2017 Coursing Interviews



Darren’s turn comes Round in Thurles surprise

With the 2016 Coursing season is now in full swing, aspiring classic contenders will be arriving at meetings around the country prepared to show their best form following meticulous preparations. However, while Clonmel’s Darren Smith had his Its Your Round (Killimor Matey/Cunninghams Jet) ready to begin his season in earnest at Thurles a fortnight ago, his Derby Trial Stake victory there came very much as a surprise and a delighted Darren explains that he was “only really going there for a spin”!

Owned by the Browne-Houlihan-Smith Syndicate, Its Your Round is trained by Darren and delighted to have claimed his place in the classic he admits that they had luck on their side at Thurles and that entry there was only intended as a first step in his season’s preparations.

“Oh we’re over the moon to have won but it was a surprise to be honest, he was only really going there for a spin. He had his tonsils out about four or five weeks beforehand and he only had about seven or eight gallops getting ready so he wasn’t really done for it.

“Ah we got a bit of luck in fairness and if he had gotten anything approaching a hard hunt, I wouldn’t have kept him going, he would have been pulled out. But having said that, you know yourself that can be a hard call to make when you’re in the thick of it!

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“I was taking him to slips so I couldn’t see much up the top of the field and I wasn’t looking at any clocks so I didn’t really know where he stood. But I saw him at 8/1 with the bookies and 10/1, then back to 8/1 so I knew he must have been behind. Still, he woke up fresh enough on Sunday morning so i let him take his chance.

“Although, I did do a bit on humming and hawing because he was meeting Kyle Jamie who seemed to be flying and when he got led out of slips by him in the quarter-final, you would have thought that was that! But he crossed behind him before halfway and came with a winning run. I’d say the Kyle dog must have lost the hare or something but that was our bit of luck.

“He has a bit of early pace alright and I’d say that’s a trend of the litter but he seemed to running on well at the top also. In reality though, we are still a little in the dark with him, simply because he wasn’t fully done going there.

“To look at him though, you’d think he was done to death. He’s only a handy size at about 78lbs but he’s a natural athlete and looks a picture. He’s in great form after it all and we’re lucky again that he didn’t get any real heavy work. The hares were very good and the club ran great meeting, we have to thank them for everything.”

The victory at Thurles is a first Trial Stake winner for Darren and his best previous experience came through All Age success with Glenlea Sonny who won Cups at Knockgraffon and Thurles on his way to defeat in the first round of the Champion Stakes in 2014.

The experience of that highly successful season may now influence on his Derby preparations and he continues, “Glenlea Sonny won his second Cup in Late November that year and I can remember looking back thinking that we should have gotten back out before Clonmel. I just thought we should have kept him going while he was in form so this time, I think we’ll get Its Your Round out again before the Derby.

“I’d imagine that Old Kilcullen might be the plan for the puppy stake if we could get in there. I think I’d prefer that to an All Age. Also you would have it in the back of your head that you might want to see him galloping a hill somewhere but we’ll see how things go.”

Involved with greyhounds through family all his life, dam Cunninghams Jet is owned by brother Tony Jnr and the remainder of the litter are owned within the family by him and and dad Tony Snr. Whelped down by good friend Paul King who also has a comrade to contest Trial Stakes, this is a very pleasing winning start for their brood bitch in her very first litter.

Delighted to be involved in ownership with good friends, Darren explains that for Colm Browne and Fergus Houlihan, Its Your Round is their first ever greyhound. “Yeah this is their first time with a dog. Fergus was actually getting married a while back and it just happened that I said I’ll give him a share of the dog so it was more or less a wedding present. Sure it was better than buying him a toaster!

“Ah they’re delighted. We had a right few drinks on the Sunday night and they going around with the Cup everywhere, it’s great. They’re already talking about buying the next dog straight away. The hard part now will be making them realise that it’s not that easy!

“But we’ll enjoy it anyway and we’ll head to Powerstown determined to have more craic. We have no guideline to predict anymore than that for now but he galloped back and he’s in good form. There should be loads left in this fellow’s tank so hopefully he can improve between now and then.”





Carmac causes Chaos for Gearoid at Limerick

The pursuit of Trial Stake success can prove a lifetime endeavour for many in Coursing. For far too many, yours truly included, that coveted Festival ticket can perennially prove elusive. The frustrative emotions that accompany these seasons without Trial Stake success are something that the Carmody family of Ardfert have managed to avoid however and they will now enter Powerstown Park in January with Derby contender Carmac Chaos (Feel My Pulse/Rock The Boat), the first dog ever to contest a Derby Trial Stake for the recent converts to Coursing.

Owned by Gearoid Carmody, Carmac Chaos began his career in a members Duffer Stake at Ballyheigue when a dominant winner which served as ideal preparation for his assault on Limerick City last weekend. Describing the victory, a remarkably calm Gearoid exclaims, “It’s Mighty sure, we’re happy out after it!

“We started him off in a small stake in Ballyheigue but we hadn’t a whole pile of work done with him before that. We took him there to test him really but he won it very well and we kind of suspected we might have something after that.

“It was on to Limerick then and that was my first time there so we are very grateful to the club. They ran a great meeting too, with great hares, you couldn’t praise them enough. He went well from the very first course and I didn’t look at the bookies board after the first round but he went 1/1 at that stage so we knew were in with a shout.

