona reports that Kyle Leigh has attracted some stellar brood bitches including Newinn All In, Wise Lady and their own Cillowen Gra while the returning Killleagh Hero who will have pups for next season has also mated more this year. She also reports plenty of interest for new addition Vale View Flyer saying, “Oh he’s all heart and sure he has a brilliant line. He’s busy enough already!”

Delighted to have earned this Derby ticket with Colossal Ranger Leona signs off, “we’ll head for Clonmel and we won’t expect too much. To be there on the last day would be the goal at this stage I suppose. George has three kids now and the oldest is 10, so this will be their memories in years to come and sure it’s all about bringing on the next generation. The only thing I’ll be telling anyone is, remember to enjoy it!


Castletown Geoghan OTS

Vera bridges thirteen year gap for Mounsey’s at Castletown

Having thus far conducted all of these Trial Stake winning interviews over the phone, the victory of Patterdale Vera (Johnny Casanova/Oh Banba) in the Oaks Trial Stake at Castletowngeoghan afforded me the chance to drop in on friends and neighbours, the family of winning owner Maureen Mounsey at Clashnevin, Nenagh, to discuss a very welcome return to Clonmel having last contested a puppy classic thirteen years ago.

Luckily timing my visit to find husband and wife, Roger & Maureen, on a rare break from working the farm, I was sat down at the kitchen table and swiftly informed to keep this piece, short and sweet! Never ones to put themselves forward for publicity, the Mounsey family would always be the last to blow their own trumpet but are renowned within their home club as expert exponents of all aspects of greyhound racing.

Delighted to be returning to Powerstown Park with a runner this year, Roger exclaims, “we are over the moon. You know we’ve been buying pups every year and some very well bred ones too but it just didn’t work out. It’s great to be going back and she’s decent now!”

Patterdale Vera began her campaign when running-up the Ballinagar qualifier on her first outing when a beaten finalist to Accessibilty and clearly showed the benefits for those exertions to score at Castletowngeoghan on her next appearance.

Describing her, Roger adds, “she’s well made, about average size but she’s mad keen. She’s very good to line up her hare, I’m not codding you, she has some eye and that really helped her at the weekend. She went well in Ballinagar starting off and we were all set to keep her going but she was a reserve at Rathcormac and didn’t get a run so we gave her a trial. She gave herself a right tumble there and injured her shoulder.

“She went a long time without a gallop before Castlegeoghan then just trying to get her right. The girls are great, they did a lot of work on her and thank god it did come back in time. She got another tumble in the semi-final though and had us worried again but I think she’s ok now. She won that semi-final well but it was a bit unfortunate for Michael O’Donovan’s bitch. She got the worst of the slip and didn’t get away level with our one. It was a bit of shame for them, all you want at that stage is to have everything equal.”

That semi-final victim was Im Shining who had previously run-up a Trial Stake at New Ross and those who might question the depth of form in a 16 runner qualifier must also note that the runner-up here, Bodica, was a previous beaten finalist at Galway & Oranmore.
This empathy from Roger is typical of a true sporting mentality throughout the Mounsey family who train their dogs as one and ownership really is just in name with Maureen joking, “Sure they only put my name on them when they want a bit of luck!”

A leading figure in Nenagh Coursing Club, Roger is a forward thinking committee member who, from personal experience, has always promoted and fostered the continued integration of young people to the sport. With a family of working members in the local club, the Mounsey’s are known throughout the North Tipperary community with daughter Caroline’s veterinary practice in Nenagh being frequented by most, if not all kennels in the area.

Now bridging a thirteen year gap, Roger recalls his last Clonmel runner with real fondness. Patterdale Romeo was one of the most talented coursing dogs of his generation and could easily be labelled an unlucky runner in three classics! Narrowly defeated in a Champion Stakes semi-final, he also ran unsighted when holding real claims of Irish Cup victory but his Derby tilt when suffering a heavy hunt in the third round is the one that lingers to this day.

“Ah we’ll never have another one like Romeo. I can still see the girls (Sally & Elaine) carrying him off the top of the field on Tuesday evening. We did what we could and he gave everything Wednesday morning but sure that’s coursing. He was unlucky but you’ll have that! He was some dog to line up his hare too and I could never figure out why he went unsighted in the Irish Cup. I remember Fintan Kirwan, lord rest him, wanted to buy him to go to the Waterloo Cup. When I look back, it might have been the right thing with the Waterloo finishing up so soon after.”

The Mounsey’s can also be found with track runners at many venues around the country and have enjoyed considerable success with a Champion Stakes third to Mountleader Peer for Patterdale Danny in 1994 a particular highlight. Their current brood bitch, Patterdale Luna, has proved a prolific dam when throwing Derby runners Patterdale Rocco, Airforce Roger and the brilliant Abbeyville Tipp in her first litter to Westmead Hawk.

Delighted to have provided another winner for breeder Ashley Mangan following the success of Oakview Banba at Loughrea, Roger declares that like her sister, Patterdale Vera is likely to appreciate the Clonmel field. “Castletowngeoghan is a fine gallop and she handled it very well. They had great hares and ran a great meeting in bad conditions, there’s great credit due to them. But I think our one will like the long field and sure I suppose it’s all about getting to the last day if you can manage it. That’s what we’ll hope for.”

With that, daughter Elaine entered the kitchen where Maureen had impressively prepared and baked three cakes of brown bread during our chat and as Elaine pulled on the over clothes, Roger jumps up and says “right that’s my cue to go walking dogs!” They had not left though before Elaine declared, “You know it’s Maureen’s birthday today!”

Disobeying a direct instruction from Maureen, we wish her a happy birthday and all the very best of luck in Powerstown Park where Patterdale Vera will have the support of an entire Nenagh Coursing Club along with the many friends that this unassuming and extremely astute greyhound family have accumulated across the greyhound community.


Ballinagar OTS

Matt finally gains Access to Oaks at Ballinagar

Trial Stake victories do not come easy! A simple statement to make but not so easy to live through the close calls and narrow defeats for years on end in pursuit of an elusive ticket for a Powerstown classic. It is little wonder then that celebrations in the aftermath of Ballinagar Oaks Trial Stake success for the Lost Wallet Syndicate’s Accessibility (Adios Alonso/Aslee Annie) continued long into the night when she ended a lifetime drought for syndicate chief Matt Bergin of Rathdowney Co.Offaly.

Upon receiving the request for an interview, a delighted Matt replied “Well, we’re that long waiting for it, I’m not going to say no! Although we done so much celebrating after it, I hope the second one doesn’t come along for a couple of months at least!

I’m in dogs practically all my life going back through my dad Paddy’s time and this is the first Trial Stake winner we ever had, so it’s fair to say we are all delighted, the pressure is off now! We had all sorts of hard luck stories down the years and I even had a bitch one time that was beat seven times, Boynepark Maggie and the seven bitches that beat her ended up in the Oaks at Clonmel.

Paddy did breed Owens Sedge so he actually won a Derby as a breeder but never a Trial Stake. He was secretary in Rathdowney for years and sure coursing was everything. He passed away in ’09, he was into his eighties but I tell you’d have to be holding him on the end of a rope to keep down, he’d be on such a high if he was here for this.

She beat Patterdale Vera in the final and Paddy would have known Roger Mounsey in his time. I wouldn’t have begrudged them at all, lovely people but there was still a right roar went up when we got the flag. There was nearly a hundred years of frustration in those cheers!”

Beaten in round two at Edenderry, Accessibility was winning at the second time of asking but Matt did suspect she might be decent even before her first outing. “I did think she could run a bit but she practically trained herself in the beginning. She did lots of free running and loved working. I only really got serious with her about two weeks before Edenderry. She was leading alright but other than that she was only out around the fields.

She was a bit unlucky in Edenderry I suppose but I always start off thinking I won’t win so there wasn’t much new! She was off her hare for a while in the second round there which you wouldn’t think could happen the way she ran in Ballinagar, she was sizing them up all the way! I was at the bottom of the field and she was leading out of slips every time and from where I was, she didn’t ever look like getting beat anyway. The clocks were fairly good compared to the All Age bitches too so you’d have to be happy.

She’s in great form after it all, one hundred percent sound. I’m not joking I could go with her again now, I don’t know how I’m going to keep her amused until February. I definitely think she’s one that needs to be kept busy. I’ll maybe think about a Puppy Stake for her. I’ve not been in the position before but I’ll think about it, ask advice and then make up my own mind but we were never fond of sparing them and I don’t think I’ll start now!”

The Lost Wallet Syndicate consists of many members from the Bannon, Bergin and Coffey families with Matt exclaiming that “anyone who wanted to be in it, could be in it! The name just came from one of the young lads when he lost his wallet after his communion and the bitches name was totally random.

I have few more for the season and actually have a brother of her’s but he won’t be out for another couple of weeks with a small setback. I reared two for two from the litter for Paddy Donovan and it’s a breeding line I like so I’m delighted I could get a winner for Paddy too. I train her myself here but I have loads of people to thank. Kevin Coffey is my right hand man all the time but my own sister Clare and Jim Coss are always a big help, they are secretary and chairman in Rathdowney where Eugene and Shane Hearns maintain the gallop for us.

I have to thank my wife Noreeen and son Josh too who are always a great help. Noreen kept supporting through all the losing times and even though not a greyhound woman herself, she understood the tradition with me and dad, and there was never complaints wherever we took off to for coursing.

In closing, Matt was all praise for the Ballinagar club, thanking all involved for a great meeting. “They are a great club and always have their hares in top condition. They looked after us very well and there was plenty of them roaring along with us in the final. Sure they’re half local to us to all of us here anyway so it was a good place to win. We were definitely in the right field, on the right day!.......but I still went and got the Sporting Press this morning, to make sure that she did actually win!


Newcastlewest OTS

Tory’s begin down under double at Newcastlewest

Initially set to report a highly impressive victory by Tory Ellie (Adios Alonso/Chubbys Excel) in the Oaks Trial Stake at Newcastlewest this profile of the Reid family success would require further updating just one week on from that win when they completed a brilliant double by qualifying her kennelmate, Tory Hill Denzel (Razor Ashmore/Quality And Dash) for the Derby on a glorious day in Dungarvan last Sunday.

With owner Paul Reid now resident in Australia, his dad Tom Reid, along with good friend Frank Wall take the training plaudits for these victories from their kennels in Kilmacow Co.Kilkenny and he admits to being more than a little surprised at the position he now finds himself in. Speaking on Sunday evening he exclaims, “I really wasn’t expecting this. It has been a great week, unbelievable. We only have two for coursing so it’s a hundred percent success rate this year! Sure they are so hard to win, it’s not really sinking in yet. I’m in shock, happy days!”

His surprise is genuine, for when discussing the Newcastlewest victory late last week. Tom had already seen Tory Hill Denzel win his opening rounds on Friday at Dungarvan and I suggested that I would hold off on completing this article until the conclusion of that stake, with the possibility of another winner. “Ah you won’t be ringing me Sunday evening. That fellow is only on his way back from an injury. He’s sound now but he’s going to need a few runs, fitness will be a problem for him. He should improve for this and I intend running him in Mooncoin on Stephen’s Day”…….famous last words Tom!

So this landmark week for the Reids began at Newcastlewest and all in attendance were impressed with Tory Ellie throughout a smart victory. She was showing improved form from her debut appearance when a beaten semi-finalist to winner Hey Ma at Co.Carlow and will have been noted on many short-lists.

“I just thought she needed more galloping before Carlow, just that bit off on fitness but we left there very happy with her. She was only beaten a length to a good winner in the semi-final and sure when you look back now, it worked out ok after! She was ready for Newcastlewest but we were still a little surprised with the win, just because it’s always a very hot Trial Stake there, very hard to win. Still, the way she ran the early rounds I did start to give her a chance alright. She was good on the clock and in tough conditions she was kicking on from halfway.