“They had the ray-timing as well so you knew where you stood on the clocks without having to be asking around, which was a great help. He stayed running well after that and did seem to be improving in each run. The one real scare came in the final. It was a tight buckle all the way but it was a bit of jealousy got him there, he just pulled it out at the top for about a half a length I’d say.”

Gearoid explains that along with his father Timmy, the Carmody family have been involved with track dogs for many years but attribute, or blame, the family of breeder Marie Ryall for their recent and successful venture into Coursing. Dam Rock The Boat did not manage Trial Stake success herself but being by March Is On out this season’s in-form dam Big Maggie, it is easy to see how she has now started her breeding career with a win.

“Ah we’d always be wheeling and dealing with Marie and the lads so we’re delighted to get a winner on the board for Rock The Boat. We have her sister here, Maggie Dan, and she was actually the very first Coursing greyhound we ever had. She ran up a Reserve at Ballyheigue for us and went back to win an All Age Bitch Stake the following season. We’re members in Ballyheigue now these days. Sure the field was so lucky for us that we had to go back and give a hand!

“She has her first litter coursing this year also and has started with a winner of the Reserve Derby Trial Stake at Kilflynn with Mouseinthehouse, so we’re delighted and her next litter are by Adios Alonso.

Fully understanding of how difficult Trial Stake victory, or any success in Coursing can prove, Gearoid admits that the family have had a great start in the sport but is unphased for now and will remain so while very proud to now have a first runner in a Clonmel classic.

“Yeah we’ve had a good start in fairness and Carmac Chaos is the first Coursing dog I’ve ever had in my own name. He was bought as a pup from Marie and you could only really describe him as a nice make of a dog, about 85 lbs.

“The great thing to see was that he held his clock all the way through. It would have been nice to get a clock on the final but overall, he seems a tough type and he battled hard in the final which was good to see. I’d imagine that we might think about getting him out again. He’s qualified plenty early enough, we’ll just wait and see for now but he’s flying after the weekend, not a bother on him.

“I would think there is plenty of improvement to come from him and sure we won’t know how Clonmel will suit him until he’s there but we’ll look forward to it anyway. Hopefully he can find a few more lengths but we’ll set our sights high anyway, we’re not going to just take part!”




Glory delivers Knockout blow at Charleville

Running out a dominant winner of the Oaks Trial at Charleville, Knockout Glory bridged a twenty year gap for the family of Liam McAuliffe since last entering through the Lodge Gates at Powerstown Park with a runner at the Festival and has sparked much excitement in the Athea household following her highly impressive victory.

A initial brief exchange with Rose McAuliffe, seventeen year old Liam’s mum, set the tone for further conversations with her husband Bill as both expressed pride and delight at Liam’s efforts in training the Clonmel qualifier while grateful that in an era of many distractions for young adults that he, along with many fanatical coursing friends, have grown up with a love for our wonderful sport.

Echoing Rose’s comments Bill explains, “Ah we’re delighted for Liam. He and Rose do an awful lot of walking but he’d be home from school and straight out to the dogs. You need the younger generation in the game but the game is good for them also, keeps them steady.

“There’s a bunch of them there and they are off coursing every weekend. They have phenomenal interest and when you think of all the distractions in this day n` age, you have to be grateful for Coursing. They’re mad for it! We have a couple of track dogs all the time but you’d nearly have to pay Liam to go to the track, he’ll travel the country for coursing though. But he’s a shrewd lad too and he brings his own kind of thinking to it all, it’s like technology it all moves on!”

Beginning her career at Abbeydorney, Knockout Glory was defeated in the opening round before what Bill described as another “green” run in her opening course at Charleville. Once over that first course with victory however, Knockout Glory became quite dominant in the event and posted clocks far in excess of what her rivals could achieve.

“Yeah well, we did always like her in fairness and we knew she could run but you just had a little bit of doubt then after being beaten in Abbeydorney. We were delighted to get in to Charleville so soon and we have to thank everybody there. You need everything to go your way in this game and they had great hares, they were never in trouble when turned, a great meeting. They certainly did their bit for us anyway. We couldn’t thank them enough.

“I still thought she was a bit green in the first round but she came on a mile for that run and once she started doing things right then she looked as good as we had always thought she was. She seems to have pace all over the field too. When she got going she showed nice early but also ran the hill very well. It all worked out Ok. It went according to plan for a change!”

This victory is also a significant achievement for the McAuliffe’s being bred in the kennels and Bill describes dam Knockout Kate as an ideal brood that he always intended to visit Adios Alonso.
“The dam was a very game bitch. She had setbacks as a pup but ran-up two All Age Bitch Stakes and they were to Somelittlething and Simtam! I always wanted one for Alonso and she’s from a great line too out of Portinard Nine so it’s great to get started with a winner.”

Having offered congratulations to Liam, he then confirmed Knockout Glory’s well-being adding, “Oh she’s fresh out after it, no fear of her. We won’t make a decision yet on whether we’ll get her out again before Clonmel, there’s plenty of time to think about that for the moment but it’s a possibility.”
And asked if he was in Leaving Cert year at school he replied with laughter, “Oh I am but that could be getting fairly disrupted now. Actually, it has been fairly disrupted for the whole year getting her ready!”

Returning to conversation with Bill he adds to Liam’s comments by recalling a statement that Liam made to a teacher at the start of the school year which went, “I better tell you now, I might be missing a while during the year, I’m expecting to win a Trial Stake!”

Throughout lively conversations with the McAuliffe family, it is clearly evident that this household coursing endeavour, even aside from their current victory, forms a huge part of their entire family dynamic. Delighted for his son to have experienced Trial Stake success so early, Bill is fully appreciative of how difficult it is to gain entry to the National Meeting having now bridged a twenty year gap since last claiming a ticket.

“Ah sure my own dad Larry passed away two years ago at the age of 90 and he never won one. My last one was twenty years ago with Knockout Rose and she was favourite for the Oaks before getting knocked out in the first round having done an injury in the course.

“You have to enjoy the ups in this game because you’re going to have plenty of downs. The best of it here is that we all do it together, you need a team for this craic. We’ll be hoping this one can go Ok in Clonmel but sure there is so many twists and turns before you get there, that you could hardly be even thinking that far ahead. We live in hope. It’s great to be going at all, it’s so hard to get there.”

In closing, Bill’s excitement came to the fore once again and shortly before our farewell, this was his description of their Charleville win. “Christ it’s great sure. The adrenalin is unreal from it. Tis no bother getting up in the morning now! They’ll have to close the school for Clonmel or put the Leaving Cert on hold or something!




Keeping it local! Lola is in like Flynn at Fermoy.

Scouring the country while grateful to gain entry to Trial Stakes at any meeting, coursing folk will cover countless miles during a season in search of an elusive classic ticket for the Clonmel Festival but most will admit that winning on home soil is the most satisfying victory of all, with plenty of local support to cheer on your Powerstown bound winner.

Such was the case for the Flynn Family Syndicate when their Delightful Lola (Adios Alonso/Pretty Lola) claimed her place in the 2017 Oaks at Fermoy recently with club secretary Fergus Flynn of Kilworth Co.Cork and his dad, Chairman Laurence, at the helm for an ownership which consists of an extended Flynn Family and friends, delighting the extensive support behind an impressive local winner.

There was of course double delight for Fergus Flynn who expressed his pride at the success of the meeting, as well as the victory of Delightful Lola explaining, “It was a great couple of days to be honest. We were very happy the way the meeting went off overall. It’s easy for me to praise it but it ran off very efficiently, I think all would agree there and definitely this year was the best hares we ever had.

“We weren’t the only local success either, there was plenty, with the Inter-Club and the All Age especially was a great win with Hold Firm winning for the local Shamrock Bar Syndicate. So that all added greatly to the meeting.”

On his own success Fergus continues, “sure we’re delighted with her and you’d have to say that she was impressive enough too. She improved the whole way through and the clocks were good. I thought in the first round and the third round she wasn’t at her sharpest but it was just that she wasn’t as sure-footed leaving slips is all. Once she was up and running she was flying again. They were her slowest clocks but the rest of her clocks were very good in fairness.

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“I did fancy her to tell you the truth, I said as much beforehand but only quietly! Ah she was ready to give her running. Everything went well in the lead-up, we had no issues. She was galloping very well on our own sawdust gallop here and she had two trials before the meeting too. I didn’t back her no, I was too busy with my secretary duties, I didn’t get time, ha!

“We bought her at 12 weeks from Ken Johnson who bred her and I’m delighted to get the win for him and the dam in the first litter. I’d be friendly with Ken but I always liked the dam anyway. She was a fast bitch that just didn’t get things to go her way. It was here at Fermoy actually that she really came to my attention when defeating Somelittlething in the Trial Stake before having to be withdrawn, so that will tell you and she comes from a very good line. Hopefully all the litter proves as good for him!

“After buying her then she went to Pat Treacy in Limerick for rearing and he had her six months and done a great job with her so you better get my thanks in there but the main man is Laurence. He had a right good base of walking gone into her, doing all the hard yards and this is a great reward for his efforts.

“As a family we gave many years with coursing dogs, trying to get to Clonmel and dad longer than me. We got our first one with Macroney Rebel two years ago, also winning in Fermoy. He won an All Age last year at Ballinagar too so things have finally started to happen, we’re getting over the line. Ah sure we had everyone’s story up to that, all sorts of bad luck and it felt every way you could possibly lose out, it was happening to us and in countless finals. It’s great to be going back to Clonmel so quickly again but mostly so for Laurence because walking this one isn’t easy!

“She’s a big bitch, 80lbs! But she’s aggressively active. She walks you almost, not the other way around.”

Asked about his views on how she will handle the unique demands of Powerstown Fergus is optimistically cautious. “I don’t know but I think it will suit her. She’s not short of early pace but she really seems to get going between 50 and 100 yards. In that case, you would think it’s the right field for her and she did improve on the clock in Fermoy, round on round, that’s great to see when you’re looking forward.

“She’s in perfect order after the win. She’s had a full check-up too and fully sound thankfully. We’ll give her some time to rest herself now and consider the options. There would be nothing concrete but we might look at something around late December. For now though, we’re just looking forward to be going back to Clonmel.”