“She’s a big powerful 85lb bitch and probably does her best running from halfway but she’s well able to come out of slips too. She’s in good form after it and she’ll have her couple of weeks off now before we get her going again. We did have a few approaches but she wouldn’t be for sale. Paul bought her for breeding and that’s the way it will go.”

Tory Ellie will be an exciting new addition to their breeding ranks and this double for the Reid’s represents an extension of Chubbys Excel’s, daughter to 2007 Oaks winner Chubbys Accord, impressive breeding career having thrown talented runners Go On Slogan, Killacolla Spice and Mr Blonde in her first coursing litter to Murtys Blaze. While Tory Hill Denzel birngs to five the number of qualifiers for his dam Quality And Dash this season.

“Ah sure Paul’s delighted over there. He’s in Australia for about four and a half years now but he would normally come home for Christmas and stay on for Clonmel. Although that wasn’t the plan for this year as they have new child….still, he’s talking about it!”

Working closely with Frank Wall, the Reid family have had one Clonmel runner in the past when Tory Hill Blonde won his Derby Trial Stake at Crohane in 2009 before going unsigthed in the opening round at Powerstown and have been kept busy with track runners in the interim with progeny from their brood Zip Fastener who has provided many smart trackers.

“I used to work with Frank back the years and that’s how we got involved with dogs together. He’s very good with them, very thorough with injuries and all that, meticulous! He’s takes no chances, if there was the slightest inkling that something wasn’t right he’d be off getting them checked and sorting it out.”

Well known throughout Kilkenny in GAA circles, Tom reveals, while laughing at the groans of a staunch Tipperary man, that he is uncle to current Hurler Of The Year and Red Mills representative, TJ Reid. “Ha, yeah we’d be a big GAA family alright. I’m a Ballyhale man myself and hurled for the Shamrocks. My own brother Richie hurled for the county and won his All Ireland at half back in `79 and sure TJ supplies me with the nuts every week!

So with all the relevant information garnered from Tom at this point, the interview was crowned with a Monday morning call from Australia as a delighted Paul Reid confirmed his dad’s suspicion that he could make an appearance at Powerstown Park. “Oh I’ll be there ha. A bitch in the Oaks and a dog in Derby, I couldn’t miss it! I’m a happy man now, there’s no complaining this week. Although I am a bit in shock, it really was unexpected. Sure the dog only had a few gallops and he’s 100lb so you couldn’t be expecting him to win. He should definitely improve from this. It’s been a great week, we’ll just savour the moment for now. The big kennels might be used to this but the small man doesn’t get weeks like this. We might never get another Trial Stake winner ever again sure.

Fully aware of how difficult these Trial Stakes are to win, Paul’s assertion that he may never win another looks an unlikely one. With intentions to return to Ireland for good early next year, he has been preparing for an increased breeding campaign both on the field and the track, for some time. He has already sent an exceptionally bred track bitch back to Kilmacow to start a track line. His friendship with Steve Kavanagh, of Ace High Rumble fame, led to the purchase of Blessed Rumble who was a Group 2 runner down under. She is by Collision out of Mystic Rumble who is a litter comrade to top Australian stud dog Cosmic Rumble and herself was at track record breaker at Lismore in New South Wales.

With huge admiration for the Chubbys dam-lines, Paul was eager to buy form the O’Meara’s kennel with an eye on the future and his strive for further success in the coursing field is confirmed with the news that he has also bought a bitch for next season by Thomas The Tank out of Moat Lady.
“Sure I suppose you have to try give yourself every chance when you can. Hopefully we’ll be lucky. We’ll be home early next year and try get the house built and have the few litters coming on then. But I’ll be heading for Clonmel on my own. I’ll have to leave the child behind me, there won’t be a passport sorted in time. Her name is Molly and she’s only three weeks old so it has been a hectic time.”

With wife Lisa hailing from the coursing stronghold of Mooncoin, she may be more forgiving than some would be in such a situation, especially as Tory Hill Denzel delivered his win on their first wedding anniversary last Sunday. “That was some anniversary present to get! It’s been a mad few weeks but we’re going to Clonmel now anyway, that’s all that matters!

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Rathdowney DTS

Love or Hate, Nidge is Top of Rathdowney Tree

Adding to a growing list of first time Trial Stake winning owners in 2015/16 at Rathdowney last week was David Lonergan of Cahir when braving the elements to defeat his rivals, as well as storm Desmond, when Tree Top Nigde (Johnny Casanova/See The Sky) returned a hugely impressive victory in the Derby qualifier when trained by best friend Paddy Flannery.

An initial call to the Lonergan family homestead was received by David’s father Bill Lonergan and with the greyhounds being a true family venture he expressed his delight that their brood, See The Sky, had now registered her first breeding success.

“It’s great to get her off the mark with the first one. She had no luck with her first litter but in fairness they were late enough pups and were very big types so in hindsight it was probably hard for them. This litter look promising though, Casanova Turbo already ran-up at Limerick City and now this fellow. We have two bitches from the litter also. One of them hasn’t ran yet but See The Tango ran well in Old Kilcullen and should improve for that. This fellow came on a good bit for his first day out in Knockgraffon so hopefully the rest are the same.”

Tree Top Nidge began his campaign when defeated in round one at Knockgraffon in what Bill describes as a bumpy course where any outcome was possible they way things went, an assertion that was confirmed by David. “We actually wondered if we had any chance going to Knockgraffon as there was plenty of chat around about Domain King and we were meeting him in the first round. Yeah it was bumpy, neither dog ever got free to gallop really and the other dog just got his head in front at the right time. He went on to do a fast clock in the next round so when we looked back at it, our fellow performed well enough.

“He seemed to come on for that and he ran very well at Rathdowney. We have no clocks for the second day which is a shame, you’d like to see them because he seemed to just keep improving in every course. He was finding another gear when he hit the hill and actually looked like he wanted more and more of it! He looks the type to do his best running from halfway but he wasn’t getting led too far from slips in any of his courses either!

“It’s great to the get the breed of the mark. The dam was bought for breeding being by Wallace Green out of Tango Time. There has been interest this week with calls from people looking to know if she has pups for next year but she hasn’t, we’ll all have to wait another 12 months I’m afraid.”

Reflecting further on his first Trial Stake win David exclaims, “Sure I could hardly believe it really. It’s the first for the family. I was always into Coursing but it was mostly Open Coursing until Paddy won a Trial Stake in 2009 with Clerihan Daisy and that kind of increased my own desire to win one, and breed a winner. Now I’m down as the owner of Tree Top Nidge but it is actually a partnership with myself and Paddy. The minute he seen him, he wanted him and it was his decision to go to Rathdowney because that’s where he won his first Trial Stake, it’s a lucky field for him. Sure give him a ring there!

Heeding that instruction, the next call was to trainer Paddy Flannery who David calls a best friend and equally delighted with the performance of Tree Top Nidge he describes him saying, “He’s a good little dog, very tough. He got a bad fall on Saturday and a few turns after it. I actually thought I might be pulling him out on Sunday morning but thankfully he was ok to carry on.

“He’s in good form after it all, he came off sound and I think I’m going to run him in the Cup at Galbally. I want him working. From experience, you can wrap them up in cotton wool too much for Clonmel. They’re bred to run and this fellow loves running. He’s a mad keen type of dog. Tough, determined, very jealous and chasing it mad, there’s nothing safe with him. Sure that’s why David called him Nidge, you either Love him or Hate him!”

Having spoken to all three, it is clear that the Lonergan family are extremely proud to have registered their first Trial Stake winner, made even more special to be trained by close friend Paddy Flannery. Bill also directed me to a photo that appeared in the Sporting Press very recently as part of the Knockgraffon centenary celebrations where his father, Michael Lonergan was seen in a group photo of founders members at the club. “Sure that’s why the dog was in Knockgraffon the first day out. There you are now, this winner was a hundred years in the making!”


Mitchelstown OTS

Mad Moment of surprise in Mitchelstown Oaks

Being tasked with the opportunity to speak with gleeful Trial Stake winning owners in the wake of success is a rewarding endeavour, even more so when the lucky connections are achieving their first such win. The current season has gratefully had it’s fair share of debutant ticket winners and Sharon Sexton’s Mad Moment (Mafi Magic/Barrow Princess) added to the list when claiming the Mitchelstown Oaks on Bandon coursing field grounds in what can be labelled a shock win as she confesses that she really did not think the bitch was Trial Stake material!

So evidently delighted at the success, Sharon explains “It’s unbelievable, we really didn’t expect it at all. It’s our first Trial Stake winner so we’re absolutely delighted!”

Despite winning the Hare Catchers Stake at home meeting Miltown Malbay on her first outing of the season, Trial Stake victory came as a surprise to Sharon. “She had her first day out in the duffer at Miltown and in fairness she did kind of run away from everything but you never know what the form would be like and even though we were happy with her, we definitely didn’t think that it would make her Trial Stake material.

“We went to Bandon with no expectations at all and I’d never been in the field before, I got a right shock when I got out of the van. I’ve never seen such a steep hill in a coursing field. I felt sorry for the auld lads, it was taking them twenty minutes to get from the bottom of the field to the top. I’m only a young one but I was feeling it in my legs going in to collect her. I have to say it was in great condition though, there was a lovely cushion to it and thankfully the bitch handled it very well.

“I was surprised with how well she was winning her courses on Saturday, by five or six lengths like! I was wondering away to myself, there surely must be something going to come along and put her out shortly. Like, she started off at 10/1 outsider and she was still 4/1 before the quarter-final. That was her worst course. She was fine, there was no problems but she is normally a rocket out of slips but this time she was a bit sluggish and was led out. She recovered though and ran the hill well to get back on top again, so that was great to see from her.

“I don’t really bother too much with the clocks but she was getting closer in the betting all the time so I did ask before the final and was told she was the fastest, so that was a bit of reassurance I suppose and it was the first time she was favourite. I don’t know how much she won the final by but it was a typical final slip, that bit shorter, so I was looking down from the top of the field. I just knew she was in front when they turned and that was me gone celebrating, I could hardly believe it!

“We’re trying for about ten years so you can imagine the celebrations that went on but you know, you hear of so many people that are trying all their lives to win a Trial Stake. So I know we’re lucky. I was more or less reared with dogs. I’m 22 now and my dad Noel started off with track dogs about fifteen years ago before he ever had a coursing dog. We’d have one or maybe two for Coursing then every year after that. He always said to me, Coursing is too hard a game to be getting into in a big way but we still came home with two instead of one when we went to buy this bitch!

“We bought her from Mary Murphy, she had them half reared at the time and they were gorgeous pups. Sure we had one picked and we were still looking at the ones we were leaving behind, and Mary encouraging us away saying, you’ll nearly have to take another one to keep her company. That was all fine until we got home to a kennel full of trackers and my mam Geraldine asking, where’s the other one going to go? Ye’re mad in the head! We were actually going to call her Mad In The Head but it was gone, so that’s where Mad Moment came from.”

This victory for Mad Moment is not the first success that the Sexton’s have had in the field and their most notable previous win came with another runner from Barrow Princess, who is a litter comrade to 2008 Champion Dog Catunda Ashmore.

“We have won duffers before but our only other big stake win was with Princess Suzie (Bexhill Eoin/Barrow Princess) last year in the South Clare All Age. She was beaten in three Trial Stake semi-finals and this was going to be her last day out. That was another big surprise at the time.”

One may be forgiven for thinking that Sharon under estimates the abilities of her Coursing runners but throughout an extended and entertaining conversation it becomes apparent that she more so, simply expects nothing and is grateful for any success that comes her way in a sport that she loves. Calling both Miltown Malbay and Killimer/Kilrush home meetings for whom she, along with dad Noel catch hares, she is one of our vital young participants that are needed to secure a healthy future for the sport, something she is extremely passionate about exclaiming, “I don’t know what I’d do without Coursing! It’s great to be getting up in the morning and doing your work with the dogs. Sure any win during the year makes it worth while, Coursing is a great game!”

Describing Mad Moment Sharon continues, “She’s a lovely calm bitch in the kennel and a brilliant traveller but you have to have your wits about you walking her. Mam had her out one day and a neighbours terrier was loose on the road. Well everyone survived but the poor terrier got a right scare and now when you’re walking her, she’d pull the arms out of you. Honestly you’d have no peace walking her. When dad gets back, he is wrecked. She walks him!

“The minute she hears the first noise after you enter the Coursing field, she’s off and you have to get her out and walk her around but when the slips go on for the first course she goes lovely and calm again. The courses weren’t knocking a thing out of her in Bandon and she was very relaxed between courses.

“I sometimes give Pat Curtin a hand catching a few runners if he is stuck and I’d have huge respect for his knowledge of the game but when he saw her lying off in the van nearly going asleep he says, see that, that’s the best weapon you’ll have with her. You couldn’t buy that! With that said though, she’s a different bitch in the field. The hair is literally standing on her neck and back when you collect her after a course.

“She has been checked out and she’s one hundred percent so we’ll just gallop away until Clonmel. It’s only setting in now that we’re actually there. They tell me whatever goes up Bandon will go well up Clonmel but hopefully we can just scrape away for a few rounds and sure you never know. If she could be lucky and avoid a real good one early on, sure god is good, we might stay lucky!

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Lixnaw OTS

Kilcastle inspires Costello double in Lixnaw Oaks

Kilcastle Five for Maurice Costello of Ardfert gained an impressive Oaks Trial victory at Lixnaw when building on the immense promise shown on her debut outing when a beaten finalist at CastleIsland and formed part of a glorious Sunday of success for the O’Connor family of Ardfert when brother William Costello also trained the Derby Trial stake winner, having bred both!

Claiming his first ever classic ticket with Kilcastle Five, a joyous Maurice exclaims, “We’re delighted, it was a great win, and well overdue! I’ve been in five or six finals over the past number of years so it’s a relief to finally win one. William has had Trial Stake winners alright but he’s understandably over the moon this week, it was a great day for the breed!”

That breed is a litter by Kyle King out of Amys View who herself ran-up a Trial Stake at Co.Kerry in her puppy season before All Age Bitch Stake victory at Waterford. This being her first litter, she has made a wonderful start to her breeding career and Maurice reports that she is due to break again soon for her third litter while she has pups currently on the ground for next season by Thomas The Tank.
Completing her litter double at the meeting was Adrian Clifford’s Ardfert Andrew who was having his third outing of the year and Maurice explains that he just simply took longer to come to hand than his sister.

“The dog is improving all the time in fairness to him. He just took time which can be expected with a dog really but he ran very well at the weekend. You know he beat the Castleisland runner-up in the semi-final and the dog he beat in the final had won a stake at Castleisland, so that shows how much he has come on. You would have thought he was up against it all the way but he won it well! It was a great weekend for William and we’re all delighted for him. These are the only two he has in the kennel from this litter, so to get both qualified on the same day is a great achievement. He has one other bitch for the season so hopefully he can he complete the treble before the season is over.”

Also beginning her campaign at Castleisland, Maurice did suspect from an early stage that Kilcastle Five was a smart prospect for the season. “She wasn’t a hundred percent going there but we always thought she was decent and still knew it would take a good one to beat her and in fairness it did, the winner is a very good bitch although she did run her close! There was five weeks then to Lixnaw and she was well rested. She actually only had two gallops in that time, keeping her fresh.

“She’s good away and has early pace. She gets in front and then kind of holds that all the way, she’s strong from start to finish and has no problem with rising ground. She won her courses well at Lixnaw, I think there was over 2 or 3 lengths in all the courses so you’d have to be impressed with her.

“She won’t be out again before Clonmel, she has two good outings under her now so that should have her spot on. I don’t see Clonmel being a problem for her but you’re going to a different field altogether there. You have a coursing field galloped before you even start climbing, it’s way tougher but I’d imagine she’ll run it well. Sure all you can do is have them as good as you can. It’s great to be going there with a decent bitch. I know only too well that these don’t come along too often.”


Killimer Kilrush OTS

Pardon Me, Doyle’s coming through in Kilrush Oaks

The Oaks Trial Stake at the Killimer & Kilrush meeting of last week returned an extremely popular winner when Pardon Me Boys emerged victorious to great cheers for Carlow native but adopted Clare owner Sean Doyle and Miltown Malbay trainer Paddy Marrinan when displaying huge resolve in her third outing of the season.

Among the many congratulations it was jokingly pointed out to Sean that he will have the distinction of breeding an all winning litter for the Clonmel festival and delighted, he explains that she was an only pup out of a dam that he leased from Tom Morris in Roscommon.

“I leased Down The Hollow from Tom to breed a litter. It was always an ambition to breed a Trial Stake winner and it couldn’t have happened a much better way really because the first runner I ever had in a Coursing field, I bought from Tom too!

“I had taken note of the dam even outside of knowing Tom though. She had a pup called Believeicanfly who won an All Age in Liscannor but I had seen her clock very fast in a duffer as a pup and actually considered buying her at one stage. I had gotten friendly with Tom by now and through conversation I discovered her dam was available for lease so I chanced it.

“Pardon Me Boys is a real tank of a bitch. 81lb weight with a big backside on her, really powerful. She was a real gamey type from the very start and I always liked her. I have two bitches for the season and I gave them to Paddy Marrinan once they had a bit of age, to get some work into them and decided to leave them with him for training. He wasn’t too busy with coursing dogs for the year so it worked out well that way. He’s a mighty man to do dogs, a completely committed coursing man!

“We had her readied up for early season and got a slight setback that delayed us but she started in Limerick City. I fancied her there and she won her first course well but was unlucky in the second. She was a length in front of the eventual runner-up when the hare shifted. She was on it quickly but moved across in front of the other bitch and got her legs taken, just one of those things but we were still happy the way she ran. She was beaten in the first course then at Clonmel & Kilsheelin behind another shifting hare and that was disappointing because we did fancy her again. She looked in control but whatever way it went when she moved across, she was beat a just up!”

It was on then to Killimer & Kilrush and those who know Sean, will confirm that he is a thorough student of form. With the draw extensively studied, he assessed his chances and was again prepared to back Pardon Me Boys but was prevented from doing so by his round 1 opponent!

“I was meeting a bitch called Our Razor and I’ve got to know Tom O’Connor well. Long story short, they were telling me about this bitch they liked back along so they had me scared for the first round, I couldn’t punt! She got over that round anyway and she ran very well. She’s good out of slips but she has a turn of foot after about 40 yards where she wins her courses. She’s a real Thomas The Tank but I was very impressed the way she ran the hill in her semi-final and was confident for the final on the back of that.

“She was outsider for the final and I even said it to Dinny Gould, you have it wrong there! Although he had no liabilities with my bitch so that explained it. She came away well again in the final and even though the hare wound at the top, she almost seemed to go again at it from about three quarters of a length in front of a good runner-up. Having gone through the form well beforehand, I actually expected to be meeting Fivestarger if I got that far.

“There was great cheers when she got the flag. I’m living in Ennis now and I’ve got to know all the Coursing gang here and sure they all know Paddy! We had a right celebration afterwards in O’Brien’s Bar in Kilrush and myself and Paddy had a bit of a repeat in Frankie White’s Halfway Bar in Clarecastle on Thursday, so the win hasn’t passed unmarked!”

Recognised in Coursing fields throughout Ireland, Sean has always been something of a scholar within the sport. With an eye for a viable punting option, he has been clocking dogs for over 25 years to fuel his opinions and with first hand experience, this commentator can confirm that they are always worth a listen! We all know people who can astound with their recollection of breeding lines and Sean is another of those but that has come not only from a deep rooted interest but also from intense studying.

“I never miss a weekend Coursing! I actually have every card from every meeting I ever attended since I started and I have every Sporting Press from the Coursing seasons in that time also. I kept my own Coursing form books and devised my own handicap system for rating dogs based not just on form but what length of field their best runs were recorded, flat runs, up a hill, everything. When things worked to plan I could tell at what point a dog would be passed in Powerstown!”

This studious nature can be in no small part attributed to Sean’s need to keep abreast of form when standing as a bookmaker at Thurles & Kilkenny tracks as well as many Coursing fields over a fifteen year period and although not making a book at present, he does not totally rule it out in the future.

“Ah the downturn in the economy finished it really, things just got too quiet. I kept going on the Coursing fields for a while after the tracks but it was a huge amount of studying and work when there was so little turnover in the end. Although I probably would stand again if things picked up…..maybe!”

So well known in the sport, it may surprise many to learn that Sean only raced his first Coursing dog 3 years ago but given his wealth of knowledge, it won’t surprise to hear that he scored on his very first attempt to win a Trial Stake!

“The first Coursing dog I ever raced, I bought from Tom Morris, Winsome Kate. She was half owned with Donal Cooney who trained her. She won her Trial Stake at Tradaree in her first outing and now I’ve bred my first from a bitch I also leased from Tom. I doubt that Down The Hollow will be bred again but I have Winsome Kate, Prolific Artist and I’ll now have Pardon Me Boys for breeding.”

Asked if we could expect to see Pardom Me Boys before the Oaks and about her chances in the classic Sean replies, “I doubt it. She’ll go on the easy list for a while now. It’s a nice time to win I think. We can get her working hard again after Christmas and head straight to Clonmel. What I expect is that she’ll improve. I was pleasantly surprised by the way she ran the rising ground. You know she has a kick and if she gets in front of you, you’re probably in trouble, she’ll keep giving extra. A typical Thomas The Tank, she could love it.

“She takes everything in her stride too. She learns quick, she’s very focused and very calm which suits with the men that are handling her. There’s no panic with Paddy and Johnny Sexton who was on catching duty won’t be getting excited around her either. I must give a mention and big thanks to Paddy Falsey who would be giving a hand galloping her too and to my daughter Sarah Jane. She is my eldest of three daughters at 13, into all sorts of sports but she would go coursing every day of the week if she could, she’s mad for it!”

Currently quoted at 33/1 for the Oaks, Pardon Me Boys appears like she might be value in the market after speaking with Sean but there will be no better man to ask about her chances come late January. Sean will have forensically examined the form of all qualifiers and we will be checking back in to get what will be his honest assessment!


Rathcormac DTS

Junior scripts his own fairytale in Rathcormac DTS

Impressive throughout his Trial Stake victory at Rathcormac last week, Glenbowen Junior returned a popular local winner for Chloe Bowen and family of nearby Glen in his first outing of the season. However, originally intended for entry in a Duffer stake the victory can be labelled somewhat of a surprise and no more so than for trainer Aidan Bowen who describes the win as “a fairytale”!

Delighted to have finally gotten over the line in a Trial Stake Aidan explains, “We are over the moon! We’ve been knocking at the door for a while, beaten in a final and semi-final and a few bits of hard luck along the way. I suppose you just have to keep trying and sure it had to change sometime, although I didn’t expect it to change this week!

“Well he wasn’t ready is the simple story. I was intending to run him in the Inter-Club stake because he had very little work done. He was getting over a small problem that delayed him coming out, so I thought I only wanted a couple of runs for him. I wasn’t expecting anything at Rathcormac and was really just hoping to sharpen him up and get him ready for Blarney in a few weeks but it was suggested I stick him in the Trial Stake and sure the rest is just a fairytale!