Tim has it off to a Tea in Edenderry

The vast majority of owners and trainers entering through the Lodge Gates at Clonmel come the festival in January will do so with nerves jangling and many sleepless nights behind while nervous about what might possibly lie ahead for their prospective classic challengers.

For the sporting Tim McAuliffe however and his Edenderry Derby Trial Stake winner, Tea Clipper (Mafi Magic/Bend Your Knee), the national celebration of coursing offers yet another opportunity to simply relax and enjoy participation on the biggest stage after another busy and fulfilling coursing campaign.

The secretary of Castletowngeoghan Coursing Club is currently busy preparing for the upcoming renewal of a hugely respected fixture and while delighted to be returning to Powerstown Park with a Derby runner, briefly entertained the notion that the game Tea Clipper might only be interrupting those preparations before delivering what Tim describes as a coveted place amongst this season’s best.

Admitting to extensive celebrations in the aftermath of victory at Edenderry Tim began our exchange by taking me back a fortnight to a conversation with Dr Paddy O’Kelly who owns fellow qualifier Reikers Island. 

“You had a right chat with a good friend of mine recently and would you believe, he gave the day with me in Edenderry last Sunday! I picked him up that morning and we had a great laugh the whole day after. Sure I was delighted for him in Westmeath and he the same for me last Sunday.”

The good friends were of course, as Paddy has previously explained in these pages, involved with both their respective best previous Clonmel experiences when Bend Your Knee, who resides in Timmy’s kennels in Gaybrook, Mullingar, reached the quarter-final of the Oaks.

Now a proud breeder of two Trial Stake winners in the current season Timmy adds, “Ah I’m delighted really. Sure I thought I had no hope on Sunday morning, or at least that’s what I was told. Fair play to him, he kept meeting whatever was favourite, and kept putting them away. It was just a case that he held his own and stayed going!

“He started out in the Regional of course and he was beaten in the second round there when he just didn’t come away, one of those things! But that was a grand bit of education for him and it stood to him. The first round in Edenderry then he beat a dog belonged to Eugene Glennon and sure we go back for years but he says to me “well damn you anyway Timmy, I thought I’d win that course! Go away says I, between the track and the coursing, I’m taking you on for nearly forty years and I think it’s the first time I beat you! He. replied, you’ll win it now!

“He got over a tight course then in the second round and honestly come Sunday, I still thought I’d be going home early to get a bit of work done in our own coursing field. But like I said, he just stayed going and kept finding more.

“He’s a fine dog but he’s only 75lbs. Having said that, he’s lovely made but I honestly only saw him as fun dog, and I still do! Sure I have a mark on his card and all at the track so that will tell you. I sold his brother, Wood Fang, to a brother-in-law of mine only six weeks before he won in Liscannor but I had always had this fellow marked down as mine because he damaged a toe when he was younger and I said I’ll keep him for myself and try get him over it rather than pass him on with a possible problem.

“I wasn’t really expecting to be in this position with him but I’m thrilled and you couldn’t be handling a nicer dog. You put him in the van and you nearly have to beg him to get up, he’s so relaxed. I don’t know how much improvement is in him but in all I’ll say about him, I knew he wasn’t the worst dog I ever had. He had been galloping really well and when you look at it now, they’re a good litter. It took nothing out of him either! I could have trialed him on Monday if I wanted to. I said he’s a fun dog and I’ll stay going with that in mind, he’ll appear out again. We’ll get our own meeting out of the way first and I’ll find an outing for him then. He’s qualified nice and early and divil the harm it will do him!

The current season has begun extremely well for Timmy and along with two qualifiers for Bend Your Knee, the Mullingar kennels has also scored a significant breeding success with Redzer Green claiming the Horgan Cup at Abbeydorney from Tea Clipper’s grand-dam Intervention.

Timmy exclaims, “Ah I was delighted with that win for Pat Reddan and Brendan Maunsell at Abbeydorney, two better men you couldn’t be dealing with. It’s a great season so far all of us, including William Aylward and Keith Lonergan, everyone who was invloved with Bend Your Knee and any of the line.

“Sure we’re still talking about her and the Oaks quarter-final. We got such craic out of that, and that’s what I’ll be doing again. This fellow will be forty or 50/1 going to Clonmel and I can just go there and have a ball. There’s a pep in the step again now every morning, knowing that you’re going back there with a runner. I’m going to have fun and that’s it!





Kilkillogue is a knock-out at Regional

The smart victory of Kilkillogue (Newinn Wonder/Hard To Sell) in the Derby Trial Stake at Regional will see Monaghan’s Benny Treanor back in the thick of classic action at Powerstown Park in January but also provides a first winner of the season for his wonderful dam who began the kennels coursing exploits when breeding her first winners for the 2014 season.

Hard To Sell may have come up short in park meetings throughout her own racing career but a Dromina Open winner, she has thrown a Trial Stake winner in all bar one of her litters to date including Trial Stake and dual All Age Bitch Stake winner Rossmore in her first crop to Johnny Casanova and Trial Stake winner Blue Beruki off Mafi Magic. The victory of Kilkillogue at Regional last weekend comes as real tonic for breeder Benny as he explains that this will be her last litter.