“I thought he was decent even though he had very little work got. He actually had a couple of handslips at the track and seemed to fly but if he had eight gallops since September, that would be the most work he had. We have three trackers here but he’s the only Coursing dog we have so I had nothing to gauge him off. To look at him you’d say he’s a plain enough type of dog, around the 84lb mark but he’s very strong with a great temperament.

“He had no Coursing trial or anything got so the first round was genuinely his first time in slips but he’s a bullet away and gets galloping very strongly from the first few strides. He was winning the courses with his early pace, making a lead for himself and keeping hold of it. I think he two lengths or more to spare in each round but the thing I was most impressed with was that he was repeating the same clock over and over. Sure the whole thing is unbelievable really!

“Like I said, he’s strong and there is clearly an engine in there. I hope it’s still there in January! I would still regard him as being green though and I will bring him out again if everything works out. He would probably need another outing to help him mature. Blarney would have been on the cards anyway so I’ll probably be looking to head there and in reality that would tell me a lot more about him, put some reasoning on the whole thing.

“I have had a few advances from buyers since the win but they were refused and he won’t be for sale, sure I might never have another Trial Stake winner. He has some slight soreness after it all, nothing major but in fairness if he hadn’t you’d be more worried. He had so little done beforehand, he was bound to know he was after going five rounds on Monday! He’ll be well looked after for for a while now before I get him going again.

Father of two, Aidan claims to have no luck in his own name and sceptically leaves the ownership responsibilities to the ladies of the house. “I have a son Adam and daughter Chloe but the trackers all go in the wife’s, Linda, name and the Coursing in Chloe’s. She is 17 and doing her Leaving Cert this year but she’d help out when she gets home every evening and if she had a day off she’d spend the day with them, she’s mad for the Coursing!

“I must thank my own brother Sean for helping with the training and want to give a mention for Paddy Cotter in Blarney also. I worked with him when I was young man and he taught me a lot about dogs and helps me out with advice the whole time. I should be thanking a few more too because it was a kind of a fairytale turn of events that I even ended up with this dog.

“I was supposed to buy a bitch and I actually thought the deal was done and she would be my one for the year but anyway that feel through. So I was on the look out after that and I was doing a shed for Anthony Mullins when the right man walked in, his brother Eoin. He’s a neighbour of the breeder John Mullins and knew about this litter so in the wind up, both myself and Anthony went and bought a dog each. There wasn’t even any picking involved, we put the cards on the dashboard and went eeney, meeny, miny, moe!

“Anthony’s dog is called Creamery Wonder and he was beaten in the quarter-final at Rathcormac by the runner-up, so I got revenge for that in the final! Sure the whole thing is unbelievable really! I reckon now the best plan for all this, is to have no plan at all. It’s a fairytale and hopefully the next fairytale is a Derby win but we’re there now anyway and all we can do is see what happens!


Clonmel & Kilsheelin OTS

Milly is Kane for Oaks tilt after Kilsheelin OTS win

The Oaks Trial Stake at Clonmel & Kilsheelin found a game winner and live classic contender when Amelies Milly (Central City/Beautys Grace) claimed a first full Trial Stake win for popular owner Danny Kane of Fethard Co.Tipperary last week when repeatedly gaining the upper hand in exciting buckles throughout a high quality qualifier.

Extremely modest and displaying a distinct lack of appreciation for limelight, Danny’s quiet demeanour could not mask his pride in this achievement however for the kennels of Margaret Barret & David Flanagan where he has a big part to play in her training. “I’m delighted with her. She’s very tough for such a young bitch, she’s only a June pup so was the youngest in the Trial Stake.”
Amelies Milly began her career at Fermoy when beaten at semi-final stage but defeat there could not dent Danny’s confidence in her ability.

“She was running well at Fermoy and in fairness she was unlucky in the semi-final but overall we were very happy with her. She came out of that very well and never missed a days work so the runs actually only improved her really. Kilsheelin was a tough stake and you wouldn’t say that she won any course handy, they were nearly all tight buckles, especially the final. She wasn’t favourite and Minella Babe is a very good bitch. It took Milly until well after halfway to get on top and she just edged in front from there, it was a great course.”

Helping out at Margaret & David’s kennels on an almost daily basis, Danny is ideally placed to report Amelies Milly in good order after he hard fought win. “She’s brilliant after it. She has nothing done since of course but she is in fine form. I’d say we’ll probably just get her a trial or two before Clonmel but competition wise I doubt she’ll be out.

Yeah I help out at the kennels every day of the week bar Sunday, but then again I could be in a coursing field of a Sunday! I’m there about ten years at this stage and I couldn’t be in a better place. Margaret & David are brilliant with their dogs and great to work with. They are just great people and I really couldn’t say enough good about them.

The bitch was bred there too of course so she was in the kennels when I bought her at about four or five months old and she’s the only one I have for coursing. I have a track dog with only one mark on his card so I’ll have him coming out soon enough but the kennels is still busy with the coursing. The lads also qualified a litter comrade at Waterford, Astana Rubie, and have two or three more along with them. We’ll be on the road again this weekend at two meetings but I’ll be heading for Knockgraffon!”

Bred by the Barret family, dam Beautys Grace has made a wonderful start to her breeding career. She herself ran up two Trial Stakes before an All Age Bitch victory at Thurles in 2013 and has three more contenders from her litter of five to Central City who are still in search of classic tickets. Being June pups they can be expected to improve throughout this campaign and should be followed with note as the season progresses on the evidence of her two winners thus far.

Danny Kane has trained many of his own dogs in the past and also helped out in other successful training kennels but has in fact only ever had three coursing dogs. This is his first full Trial Stake winner but he did have a Clonmel runner in 2010 when Lowesgreen Danny, owned in partnership with Pat “Fairy” McCormack, got his run in the classic following a Reserve win at Cappoquin.

“This is only my third coursing dog so I suppose I’m going alright. The last fellow didn’t run great in Clonmel, getting beat in the first round. So that’s the only target for now, get past round one!”

View the video at https://www.youtube.com/user/lettersonapostcard/videos


Ballyduff DTS

More Lies told over Booze at Ballyduff

Appropriately named considering that it contains two Ballyduff publicans, the Strike A Booze Syndicate again proved a lucky coursing venture when their Tellmemorelies (Newinn Wonder/Newinn Droopy) impressively earned his Derby ticket on home turf, giving his lucky owners their second classic contender with just their second dog!

Organising matters on the syndicate’s behalf, Mary Allen exclaims “Oh we’re over the moon. It was great to have a local winner at the local meeting. We’re very excited and really looking forward to Clonmel!

This is the second dog we’ve had in this syndicate and we won a Trial Stake back in 2013 at Rathkeale with Tellmenolies (Johnny Casanova/Newinn Model) but he didn’t make it to Clonmel so hopefully everything stays fine between now and February this time around. He was bought from Jim O’Donnell also and we went back to Jim again this time, he has been very lucky for us. His wife Shari Anne was in Ballyduff on Sunday to see him too, so that was great!

There was ten members in the last dog and we started off with seven this time around but that became ten again very quickly. It then went to thirteen and I said no way, we’re not having unlucky thirteen, so two more were dragged in and we settled on fifteen, three girls and twelve fellas! We have all sorts, doggy me, non doggy men, people that were never in a coursing field in their lives, publicans, farmers, family and friends. You name it, we have it!

Same as the last fellow, he was bought for fun. With that many in the syndicate you’re not going to be in it for money and he would never be for sale or anything but now that he has qualified it will get a bit more serious, especially for my brother Jimbob Allen who trains him. It’s a great achievement just to get to Clonmel, we’re fully aware how hard it is!

On the performances of Tellmemorelies this season Mary explains, “he started off in Charleville winning two rounds on the first day but he got a groin injury and there was too much risk in keeping him going, so he was withdrawn. We thought a bit of him before he ever coursed so it was any easy decision to be careful with him. He came back perfect but was a bit sluggish in his first course at Ballyduff. After that then he was impressive enough, pulling away once he got to the brow of the hill in all his courses and in fairness he won it well.

He’s a real quiet, sober type of dog. He lies down in the van and behaves himself, very easy to handle. A great thing to see from him was the way he was taking his courses. He was coming down the field with his mouth closed and he almost appeared to be improving round on round. That’s a good sign and with the way he runs from halfway you would have to say a long field like Clonmel will suit him. He’s bouncing after it all, he could run again this week. Hopefully he stays bouncing until February…..well January this year!

Growing up with greyhounds all her life, Mary and family were involved with track dogs through her parents who raced with the well known Frisky prefix. However, focus changed in 2003 when sister Anne found success on the coursing field with Annies Guest winning a Trial Stake and two All Age Bitch Stakes before being defeated in round one of the Grace Bruton Champion Stake to eventual winner Why Tanyard Jane.

“Well how would you not get the coursing bug after a bitch like that” exclaims Mary. “Coursing has taken over these days but even when we had all trackers, we were still all involved with the Ballyduff Club and sure you make great friends in the coursing!

Jimbob especially has done well. He’s only training coursing dogs about six years but he has won four Trial Stakes I think, a few more All Ages and some Duffers. Myself and Anne reared Tellmemorelies having bought him at 16 weeks and Jimbob has done a great job with him since. I have two more bitches here I’m training myself for this season but I’ll have to wait until near Christmas to get them out after a few setbacks.”

Mary reveals that there is in fact just one track dog still left in the kennels. However, there will hopefully be more on the way as Letmebelucky is to become the kennels next brood bitch having had her career cut short by injury. An open class full sister to Cashen Maureen, her pups are sure to be well sought after.

Talking to Mary, one is left in no doubt that greyhounds and all that comes with them are an inherent part of every day life for the Allen family. Fuelling their passion, they have extended the reach of coursing through the Strike A Booze Syndicate and in doing so, have ensured that Tellmemorelies will be one of the best supported runners at the Powerstown 2016 festival. If in the vicinity of Ballyduff, a call to syndicate members Brendan Purcell at the Village Inn or Pat O’Connor at the Hawthorn Bar is advised to keep abreast of Clonmel preparations or just to wish all involved the very best of luck!

Leaving the last word to Mary, “As you can imagine with fifteen of us, there is plenty of stories behind this fellow already. I just hope there is more stories before it’s all over. We have so many neighbours and friends that help us out, whether providing transport, collecting the pup the day he was bought while most of us were busy watching Kerry in the All Ireland semi-final or giving a hand galloping. There’s too many to mention them all but we are so grateful for all their help.

"Hopefully now everything goes fine between now and the Derby. We won’t expect anything but it would be a dream come true if we could make it to the third day and either way, we are going to have a big gang to cheer him on!”


Co.Cavan OTS

Well travelled Ma brings Oaks ticket Holme to Darren

All in the coursing community know the huge level of commitment and dedication needed to realise the dream of entering Powerstown Park in February with a classic contender. For one such hopeful this year, that level of effort is even greater than most because for Darren Holmes and his Co.Carlow Oaks Trial Stake winner Hey Ma (Razor Ashmore/Miss Candy Floss), an eleven hour trip from Coventry must be endured before even contesting a single course.

Involved in coursing for many years, Darren explains that his trips to Ireland to contest Trial Stakes came as a result of the ban in the UK. “It was hard to go without coursing when the ban came in over here so I started to buy one or two pups back about 6 or 7 years ago and this is my first Trial Stake winner. Yeah it’s a long trip over. I have four hours to drive before I even get the ferry and then another three and a half hours on the boat.

I stay with a good friend Gordon Rotheram at his kennels outside Kilenaule. I’d leave my home at 9pm on a Thursday and arrive at his door for 8am on Friday morning. You could do all that just to get beat in the first round too and that’s happened plenty of times!

I’m delighted with this win and I do consider it an achievement because firstly, Trial Stakes are so hard to win but it is more difficult over here. Like you’d drive ten minutes from Gordon’s in any direction and you’d find a good place to gallop your dog but I have to drive an hour and a half for a gallop to work the coursing dogs. Although, it’s all worth it this year!

Describing Hey Ma Darren continues, “She’s very laid back, nothing phases her really which helps with all the travelling. I was very happy with her at Carlow, she ran well. She got beaten in the third round at Crohane in her first outing but she was very green there. I didn’t get the chance to get her a trial anywhere so she just needed the education that she got there.

She was completely different in Carlow. She was really on her game and you could see her coursing her hare much better. I thought she probably needed a long field after Crohane but she showed much better early pace this time and that’s just down to being more tuned in I suppose, she knew what the job was about. We did have a bit of a scare though!

She picked up a toe injury on Saturday and it turns out it was dislocated so she will be off for 4 or 5 weeks which is far from ideal. I would have liked to get her out again around Christmas but it looks like it will be straight to Clonmel now. Losing those weeks of galloping is a concern but we’ll just have to deal with it.

I think Clonmel will suit her very well. She was a very short price before the final at Carlow so she must have been clocking well and in fairness to her she powered on up the field in the final. The runner-up is a good bitch, I thought she ran very well. She was right with our bitch early on but the way she went away after that, you have to think she’ll handle Clonmel.

It’s funny in Ireland, everyone is so mad to know the results as soon as possible. My phone was hopping within minutes with people congratulating me. It’s crazy how the news travels so quickly.”
Bred by Harvey Lavelle, Darren did in fact purchase Hey Ma from Pearse O’Hagan and reveals that there is a touch of luck involved that he got her at all. “I phoned him up and asked him what had he got for the season. The pups were about five months at this stage and he said he had a dog and a bitch. I’ve always liked Miss Candy Floss anyway and this being a repeat mating of a very good litter, I said I’ll have the bitch.

Anyway it turned out that there was a bit of confusion and the the bitch was going to someone else, so I was happy enough to take the dog. Shortly after that again, he tells me I have two bits of news for you, the dog is in great order and he’s yours if you want him but the bitch is available again! Well I took my chance to get the bitch and whoever was supposed to have bought her….well they’ve missed out on a Trial Stake winner!

Operating an extremely busy racing kennels in the UK where Darren’s partner Carol Weatherall holds the training license it is uplifting to hear from Darren just how proud he is to win a trial stake with his only coursing dog within an extremely high achieving track racing kennels. With over thirty racers, many of whom carry the Holdem prefix, the kennels are ever present on the British Open race scene and attending Clonmel will require more than a little organisation.

“We’ll have to get some help in that week. I would like to give her a trial in Powerstown and stay on then for the week with the bitch kennelled in Gordon’s. Of course Carol will want to be there too so we have to get organising something in plenty of time. Although compared to the last few years coursing, I have plenty of time now that she’s qualified. I’d usually be planning my next trip right up to the final weekend of Trial Stakes but in coursing terms, I’m here twiddling my thumbs for the next few months!”



North goes south for Truly exciting Listowel DTS win

Trial Stake victories do not come easy and Con Fitzgerald of Glin in Co.Limerick knows that fact only too well. Waiting forty years to bridge the family gap since last collecting a Clonmel classic ticket, the coursing gods were not about to end his wait without some further torture as two extremely close and exciting Sunday buckles put all connections through the wringer before eventually claiming their much coveted prize in Listowel’s Derby Trial Stake with True North (Adios Alonso/Jamaica Jane).

Clearly still on a high Con explains, “Oh Jesus I’m delighted, I’ve been waiting forty years for it. This is my first Trial Stake winner and we’ve had none since my dad won with Trill Silly at Galway & Oranmore in 1975. He had a few All Age winners alright but that was his only Trial Stake winner too.

"Actually myself and my son Kieran bought two of the litter and we own them together really, even though the dog is in my name and the bitch is in his. We were on the look out and had narrowed down our search to four brood bitches, Jamaica Jane being one of them. Michael O’Donovan mentioned that she had pups up the north and so we bought these two. The bitch is with Declan Byrne but she came in season shortly after going there so we’ll have to wait another while before she’s fully ready.

"We bought them from Erwin Birkmyre at around seven months and lord it was some journey up to his place in Antrim. I remember leaving Glin at 3.30am on the second day of January, meeting Kieran in Portlaoise and on to the kennels about twelve miles outside Belfast to knock on his door at 8.30am!

"Well he has a right set up. I’d say he’s some man to feed them and he insisted we didn’t pay for the pups until the day we were taking them away. We picked out our two and they were staying with Erwin to twelve months but I had to have a small operation, nothing serious but it meant I couldn’t pick them up on time. So I told him I’d be a month late and he said take as long as you like, insisting that he wouldn’t take any money for the extra rearing…wasn’t that fair sound of a man I only met once?!

"Erwin brought them to Dundalk one evening then and we took them home from there. The dog stood the whole way in the back of the van until we got to Glin. I had him for five or six weeks then before he went to Michael but I had galloped him and knew he could run. When I handed him to Michael I said, if you have one to lead this fellow, they’ll surely win a Trial Stake. Ah sure he has heard it all before but thankfully this time, I was right!

"He gave him a couple of trials then and was very happy with him. He said he had desperate early pace and it was Michael that said try get him into Listowel. It was all going great in the first few rounds then until we got the first scare against John Flynn’s dog in the quarter-final. He was in front alright but I think the other dog went to change sides and they had a right bump, sure anything could have happened there. I could hardly look, if you haven’t luck you have nothing.

"It didn’t get any easier after that! Oh my Jesus I never want to see anything like the semi-final ever again, it was so close, I hadn’t a clue who was up, you couldn’t separate them. Kieran was right up the top and even he said that you couldn’t have argued the decision either way, it was that tight.
With his early pace then I was confident enough in the final, thinking maybe a short slip might come and he’d lead. No, he didn’t lead and the Cooga dog came away well in fairness so we had to settle in for another buckle! And it wasn’t going to be a short one. They were neck and neck the whole way but our fellow showed guts at the top and even when you thought the hare had denied him, he drove across and took the turn.

Michael did say that about him though, he’s very determined and you’d find it hard to get the better of him in a battle. He reports him to be as fresh as a daisy after it too thank god.”

PRO of Glin Coursing Club, Con has been delighted with the reaction of his coursing mad community at home. “Yeah I’m PRO for the club, they said they needed someone that would talk! Ah no, we have a great club and we’re all very proud of the work that has gone in over the past few years and beyond. There has been a great buzz since we won the Trial Stake, people here would be delighted for you and we have a few more locals with qualifiers too so it’s great. I hope you’re ringing some of us again in February!”



Dani on the move in more ways than one at New Ross
Earning a quote of 14/1 for victory at Clonmel, Laurdella Dani (Adios Alonso/Jamaica Jane) caused a real stir when claiming her Oaks ticket in the Trial Stake at New Ross for Declan Kells of Dun Loaghaire in Dublin. Proud of the win and delighted with her performance, Declan did however break the news that she will compete at Clonmel for new owners as he was unable to resist “decent money”!

“I was delighted with the win, she was good now! You would have to be impressed with her but yeah I was made a very good offer and it was the right thing for me to sell. You know when you a family and kids it’s hard to turn down. I have only a small operation with dogs these days and I can actually only have three at any one time. If I had some land with the house, it might have been a different story, I’d love to keep her and breed with her but all I can do now is wish her new owners the very best of luck.”

Declan reports that Laurdella Dani was bought by John O’Sullivan and suspects that she might be syndicate owned and likely to be trained by Gerry Holian but also believes that her new owners have invested wisely as he is confident that she can improve for her first career outing at New Ross.

“I done a deal to buy her and her brother at twelve weeks old and they stayed with Erwin Birkmyre in Antrim until they were 14 months. He does an exceptional job rearing dogs and they arrived to me in great order but she was not over trained for New Ross. I was only walking her for the first month and she only had about ten or eleven gallops with one trial then getting her ready.

She is exceptionally keen and every little move a hare would make she was on it. She is so sharp from slips and her early pace is unbelievable. She absolutely bombed away in her semi-final and slipper Brian Doyle even commented that she’d actually get away from you if weren’t ready for her. She does everything right and actually gave an exhibition of hunting in all her courses.

Some might think with her early pace that she won’t be suited to Clonmel but I’d be certain that she will handle it no problem. She wasn’t going back in her clocks at New Ross and she certainly wouldn’t have been 1/6 in the final if she was. Also when you see the way her half sister Tynwald Jane ran Clonmel when runner-up in the Oaks, you have to say that Dani is a proper Oaks contender.
I’d be of the belief that the track has to come back into the coursing line every now and then. 

Whatever it is that Jamaica Jane is bringing to the coursing pups it just seems to suit ideally and Dani doesn’t seem to have a weakness. She is only 17 months old too, so between that and this being her first outing, she surely has to improve between now and February.”

Those of an older generation will recognise Declan’s Laurdella prefix as that of his grandfather Billy Mulvanney and despite only returning to the greyhound scene a little over two years ago, Declan has a long history in many branches of the greyhound racing world.

“My grandfather Billy was a huge influence in my life before his passing in ’84. I got a great upbringing and one of best memories was going to Andrew Myres kennels in Killarney as a young lad. He used to rear all our dogs back then and for a young dub it was great going down there and getting out the fields with pups. Billy gave me my first introduction to the Waterloo Cup when I was fifteen and for years after, that was the be all of everything in dogs for me. I’d take a trip to the Waterloo Cup over any dream holiday, it’s an awful shame that it’s gone.

I won it with Ballyglass Piper when I was seventeen the year Billy died and that’s a special win that will be treasured forever. I won the Plate with React Molly a couple of years after that too so it was lucky for me. I had kind of taken over from Billy at that stage but there was always my uncles Seamus and Billy Jnr involved also. I gave a number of years clerking for them at many tracks, mostly travelling with Billy and I did keep a book at Shelbourne for a couple of years but it was too hard to make a living from it, so I had to get a real job!

I was out of dogs then from ’97 until a couple of years ago and at the moment I have just three, well two after Dani being sold. Her comrade is here and I’ll probably get him out in early December. He just didn’t come to hand as quickly as the bitch so I’ll let him tell me when he’s ready. The other dog that’s here is Jacksons Lane. He’s retired now and sure he’d be on the couch with the kids and all, a real pet.

I know I’d only have three dogs at any time but I have to say I wouldn’t be able to get them done right without my son Kevin. He’d be up to help in the mornings and back at in the evenings, he deserves big credit for this win.”



Carozza keeps Bourke Trial Stake train rolling at Limerick City

Never far from the winner’s circle over the past number of seasons, the Bourke family kennels in Oola Co.Limerick maintained an impressive strike rate with a fantastic double win at Limerick City when their All Age Bitch Stake winner Outcast Snowy supplemented the game Oaks Trial Stake victory of Carozza on a glorious Sunday in Ballysheedy.

Owned by young Aifric Mockler with her grandmother Ann Bourke, Carozza (Kingsmill Dynamo/Rock Music) is trained by grandfather James Bourke who happily chatted about her exploits when winning on her first attempt and his family’s keen coursing interests. Better known as Seamus and with the sound of barking all round, he exclaims “we are delighted, it’s great to have a double. That won’t happen too often!