“It’s absolutely brilliant, he ran great but I’m delighted to get another winner for the dam because unfortunately she fell sick after that litter and I lost her so these pups are the last of hers. She was great to me. She didn’t win a Trial Stake herself but it’s one of those things, she was much better than her form on paper would suggest. There was plenty of things that didn’t go her way and she could easily have picked up a few wins with a bit more luck.

“I had a few Coursing dogs before her but they weren’t up to the mark and it was her that really got the Coursing going for me. That’s a winner in every litter now except with the Kingsmill Dynamo’s and would you believe, I’d say they were probably the fastest of the lot but just got no luck! It was sad losing her but I have her Daughter Rossmore to continue breeding with and I expect her to break down in the next week or so, hopefully.”

On her latest breeding success at Regional with Kilkillogue Benny continues, “Yeah I thought he was impressive enough now. He galloped the hill very well there and looked very strong from halfway. He got a few turns in his first course and he knew he was after getting them but they done him no harm anyway, probably brought him on a good bit.

“He was tired enough coming down after the semi-final but a half an hour and he was jumping out of his skin again. He’d be a tough sort, like his dam and he’s one hundred percent again now. All told, it took nothing out of him. He was actually off the lead today for a short while and he’s in great form.
“He’s a nice pup is how you’d describe him but he’s 95lb so on that alone you would have to think that there’s plenty of improvement in him. Ah he was one of those who looked impressive from about nine months onward. He has a great temperament, everything comes easy to him.

 “I would think he’ll suit Clonmel, he looks like he wants a long field and that he’ll handle a hill. The plan for the moment would be to head for Old Kilcullen for the puppy stake, just to keep him ticking over. I’d prefer that over running in an All Age, so that’s the plan anyway, all going well.”

Offering no further predictions as to Kilkillogue’s Powerstown prospects, our entertaining conversation took a turn towards GAA where I discovered that the Treanor Family have a rich sporting history in Football. Dad Jack “Rock” Treanor was not only a Senior player for Monaghan but while in the army, played for Louth and Kildare and he also represented Ulster while Benny himself too wore the county colours for Monaghan when not serving suspension which he admits while laughing, “happened all too often!”

These suspensions became a touch more understandable when told of Benny’s brother Derry Treanor who was a decorated boxer who actually represented Scotland but was arguably best known as the only fighter to defeat the great Terry Spinks over eight rounds. For younger readers, the latter was a dominant force in the sport throughout the 1950’s and 60’s, winning Olympic Gold in Melbourne 1956!

All praise for the Regional meeting Benny thanks them greatly when signing off, “It was a great meeting, super hares. Ah but sure they’re a great club. They put their heart and soul into it and I want to thank them all sincerely. I hope to be back down that way again very soon. I have three more bitches for the season and I have a coupled entered in Charleville so hopefully I’ll get to meet with many of them again.”





Reikers gets Paddy out of jail at Westmeath

Creating a big impression when claiming his Clonmel Festival ticket in Westmeath United’s Derby Trial Stake of last week, Reikers Island (Adios Alonso/Blades Of Glory) justified the assertions that he was a classic contender before even going to slips and now takes his place at the top of the Boylesports Derby Market for delighted owner Paddy Kelly of Ballymacargy in Westmeath.

Speaking in the wake of victory Paddy explains, “He ran very well, we’re very pleased with him. It’s not often everything goes to plan like that. It was always the intention to run him up here if we could at all. I’m a member of Castletown Geoghan myself but the two clubs are very close in reality and this particular Trial Stake is close to my heart being the Ber Murtagh Memorial Cup. I was involved with dogs with Ber and Dan McHugh for many years and they’ve both passed on now so it was very special to win this stake!”

Putting it to Paddy that the word was out prior to the event that Reikers Island may be very talented he replies, “I think the breeding did most of the talking for him in fairness and sure why wouldn’t it really?! But we did know early on that he had pace and Gerry was very happy with him since he first went there in July. Still it’s the same story every year, you don’t know until they’re in the field!”

Referring to Gerry Holian, he explains that he has been involved with the Athenry trainer for close to twenty years and in that time the pair have enjoyed much success. This is Paddy’s ninth Trial Stake winner, including syndicate’s and partnerships and Bonnie Linda provided his deepest run at the festival when reaching the semi-final of the Oaks in 1999. One of two further quarter-finalists for Paddy when reaching that stage in the 2013 Oaks, Bend Your Knee provides Paddy with his remaining runners for the season with a dog and bitch from her litter to Mafi Magic, which has already produced a winner with Wood Fang in the Tradaree Derby Trial Stake.

A General Practitioner, Dr. Paddy hopes that this pair may begin their campaigns at Miltown Malbay as the Clare native hails from neighbouring Mullagh and Reikers Island too has spent his formative months in the west when reared by George Gallery. “I bought him at twelve weeks and gave him straight to George for rearing and the plan was always then to go to Gerry, so in fairness he has had the best of everything from day one!”

Bred in the purple out of prolific dam Blades Of Glory who continues to produce classic contenders in every litter, Paddy was full of praise for the breeding lines of Denis Guiney exclaiming, “sure it’s not a line anymore, it’s a dynasty! Look, it’s fair to say that buying from there, you’re giving yourself every chance but this fellow looked the part from the very first time I saw him, but then everything did in Rathkeale!

“Naturally when you’re going buying from a line like that, the pups are going to be priced at the top end of the scale and justifiably so but somebody said to me at the time, “anyone paying that kind of money for a greyhound, should be in jail!”. So that’s how he came to be called Reikers Island, after the New York prison.”

Describing his Derby contender Paddy adds, “He has good early, I wouldn’t say exceptional but when he hit the rising ground he was gone! It’s not a big hill in Westmeath but he just took off from halfway. We were initially worried about the ground being so early in the year but the club had it in great order, it was a credit to them. They ran a great meeting. Strong hares, good slipping, you couldn’t have a single criticism.

“He has come out of it very well, not a bother on him but he’s a laid back type anyway, a very calm individual. I’d say he’s about the 85lb mark but he’s all there, very well proportioned, a real athlete. I reckon he will come out again, all going well. Kilimer Kilrush might be one option. Maybe let him tackle a bigger hill for the experience and see how he handles that but Gerry will make all the decisions, I’ll just follow!

“At the moment I think he’ll handle Clonmel no bother, it should actually suit him very well but there’s an awful long way to go between now and then. If he stays fit and healthy, gets a nice draw, you never know and at this stage I wouldn’t fear anyone. But there’s an awful lot of good dogs to appear out yet!

“Right now we’re happy out! It’s great to be going back to Clonmel at all and mighty to be going with a good one!”




Honey sweet weekend for Kilcoyne in Clare

I had never experienced the pleasure of conversing in any meaningful way with Coursing sage Luke Kilcoyne until calling his phone in the wake of Trial Stake success last week and so I didn’t know what I was missing out on. I’m certain that it will come as no surprise to those who know Luke that I was left with a grin on my face for some time after our immensely entertaining exchange about the victory of his Ougham Honey in the Oaks Trial Stake at Ennis Clarecastle, and definitely not as much a surprise as her win was for Luke as he exclaimed while laughing, “sure I told anyone that asked me, she wouldn’t win!”

The weekend in Clare was of course hugely successful for the Kilcoyne coursing clan from Tubbercurry for while Ougham Honey was claiming her ticket for Clonmel, her dam was attempting a unique double as Ougham Ellen prepared to go to slips in the very next course for the final of the All Age Bitch Stake.

Speaking about the exciting weekend events Luke maintained a lighthearted tone throughout admitting, “Yeah we had a good weekend alright! Ah the All Age bitch just went to drive out of slips too soon and kind of hung herself a bit. She got behind early and that was that, especially against the Skellig bitch, she’s very fast and we needed to be out in front.

“Ah but once she ran well, I was happy. It turned out a very hot stake and on another day she could have picked up another Cup for herself. That will be her last outing it looks like. She’s due to come back in season very soon so we could have January pups. If she had her own way, she’d stay coursing though. She’s stone mad after it, so genuine. It takes a sturdy man to lead her into slips!”

The Trial Stake win at Ennis Clarecastle came through Ellen’s first litter and Ougham Honey was not required to run a final course. Luke was delighted to pick up the classic ticket but in contradiction to most who will feature in these columns throughout the season, sounded a touch underwhelmed.

“Ah sure she’s not too bad. I thought she was running very green in fairness, kind of looking around at it. But that was her first ever look at a hare and sure she won. You need plenty of luck in this game and she took her chance.

“I’d like to think she would run the top of the field and she’ll improve a good bit before Clonmel, she’s only a late May pup and it did look a good Trial Stake alright. She’s in great form after it too, a hardy yoke that one. She won’t win the Oaks but she’ll make them earn it to knock her out!”, again exclaimed with much laughter.

“Ah sure you have to take your chance but I never like to think too much of them. It can be very disappointing when you aim too high. You never know when your luck is in. You saw the other day, the bitch that won the other semi-final got a run around the field, the only wayward hare of the whole meeting. I was below waiting with a runner in the next two courses. So there you go, I only missed that by one!

“She’ll rest now for 8-10 weeks and get her back galloping after that but I’d rather not enter her again before Clonmel. I have her sister here to come out in Loughrea so that will be my next day coursing. She’s a bigger bitch and I’d say she may be a better bitch too. She won’t win in Loughrea but there’ll be plenty of improvement in her after that. The other bitch was more forward going to Ennis. They’re the only two I have for the year.

“It’s grand to win when you have bred them yourself sure and even losing the Cup final, you won’t get days like that to happen too often!”

Luke was all praise for the Ennis Clarecastle club, echoing the sentiments of all those present who enjoyed an exceptionally high standard renewal in a County where he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past. Claiming two Trial Stakes at Tradaree over the years, his Tobertelly Queen also enjoyed Cup success there before claiming Waterloo Cup victory in 1984.

Luke may not be putting Ougham Honey forward as an Oaks winner this year but with his rich history in a lifetime of Coursing it may not be the greatest shock if she did find the necessary improvement between now and the festival. The Kilcoyne family will this year celebrate the fifty year anniversary of Mullaghroe Hiker’s Derby win in 1967 while twenty years have now passed since Ougham Champ ran-up the Champion Stakes in 1996.