On the victory of Carozza he assesses her saying, “She could be a little bit better than what she looks. She clocked fast in the second round and I was really happy with her at that stage but she has soreness in a shoulder since the win and I’d say she might have been suffering a bit on that during Sunday. I was taking her to slips so I can’t really say but they seemed to be all tight courses enough on Sunday, she kept getting the flags though!

She’ll get a couple of weeks to get over it all now and I might try get her out in a puppy stake or something. If they’re right, I’ll keep them going. Only one can win in Clonmel so other than that you might as well try get them to pay their way. Having said that now I’d say Clonmel wouldn’t worry her. She seems to have pace at every stage of her courses.

I have one more of that litter still here, a big 100lb plus dog and after an early setback, I should have him out for his first run in a couple of weeks. I gave the bitch to Aifric and the dog to my grandson. Ah they’re only young kids yet but it’s great to see them involved. My own daughters are mad into the coursing too and Aifric’s mam Catriona is acting vet at a good few meetings.

Having also bred Carozza, the kennels really do have strength in depth with three highly talented brood bitches. Rock Music, herself a Trial Stake winner, threw Blazing Music who won a Trial Stake and All Age Cup along with Wheres Cranny who also claimed a Derby ticket and Kates Shoes who picked up an All Age Bitch Stake last season. Seamus also has Bank View and the dam of Limerick City All Age Bitch Stake winner Outcast Snowy, Lyrics, providing a steady flow of pacey pups. The latter threw winners in each of her first two litters but only had two racers in her third litter to Mafi Magic.

With neither winning a Trial Stake, Seamus explains, “I held on to Outcast Snowy, I knew she was decent. She was beaten in a final at Clonakilty last year but it was great to get her off the mark with a win on Sunday. All going well I’d hope to get her out in a couple of weeks time, maybe at Gorey. She’d need another win and probably a couple of more points on top of that again to make the Champion Bitch but I’m very happy with her and we’ll see how she goes.”

Confronted with the kennels good strike rate, an extremely personable Seamus replies, “Well I only usually keep two or three for each season, although I have five this year but I nearly always manage to pick up a Trial Stake. I had five once before, three pups who won Trial Stakes and two All Ages that won Cups but you still don’t take anything for granted. I know well how hard they are to win and fellows trying all their lives to win just one. So all of us here are delighted with every winner and especially happy to win two stakes last Sunday.

I’ve done ok at Clonmel down the years without reaching the very top. My first to reach a semi-final was back ’54-’55 when Ballyorgan went to the semi-final of the Oaks. I called another bitch after her then years after and she was a great brood with Kyle Ranger winning the Champion Stakes but she also brought me Innocent Man who went to the semi-final of the Derby in ’07 and Ballyorgan’s own dam I Remember also went to the semi-final of the Oaks, so I’ve been threatening the big one without just getting all the way.” Maybe this time Seamus!




Carlos gives Tanner a first classic runner in Mallow DTS

An improved performance from Clon Carlos at Mallow saw him claim a Derby ticket on his third outing of the season and will have his thrilled owner, Thomas Tanner of Clonakilty entering Powerstown Park in February with his first ever classic contender.

Beaten in the opening round at both Kilflynn and Fermoy, Tom’s confidence never wained as he explains that he fully expected him to improve as his season progressed. “He was just very green starting off and that’s what got him beaten the first couple of runs. It was only when he got to Mallow that he started coursing really. Oh I’m thrilled with him but I had every confidence that he could win when he got over the first day. He was an outsider nearly all the way but he was improving his clocks all the time.

I actually backed him on Sunday morning at 8/1. They didn’t think much of him when he was that price but I knew more than they did! I watched his mother win two Cups the same way, getting led out of slips and coming on hard from halfway. He was much the same and he won all his courses well in fairness. I’d say he’s the type that will just stay improving.

The mother was a bitch I liked and I saw her running many times. I know Ger O’Rielly well so I bought this fellow as a pup and fair play, I got the pick of the litter. It’s great to get the litter off the mark for him. He went straight to Denis O’Driscoll after I bought him and he’s there since. He has done a great job with him and I can’t thank him enough.

Anthony O'Dwyer with Clon Carlos

Tom refers of course to Bucks Honey (Adios Alonso/Funny Honey) who having won her Trial Stake at Ballyduff, reached the semi-final of the Spirit Of Mischief stake at Clonmel 2013. She returned the following season winning two All Age Bitch events at Castleisland and Ballyduff and has now broken her breeding maiden at the very first attempt with this mating to Kingsmill Dynamo. If the remainder of the litter can show similar progression to that of Clon Carlos at Mallow, they could be well worth noting in Trial Stakes as the year progresses.

Reporting his winner to be in good form after Mallow Tom adds, “Denis says he’s as fresh as a daisy after it all, it didn’t knock a shake out of him and he thinks the same as myself, that he’ll only improve from it. Myself I wouldn’t be that pushed about getting him out again before Clonmel but we’ll just see how things go and make that decision in time. He’s the only dog I have for this year so I can just look forward to Clonmel now.”

Having gone close in the past, this was an especially pleasing victory for the former Clonakilty Coursing Club Vice President and he is delighted to finally be entering Powerstown Park with a runner.

“Yeah this is my first Trial Stake winner. I ran up two times before so I’m just thrilled to finally get one. I’m a lot of years going to Clonmel and it’s going to be a big difference going there with a runner but sure aren’t we the lucky ones, their hard to win!”



Matt finally gains Access to Oaks at Ballinagar

Trial Stake victories do not come easy! A simple statement to make but not so easy to live through the close calls and narrow defeats for years on end in pursuit of an elusive ticket for a Powerstown classic. It is little wonder then that celebrations in the aftermath of Ballinagar Oaks Trial Stake success for the Lost Wallet Syndicate’s Accessibility (Adios Alonso/Aslee Annie) continued long into the night when she ended a lifetime drought for syndicate chief Matt Bergin of Rathdowney Co.Offaly.

Upon receiving the request for an interview, a delighted Matt replied “Well, we’re that long waiting for it, I’m not going to say no! Although we done so much celebrating after it, I hope the second one doesn’t come along for a couple of months at least!

I’m in dogs practically all my life going back through my dad Paddy’s time and this is the first Trial Stake winner we ever had, so it’s fair to say we are all delighted, the pressure is off now! We had all sorts of hard luck stories down the years and I even had a bitch one time that was beat seven times, Boynepark Maggie and the seven bitches that beat her ended up in the Oaks at Clonmel.

Paddy did breed Owens Sedge so he actually won a Derby as a breeder but never a Trial Stake. He was secretary in Rathdowney for years and sure coursing was everything. He passed away in ’09, he was into his eighties but I tell you’d have to be holding him on the end of a rope to keep down, he’d be on such a high if he was here for this.

She beat Patterdale Vera in the final and Paddy would have known Roger Mounsey in his time. I wouldn’t have begrudged them at all, lovely people but there was still a right roar went up when we got the flag. There was nearly a hundred years of frustration in those cheers!”

Beaten in round two at Edenderry, Accessibility was winning at the second time of asking but Matt did suspect she might be decent even before her first outing. “I did think she could run a bit but she practically trained herself in the beginning. She did lots of free running and loved working. I only really got serious with her about two weeks before Edenderry. She was leading alright but other than that she was only out around the fields.

She was a bit unlucky in Edenderry I suppose but I always start off thinking I won’t win so there wasn’t much new! She was off her hare for a while in the second round there which you wouldn’t think could happen the way she ran in Ballinagar, she was sizing them up all the way! I was at the bottom of the field and she was leading out of slips every time and from where I was, she didn’t ever look like getting beat anyway. The clocks were fairly good compared to the All Age bitches too so you’d have to be happy.

She’s in great form after it all, one hundred percent sound. I’m not joking I could go with her again now, I don’t know how I’m going to keep her amused until February. I definitely think she’s one that needs to be kept busy. I’ll maybe think about a Puppy Stake for her. I’ve not been in the position before but I’ll think about it, ask advice and then make up my own mind but we were never fond of sparing them and I don’t think I’ll start now!”

The Lost Wallet Syndicate consists of many members from the Bannon, Bergin and Coffey families with Matt exclaiming that “anyone who wanted to be in it, could be in it! The name just came from one of the young lads when he lost his wallet after his communion and the bitches name was totally random.

I have few more for the season and actually have a brother of her’s but he won’t be out for another couple of weeks with a small setback. I reared two for two from the litter for Paddy Donovan and it’s a breeding line I like so I’m delighted I could get a winner for Paddy too. I train her myself here but I have loads of people to thank. Kevin Coffey is my right hand man all the time but my own sister Clare and Jim Coss are always a big help, they are secretary and chairman in Rathdowney where Eugene and Shane Hearns maintain the gallop for us.

I have to thank my wife Noreeen and son Josh too who are always a great help. Noreen kept supporting through all the losing times and even though not a greyhound woman herself, she understood the tradition with me and dad, and there was never complaints wherever we took off to for coursing.

In closing, Matt was all praise for the Ballinagar club, thanking all involved for a great meeting. “They are a great club and always have their hares in top condition. They looked after us very well and there was plenty of them roaring along with us in the final. Sure they’re half local to us to all of us here anyway so it was a good place to win. We were definitely in the right field, on the right day!.......but I still went and got the Sporting Press this morning, to make sure that she did actually win!



Missouri has rivals on the Rocks at Fermoy

Fermoy Coursing Club’s midweek meeting on the 14th & 15th of October brought an impressive Derby Trial Stake win for the uncle and nephew combination of Sean DeBurca & Ian Bourke when Missouri Rocks maintained an admirable strike rate for the kennels over the past season’s since first branching out into Coursing having previously being solely concentrated on the track.

Natives of Oola but now training from Sean’s kennels in Kilmallock, Ian Bourke explains “myself and Sean do the dogs together but he is definitely the boss man! I work in Dublin and get home to help him as much as I can. I’m lucky enough to have fairly flexible hours so I’m there as often as possible.

Sean would have had all trackers up to about five years ago but then I started buying one coursing pup for each season and we’d own them together but the coursing has almost taken over from the track at this stage. He has five coursing dogs now, three for this year and two pups with only two trackers!

Myself I wouldn’t have much interest in the track compared to the coursing even though I have had some trackers. I did recently breed a litter of trackers from a well bred bitch I came into but I actually sold them all, so that will tell you!

We have done fairly well I suppose. We’ve had three Trial Stake winners before this fellow. Missouri Dame, My Mable and Morning Major all won for us in that time but we have yet to reach the final day in Clonmel, maybe this time!

On the victory of Missouri Rocks Ian explains “we knew he was decent alright but he wasn’t over prepared for it, we were really only looking for a run for him. He had two gallops and two trials is all but you wouldn’t think that the way he was going. He was in great form after every course and practically recovered by the time he was back at the van each time. He has proper early pace and in fairness he was winning his courses well.

He held his clock the whole way through which I was surprised at, you would have thought he must go back but no, so that’s a great sign. He got a bit of a winding hare in the final and kind of followed it’s every move, so that was his closest call but he ran very game to stay in front. He’s a real genuine type. He’s in great form after it all, he’d run for you again today if he had to! We’ll get him out again before Clonmel and Old Kilcullen is the target at this stage.

Ian Bourke with Missouri Rocks

I have to thank all the Fermoy crew too. The field was in great knick and I know you don’t see everything when you have a runner but I didn’t see a hare touched. They looked after us well when it was all over too. They fed us, watered us and even sang for us, they were great craic!

Although not official on his card at time of print, Ian confesses that Missouri Rocks is half owned by the Warden Syndicate which was formed amongst his co-workers who are all, like Ian, prison wardens. “We formed a syndicate at work for a coursing dog for this season with twelve of the lads. However things didn’t work out so well and when it became apparent that he wouldn’t make the field, I gave them a share in this fellow for the year. I didn’t want them to have paid money and not even get a run for it. There’s one thing for certain, we will have some support in Clonmel with all these lads and they’ll bring plenty more along with them, they are a great bit of craic!