On another successful day in Ennis last week, the Kilcoyne family could be seen united in victory with Luke proud to have brother Micky, son Michael and grandchildren present. However, by time of press the family will have spent last Sunday as a much more divided unit as Breaffy clash with Crossmalina in the Mayo County Football quarter-final. Luke will cheer on his grandson and Mayo inter-county player Conor Loftus who will line-out for the latter while Micky’s grandsons Peter & Colm Dravins oppose with Breaffy. Coursing was suspended for the weekend!





Barney did It after long spin to Glin

It may have been just the second weekend of the new Coursing season but making his way on to many short-lists for the Powerstown festival following an impressive march through the 64-runner Derby Trial Stake at Glin last week was Do It Barney (Adios Alonso/Kincora Chubbys) who rewards owner/trainer Ray White of Lifford with a first Clonmel runner in his own right while justifying the long trek south to earn a coveted place in the classic draw.

Initially asked if he high hopes ahead of his Journey from Lifford to Glin Ray replies, “Oh aye, he was going well in the gallops. I liked him, I always liked him actually. Thankfully he didn’t prove me wrong!

“I didn’t get the chance to get a trial into him though so you would always be a bit in the dark heading to the first course but he came from behind in that and got three turns, he was a different dog after that.

“He came from behind in a few of his courses but he was staying on up the hill and doing most of his running from halfway. That’s where he was really showing his pace. The Killacolla dog in the semi-final looked the danger dog to me and I says if we get over this one he’ll win it because that’s the way he was running, he gave the impression he would stay on for a final. But in fairness he won that well, driving on from halfway again.

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“It was a good final too, he had to come from behind again but he did it well and the runner-up looks a good dog. Ah, I’m just delighted. He looks a very good dog and it’s not too often you get one like him. He’s 96lb, a very lengthy dog but he holds every bit of it and never lost a single ounce over the three days. He’s bouncing out of his skin after it. Honestly, he could have gone up again. He came down after the final with his tail in the air and bouncing away as fresh as you like!”

The victory is also a great breeding success for Ray as owner of dam Kincora Chubbys who is a daughter of Oaks winner Chubbys Accord. Bred in the purple, she threw an Oaks Trial Stake winner in her only previous litter to Kyle King but Ray explains his delight for breeder Martin Ryan as she is now under his care.

“Yeah I still own her but I gave her to Martin for breeding and I’ll have a dog and bitch from each litter, an extended lease really. So I have a bitch still to come out yet, Do It Chubbys, and I like her too! But I was delighted for Martin the other day and he was there with me, catching the the dog. It was great win for both of us and for my family at home.

“My own dad Raymond lived for it sure. He had plenty of Trial Stake winners in his time but he took ill about two years ago and sure it’s killing him not to be doing dogs. But I was still dragging him out to get a look at this fellow galloping and I praying that he would think the same as me and say he was nice dog, but he liked him too thank god!

“Sure I had to ring him after every round and tell what was happening, he’s obviously delighted too and sure hopefully it will give him an auld lift. I wanted to give him the crystal trophy for himself when I got home but he wouldn’t have it. “That’s a one off one, you hold on to that!”, he says.

“There’s the three of us with the dogs at home really and I couldn’t do it at all without my own son Andrew who helps me with everything. You need the help at this game and he’d love to have been in Glin at the weekend but he was at home looking after the rest of the dogs and sure all I can say on that is thanks!”

We all know of the commitment levels required to garner even a semblance of success in this sport and Coursing folk will cross many county lines throughout the season in search of success but for those “up north” the journey’s can be long and arduous.

Ray explains, “It took me six hours each way but it was a much easier drive on Sunday evening! I travelled on my own but followed Micky Taggart from Dublin because he knew where the field was. I was booked into the B&B, right beside the Coursing field for Friday and Saturday while the dog slept in the van. I tried him in a bigger van but he wouldn’t settle, he would only relax in the wee van I’m sitting in this minute. Sure it has to be done!”

Asked about the likelihood of a public appearance before Clonmel Ray replied, “Well he’s obviously going away for a while now. I’d maybe think about a trial here or there, no rushing at all. I could have taken that decision away from myself already if I wanted to though. I’ve had plenty of calls looking to buy the dog.

“Now my dad was always a seller when he won Trial Stakes and I’d be a seller myself usually, I’d sell you my shirt! But he looks a real Clonmel type the way he ran Glin. He was powering on from halfway and when you consider his damline there’s a fair chance, all in all, that he is a Clonmel dog. It’s not very often you get one like him and I’ll not be selling him!”





Ramble delivers early season surprise in Tradaree OTS

So the scramble for places in the classic events at the National Coursing Festival has begun in earnest and how reassuring and confidence building it must be to secure one of these coveted places on the opening weekend of the season. And so, for the three members of the Tomaisin’s Syndicate in Lissleton Co.Kerry, the pressure of intense competition was relieved to a great extent when their Lone Ramble (Mafi Magic/Ramble Pumpkin) claimed her Oaks ticket in the Tradaree Trial Stake, even if somewhat of a surprise to trainer William Keane.

Speaking in the wake of victory he explains, “We’re delighted to tell you the truth because she actually surprised me, she ran awful well. If I’m honest, I didn’t think she was good enough beforehand, she’s better than I thought she was!”