Wearing out the road between home and his work in Dublin, Ian also returns to Oola for Gaelic Football training and lined out at centre forward when Oola recently won the Limerick Intermediate County Final. “We had a great a win in the County Final and have a Munster quarter-final coming up this Sunday (Oct 25th). There is actually four from my home house on the team. There is more Football players in the Warden Syndicate too and even two senior inter-county players, so after coursing that takes up the rest of the spare time.”

Throughout the conversation Ian heaps praise on Sean De Burca and gives all the training plaudits to his Uncle. Now in Kilmallock he reports him to be very busy in preparation for the upcoming meeting at Ardpatrick Kilfinane and himself is proud of his own affiliation with Tipperary & District meeting where he will act as Vice Secretary this season.

We wish him and Oola GAA the best of luck going forward in the Munster Football Championship and the same for Missouri Rocks who, following Ian & Sean’s generous donation of a half share, will have a huge cheering section that may rival some of the loud vocal enthusiasm that has added greatly to the festival over the past seasons. A former fantasy coursing, Ian is clearly a shrewd student of form so it would only be prudent to check back in and get his thoughts on the chances of Missouri Rocks, closer to the festival. So watch this space!




Banba views Oaks tilt after impressive Loughrea win

Owned by father and son combination of Paddy & Stephen McIntyre in Shercock Co.Cavan, Oakview Banba (Johnny Casanova/Oh Banba) returned an extremely impressive Oaks Trial Stake win at Loughrea and delights connections who will proudly take their chance at Powerstown Park despite many advances from prospective buyers having qualified at her very first attempt.

Owner trained, Paddy describes the win saying “We are delighted with her. We couldn’t have asked any more of her. She was fit going there in fairness and looked very good on the gallop in training. We thought Loughrea would suit her well with a long stretch and a good pull, it was very similar to what she was galloping on already and she looked a real Clonmel type all weekend.

She is busy from slips and is actually only 66lb weight but she was pulling away after about 50 yards each time and running the hill brilliantly. She won all her courses well and the clocks were very good throughout so we are very happy. We haven’t had one as good as her for a while and she’s plenty tough enough for anything too. She got a nice bit of work in her second course Saturday evening and I thought she would be doubtful on Sunday morning but she woke up bouncing and never looked back.

I’ve had offers since she won, I’ve had a few offers! But she is not for sale. We are going to Clonmel with her and that is that. We think it will really suit her and that’s what they were all saying while trying to buy her. I appreciate their interest and am glad that they think she can be a contender in the Oaks but we’ll be going there with her ourselves! Now I just hope she stays sound, usually when you refuse to sell, something goes wrong!

For now though she is in great form. She was in to get everything checked and there isn’t a thing wrong with her. We will more than likely get her out somewhere before Clonmel, maybe in a Puppy Stake. It’s a long time between now and the Oaks and I just think she’s the type that would want an outing.

Loughrea suited her and we did kind of target there for her first outing but I have to say it was a good choice. It was good coursing and everything seemed to go very smooth. The hares were good and I can’t remember a hare being touched. I don’t know what watering they were doing but there was actually a bit of sponge to the ground if you dug your heel in, so well done to all involved.”

Bred by Ashley Mangan of Crecora Co.Limerick, Oakview Banba is a first Trial Stake winner for dam and 2012 Oaks semi-finalist Oh Banba and Paddy is delighted to provide that first winner for a breeder he describes as “salt of the earth”.

“I bought her from Ashley and I think I actually got the last of the litter that was available. I’m delighted that we got a winner for her, she is just a lovely person. I swear the bitch was hardly caught after the final when Ashley was on the phone, I couldn’t believe she rang so quick. If she hadn’t, it wouldn’t have been long before I got on to her anyway. I did go looking for more pups out of Oh Banba for next year but unfortunately she doesn’t have runners for next season but I will definitely be back for more out of Oh Banba.

The McIntyre family are no strangers to coursing success both in the field and in the breeding paddocks which included Ballybeg Blaze who threw Murtys Blaze and Granard Blaze among many others. Oakview Banba is a likely future brood for the kennels also as Paddy reports that he unfortunately has nothing left of that line that brought him Trial Stake success with Paddys Treasure.

The kennels have had five or six Trial Stake winners in the past including Oakview Flyer and Precious Lisa who was their best performer in Powerstown Park. “Precious Lisa went to the quarter-final of the Oaks for us in 2003 but she used to take a lot out of herself by going back down to slips after every course, so she wasn’t helping herself but sure that’s all you can hope for when you’re in Clonmel is to get to the last day. That will be the ambition again this time and we’ll take what comes after that!”




Home ground smells of Roses in Westmeath OTS

David Carr’s Killucan Rose (Johnny Casanova/Your Symbolic) scored an impressive Oaks Trial Stake win at Westmeath Utd which truly filled all the criteria for a home win and delights her owner of Brutonstown Killucan, even if mistakenly registered in his brother Declan’s name!

Having initially contacted Declan to offer congratulations, he swiftly and honestly reveals that “David is the man you should be talking to about this one! There was a mistake made with the forms and she is actually belonged to David. We did spot it when the cards came back but sure it didn’t matter all that much and I said to him, you may leave it as it is, it might be all for luck!”

There is however every reason for Declan to share in the success as part of the syndicate that bred this litter from Your Symbolic. “We got a syndicate together a number of years ago to buy a dog. It started over a few pints in Clonmel with myself, David, Leo Walsh and Tom Price. We are all Westmeath Utd members and Tom does the catering there, at Castletowngeoghan and Cavan. He never had a dog before that so it was great that his first one turned out good.

I’ll let David tell you the rest, himself and my dad Kevin are the main men at home with the dogs. I can’t take the credit and I definitely won’t be getting the cheque either!”

So, armed with some background information it was on to David for more about Killucan Rose and expressing delight at having won a Clonmel ticket so early in the season he explains, “It’s great to get an early win but we did know she was alright getting her ready. Even in her last gallop that week I said, this one will surely put in a few rounds and thankfully she was able to go all the way.

I still didn’t back her though. I never back my own, if I did I’d only stop her. She’s bouncing after it all, really took it very well. She’ll get a couple of weeks off now and the plan will be to head for Old Kilcullen with her.

It’s great to get the litter started with a winner. None of the rest have been out yet but you would have think that it is very promising on the evidence of this one. The dam was a lovely bitch and won a Trial Stake for us at Balbriggan but ran into Emmas Goldrush in the first round of the Oaks! 

There was six in the litter and they have all stayed within the syndicate. Five of them are here with us and Leo Walsh has the other. There’s a couple of big dogs in it so they may take another few weeks to appear. She missed last time and won’t have pups for next year but she is due to fall perfect again this season so hopefully she can have more luck this time.”

Killucan Rose bridged a twenty year gap for David as an owner in his own right when landing this Trial Stake but the Carr’s have not been devoid of success in the interim. “The last Trial Stake winner I had myself was a Derby qualifier and he also won at Westmeath but never got to take his place at Clonmel, so this will actually be my first runner at Powerstown. I did of course have Your Symbolic with the lads a few years ago and my Dad has had Trial Stake winners in that time too but unfortunately, none of us have got down to business end in a big one.”

A working member of the host club, David was delighted with the meeting at Westmeath Utd saying “it was great coursing. The lads did brilliant work with the hares and I’m very proud of the meeting. Coming away with a winner of course makes it easier to say but it was a successful weekend all round.

I always say be grateful for every Trial Stake win and make the most of it. We’ll certainly do that because the next one could be a long time coming!”



Flynn’s Easy Rhythm brings Trial Stake Free for all!

One of the most successful Trial Stake kennels of modern times, the Flynn family of Tarbert Co.Kerry have spent many recent seasons in an enviable position, working hard for three days over the Clonmel Festival with talented classic contenders. 2016 will be no different for coursing mad family following a super Sunday on the 11th of October when guiding both Rhythm And Rhyme and Free And Easy to Trial success at Ballyheigue and Regional respectively.

Taking his place in the Derby will be Rhythm And Rhyme (Razor Ashmore/Quality And Dash) after his impressive performance at Ballyheigue which sees him head the list of current qualifiers with sponsors Boylesports at 25/1. Owned by father and Son combination John & Kieran Flynn, John explains 

“He’s a very nice pup and the litter look to be very good. We qualified his sister Graceandglamour for the Oaks at Glin and ran up the Oaks Trial Stake at Ennis Clarecastle with another bitch Vim And Vigour, so we are having a great run with them.

Kieran got to know to know breeder Seamus O’Meara through work and is responsible for our connection with the line. We had a nice dog with Bold And Brazen who won for us at Glin, out the same bitch a couple of seasons ago so it has been a lucky breed for us. We have three of that litter for this year so it’s just Vim And Vigour left to qualify and we’ll be hoping that she can get a run in the Galway & Oranmore meeting, back in the Glin field, all going well!”

Present at Ballyheigue as part of the “A team” and having held up his side of the bargain, John was waiting for word of how Free And Easy (Kingsmill Dynamo/Blades Of Glory) fared in her Oaks Trial Stake final at Regional when entrusted to the “B team” of Eoin & Conor Flynn. Good news was imminent and John admits to being delighted with her win, even if a little in the dark as to her chances beforehand.

“She is a really nice type of bitch but not that impressive in her work at home so I didn’t really know what to expect from her. I suppose she is just like a lot of them, you have to give them a run before you see the best of them and with her breeding I shouldn’t be that surprised really. You would have to say she has great resilience. She got a good bit of work in the semi-final but picked herself up well, so that’s a great sign. I think Eoin & Conor will have to be the permanent B team now as Kieran was in charge at Ennis when we got beat…..!”

An amiable and approachable Coursing family led by a very modest John, the Flynn’s have now won three Trial Stakes in a wonderful start to the season. There can however be no doubt that they have given themselves every chance on breeding and the two qualifiers featured here can be expected to take plenty of beating in the classics. Last year’s Brood Bitch Of The Year, Blades Of Glory has added a Reserve Derby ticket to her impressive breeding haul with Blades Of Music at Kilflynn while Ballyverry Razor made it three qualifiers already for Quality And Dash when successful at Fermoy.
Including the previously unmentioned Aisling & Grace,

John Flynn with daughters Grace & Aisling

John describes the coursing as a real family affair. “Everyone helps out with the dogs whenever they can. They are all out and about, working away but make it home for the weekends and there is always one or other of them around for galloping during the week if needed. They all bring something to the kennels! During the week it is mainly myself and wife Joan getting through the few jobs and she is a great woman for the injuries, a good way about her with dogs!”

We have ten pups for the season so this is a great start, I just hope that it will continue! They are hard to win, even when you’re going well. We had our first one back in ’89 and sure the biggest days were with Hopes And Dreams winning the Champion Stakes in 2013 and of course Somelittlething winning the Oaks a year later. However, I have to say they are rivalled for the best day I ever had coursing by High And Mighty winning his eight stake in his fourth season in the Galbally Cup. That meant a lot for a dog that was very special to us.”

Asked as to the well being of Oaks heroine Somelittlething he reports her to be very well and she will have 3 dogs and 4 bitches for Trial Stakes next season from her mating with Hopes And Dreams, who himself has two litters for next year. Sturdyandstaunch will be the kennels sole All Age runner this year and John expects that he can improved for a recent appearance in the semi-final at Glin.

John reports all his qualifiers in good order after the victories with little more than expected bits and pieces to work on. Clearly in great form and with entries over the coming weeks, it may pay to follow the Flynn camp closely and their Trial Stake assault in 2015/16 looks as strong as any of their admirably successful previous campaigns.

View Regional Photos HERE



Manley’s Girl the star Attraction in Ennis OTS

The 2016 Coursing Oaks found a qualifier at Ennis Clarecastle who shot to the top of the outright betting market with a stunning performance throughout a dominant Trial Stake victory when John & Denis Manley’s Manley Girl (Wallace Green/Class Attraction) bridged a gap of 44 years since connections last had a runner in Powerstown Park!

A delighted Denis Manley of Kanturk, clearly still excited by her brilliant performance describes the win saying “Oh, she’s a good one alright!

I bought her at 3 months old from Con Guiney and sure she is exceptionally bred. Like everyone, I saw her dam run lots of times and she was just brilliant, hopefully our girl can be as good. She was impressive at the weekend in fairness, winning her courses well and stretching on the further up the field they went. Her clocks were very good compared to the All Ages too, so yeah, we’re delighted!
Denis refers of course to the brilliant Class Attraction who thrilled the coursing world across four successful seasons. 

Winning her Trial Stake at Johnstown & Urlingford, she went on to claim six All Aged Bitch Stakes along with the Champion Bitch Stake at Clonmel in 2011 before returning to run up the same event in 2012. She threw her first Trial Stake winner through Manntan Maple in her first litter to Mafi Magic and looks set for more breeding successes on the evidence of Manley Girl’s victory.

Denis continues, “She showed herself to to be useful from very early on. I always had her busy rearing her up with help from my friends and neighbours Gerry Meehan and Humphrey O’Riordan. She was rarely idle, we’d always have her out doing something, either in the fields or she could be in the Blackwater river having a swim! I work an office job so it was therapy for me getting her out walking and she got lots of it!
Manley Girl, now a big Oaks fancy!

She was very fit going to Ennis, as you’d expect with Con Guiney but we also had her well galloped on Tom O’Sullivan’s gallop before she went to him. She’s just a good forward type, a real healthy bitch. She has taken it all well too and Con reports her in good form. She didn’t lose a ounce of weight over the two days, in fact she probably put up half a pound!”

“We did get a scare on Saturday though. She drove hard into the turn in her second course and took 3 or 4 summersaults. She was sore enough after that and there was some doubt about running her on Sunday but she’s that tough type and once she got the quarter-final over her, she loosened up again and she was fine. Like I said, she’s in good order after it so no ill effects.

That’s in no small part down to the field in Ennis too I have to say. I don’t know how many tanks of water they put on it but they definitely got it right. I could hardly believe how good it was. I was running in across to catch her and the ground was actually spongy, so they deserve big praise.

She is the only coursing dog we have for the year and it’s great to be going back to Powerstown with a runner. We were reared with greyhounds at home and the last time we had a runner in Clonmel was with my Dad James’s dog, Peadars Prize. He won the Keen Laddie Stakes back in 1972 but went on to win 9 Cups after that. He won 66 courses in Open company and I think that’s still a record to this day! We didn’t have dogs all the time in the meanwhile though, I was out of dogs for years and this is the first one back, so it’s great to be back with a good one.”

“She’ll have a good rest now and I don’t know if we’ll get her out again before Clonmel but any final decision on that will be made by Con. Sure I couldn’t say enough about how good that man is. The attention to detail with him is just frightening. We had a track dog with him too until last week, Castlemagner (Shaneboy Lee/Newmarket Way) the only other dog we had. He won a stake in Cork in 28.23, a right run but he was actually sold after the semi-final when he done 28.38, so we’re all having a good run of form!”

Joint owner and Denis’s brother John Manley is currently resident in the UK but is no less excited about the prospect of entering the Oaks with a live contender. Confronted with her short priced quote of 14/1 Denis replies “there is a lot of bitches to appear out for the Oaks yet! I’ll be plenty nervous when the time comes but she has to get there fit and ready first of all. It’s pure luck to come into the game with one as good as her and we’ll see what comes. It’s just great to be going back!”

View Ennis Clarecastle Photos HERE



Early season fitness Not Really a problem in Kilflynn Oaks

Modest as you like, Alphonsus Tubridy of Mullagh village near Quilty in Co.Clare, when congratulated on his Oaks Trial Stake win at Kilflynn with Not Really (Kingsmill Dynamo/Wilton Millie) simply replied “it was a good win alright”. However, his calm demeanour could not disguise a proud sense of achievement at the victory which now vindicates his wise purchase of her exceptionally well bred dam despite the fact that she failed to raise a flag herself!

Wilton Millie (Bexhill Eoin/Tango Time) comes from a breeding line that needs little introduction and is a litter sister to 2010 Oaks runner-up Needham Time and a half sister to such runners as Gadget Girl, Atlantic Diva among many other impressive types.

Al explains “myself and Martin Keane bought her after her puppy season and only ran her once in the all age at Miltown Malbay. She was beaten there and never ran again but she was always going to be for breeding. We hadn’t much luck with her first litter to Razor Ashmore. There was a few of them that could run a bit alright, reaching semi-finals but just didn’t win!

In this litter to Kingsmill Dynamo we had 2 dogs and 4 bitches. We split them down the middle and Martin got a dog and a two bitches and I kept the rest here. I have sold the dog since so I just have the sister left now and unfortunately Martin only has one bitch now too. He had some desperate luck with the bad floods during the year and long story short, he lost two of the pups to the floods, it was an awful thing to happen. Sure all you can say to him is she might be the one to win the Oaks for you after all that bad luck.”

On the victory at Kilflynn Al is delighted with Not Really and gives the training plaudits to Michael Nestor of Miltown Malbay. “Michael is training her and actually ended up taking her because he gave me a hand last year when I was in a bit of bad health and he took a shine to her early on. He has done a great job, she was awful fit going to Kilflynn and it stood to her. We have a place to gallop her and I’m able to water if it gets too hard so that was a big plus.

She should love it up Clonmel, I really think a long field will suit her. Most of her courses were tight enough until around halfway but she was just pulling out steadily after that. She’s in great form after it all, took it very well. It would be a long time idle between now and the Oaks so all going well we will get her out at least once but won’t even think about that for about the next six weeks.

Al was very gracious in victory with praise a plenty for the host club and his beaten rivals. “Kilflynn was in great order, the whole thing ran like clockwork, no waiting around or delays. If you went there looking to find fault, well you wouldn’t have found it! It was great coursing and for certain, the three bitches that were there with us on Monday morning will win trial stakes.”

When asked if her sister Talking Siofra was as smart as Not Really Al revealed “not at the moment anyway and maybe not overall. I’d see the winner as a proper Oaks bitch but this one should go close in a trial stake. She’s entered in Ennis Clarecastle this week and so is Martin’s bitch but I don’t think she’ll win this one. I would expect her to give a good account the next time though!”

In the game for many years Al has won trial stakes in the past when in joint ownership with friends Dan Gallery and Paddy Cooney but admits that Not Really is the first he has owned himself, and there may be more to come. Wilton Millie had two dog pups to Kyle James in March having missed a chance to breed when breaking too late the previous season but Al is hopeful that her season can fall just right for her next mating.

It is never easy to evaluate form so early in the season but Al’s assertion that his Monday rivals will go on to join him in the Oaks holds some merit as the clocks compared favourably with a high class all age event at the meeting and we may have seen a real Clonmel contender unveiled on our first week back in 2015/16.

View Kilflynn Photos HERE



Adios Liscannor as Pumpkins make big Return

One of the most prominent and recognisable names in the sport, the Thompson family of Abbeyfeale Co.Limerick and their “Pumpkin” prefix had been conspicuous by it’s absence from the classic card at Powerstown Park over the past couple of seasons. However, the kennels have well and truly kick started their 2016 campaign by claiming a Derby ticket on the opening weekend at Liscannor having found themselves in a truly unique position, guiding both their entries to the Trial Stake final.

Pumpkin Adios (Adios Alonso/Pumpkin View) will advance to the Derby after coming out on the right side of a final toss against Pumpkin Return (Judicial Affair/Pumpkin Aviva) which trainer Jody Thompson concedes was the best outcome.
Pumpkin Adios

“Well if anyone is wondering, there was a proper toss which I didn’t think there had to be. I was going to withdraw Pumpkin Return and that wasn’t just to let Adios win. Return had taken a bit of a knock and would have been doubtful for a final anyway. But, I was told we had to toss, so we did and in that regard it was the right outcome from the toss.”

When asked which of them would have won all being level, he responded “I’d have Pumpkin Return ahead of the winner if I’m honest but in reality they both surprised me. It’s very seldom you go to a Trial Stake and realise that the two dogs are better than you thought they were, it’s usually the other way around! Although I did back the Return lad at 6/1 and I hardly ever back them. Sure you couldn’t have written the script for it.

Maybe years ago when Trial Stakes were harder to fill you might have dreamt of getting two into a final but not these days, like I say, you couldn’t write the script, that won’t happen too often! It’s a great start to get. We came up dry since Pumpkin Pines won a reserve in Johnstown in 2012 but we always nearly had 2 or 3 winners before that and even had 5 one year and 4 another.”

Although favouring Pumpkin Return over his Derby qualifier, Jody does admit that Pumpkin Alonso is well entitled to improve for his first outing as he is a late May pup and his next appearance is likely to be in the Corn Na Feile. “Abbeyfeale would be on the cards for him but he won’t be overworked given his age. As for the runner-up, he has been checked over and he’s fine. We’ll give him a few weeks and look to get him out again some time after that.”

A busy breeding kennels, the Thompson’s have runners from three litters this year and have three more comrades to Pumpkin Return to appear soon, possibly this weekend at Ballyheigue. Liscannor winner Pumpkin Adios will be the sole representative from his litter but there is also three further dogs from the mating of Central City with Killalon Pumpkin which Jody describes as promising.
Jody is of course a well known figure on the track scene as racing manager at Thurles Greyhound Stadium and is very proud of the Tipperary venue, continuing to fight it’s corner through tough economic times for the sport. I put it to him that the manager’s gig can be a thankless job and he replied, “I love it. There’s a great crew at Thurles and sure anyone that barks at me, I just bark back twice as hard.

Pumpkin Return
Coursing is definitely the first love though, we live for it. Everything we do revolves around coursing, it’s a real family thing for us. All the dogs are in my Dad Joe’s name and all the bitches are in my Mam Marie’s, but it doesn’t really matter, we all own all of them in reality. We do get great help from a good friend Michael Quirke who I must thank. He was all into trackers until we won the 2008 Kitty Butler with Pumpkin Hayes but he’s mad into the Coursing since then and is with us since.

She was our best Powerstown performer and now that you’ve asked me, we haven’t reached the final day in a classic at Clonmel. We had plenty beaten on the Tuesday evening alright. While I’m thanking people, we better mention my wife Marie, she has plenty to put up with and despite the fact that she only once stood in the kennels, she is a great support! 

There is also two young men, sons of Johnny Collins in Thurles who have a big part to play for us. Every summer I drop up 2 or 3 dogs at a time to Padraig & Sean for lead training, a bit of handling and general socialising. They do a brilliant job and deserve big credit.”

Having performed above expectations at Liscannor, Pumpkin Adios and Pumpkin Return make it safe to presume that the Thompson family have a very strong team that can continue to contest prominently throughout the season. Fully appreciative of how rare and fortunate a situation he found himself in on the opening weekend, Jody signs off with great praise for the Co.Clare host club.

“Liscannor ran a superb meeting from start to finish. The condition of the hares was top class and every hare was turned. I know it’s easy say it when you win but the standard of slipping and judging was 10 out of 10 and I can’t thank everyone enough.”

View Liscannor Photos HERE

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