Slightly surprised he may have been but as William admits, Lone Ramble is exceptionally well bred and although her dam Ramble Pumpkin didn’t win a Trial Stake herself, she always had the potential to be a successful brood bitch being a member of a wonderful litter which included Derby winner Thomas The Tank and Irish Cup winner Newinn Wonder.

Purchasing Lone Ramble from breeder Jody Thompson, it is with a touch of irony then that she should claim her Oaks ticket with final success over Jody’s own Pumpkin Ashmore.

Willliam reflects, “Yeah we bought her off Jody at twelve weeks but sure he was very happy for us on Sunday evening in fairness and we can only wish him luck with his bitch for the rest of the year.

“It was a good final and our bitch won it well, about three lengths in it but she was getting better with every course. She was fit and ready going there but I was happy the way she took her courses. We were told that we were behind on the clock going into the final but there was some bumping in the semi so I wasn’t overly worried when I heard that because she was in great order.

“She a very strong bitch, well made! I haven’t had a days worry with her from the day we bought her. No lameness, no sore, nothing and she’s the same today. She could course again this week but I’m nearly sure that she won’t appear out again until Clonmel.”

In ownership with good friends Tom Hegarty of Tomaisin’s Pub in Lissleton and Noel Madden, William admits to more than a little celebration following the win. “Ah sure the boys are over the moon. We did a right bit of a session in the pub alright, but isn’t that all part of it sure?!

“We spent the small few bob we got from backing her. The boys backed her on Sunday morning but I had already backed with Dinny Gould. It was Dinny that kind of got her into the Trial Stake, being his home club. So not even fancying her really I says to myself, I’ll give him back a few quid now to say thanks!”

Attempting to count back, William believes this to be his fourteenth Trial Stake success but he still awaits that big victory at Clonmel with his best National Meeting performances being a run to the semi-final of the Kitty Butler before withdrawal and a third round appearance for Lone Gale in the mid 90’s.

The Lone prefix will also be well known to followers of track racing with his Lone Scolari starting favourite for the prestigious McCalmont Cup final at Kilkenny this year before his talented youngster Lone Bullet finished second in last month’s Texacloth Puppy Derby at Newbridge when denied by an agonising shorthead verdict in the final.

Both are trained by Michael O’Donovan with William explaining, “If I think the trackers are that good, I give them to Michael but I like to train the Coursing dogs myself. Ah there’s an awful lot of travelling, all the time with the trackers. I don’t mind doing the travelling with the Coursing dogs though! I’d keep only an odd tracker at home for racing locally is all.”

Thanking the Tradaree club and praising all involved with hosting the Liscannor meeting for presenting a successful renewal with great hares, William made no predictions on Lone Ramble’s Oaks aspirations and simply signed off saying, “I’m just happy enough to be going back through those Lodge Gates again with a runner!”




Things are fine at Liscannor for Norris

A smart debut appearance for Hows Things (Killimor Matey/Ballinveala Wren) when claiming victory in the Derby Trial Stake at Liscannor sees Derby winning trainer Pat Norris again challenging for the classic at Powerstown Park with a family owned runner who extends a wonderful association with his breeder having also trained his dam to Trial Stake victory.

Getting a season of the mark with a winner on the opening weekend is always a boost with a long winter of action ahead in a busy kennels and Pat expressed his delight while explaining his satisfaction on how Hows Things improved throughout his first career outing.

“Ah it’s great to pick one up so early, every one counts! I always enjoyed going to Liscannor and I’d had some good successes there in the past but I hadn’t been there for a few seasons before last weekend. I just thought this fellow would suit the field so I have to thank everyone there for giving us our chance as well as a great couple of days Coursing.

“I thought he started off a bit green enough in his first course but he got a few turns in that which helped him greatly, just kind of switched him on. It was ideal for him as he hadn’t gotten a trial and he hunted well which was great to see.

“He improved in every run after that it seemed. He was coming away well and was lining up his hare almost from the drop, he was on the ball! He’s not an over big dog, a blocky type really and gallops low to the ground so he handled the field very well.

Asked if he had fancied him ahead of the outing Pat replies, “Ah sure he was galloping well all the time but sure honestly, you never know until the day. I was happy with him going there but he’s not one that would take your eye out on looks like some would but he does things right and that’s the important thing.

“He’s in great form after it all. Honestly, there wasn’t a puff out of him. He could have gone up a few more times he was that fresh. I’ll wait and see what I’ll do with him in a few weeks time. There are some winners that you would put away until Clonmel but I’d imagine this fellow would probably appear out again somewhere down the line. We’ll wait and see.”

The Living Dream Syndicate is a family affair for the Norris’s of Mitchelstown and Pat adds, “Yeah the syndicate is actually in existence for a while but it’s just all of us here at home. My wife Helena and three sons Patrick, David and my baby Jack, although he’s not much of a baby anymore at twenty years old! ‘It was he actually named the dog more or less. Every time you meet him it’s the same greeting every time, how’s things?

“Ah but all the boys are great. You need a lot of help at this game and they give it! They’re sporting people and sure they’re stone mad for the Coursing. If I ever had any thoughts of giving up, I wouldn’t be let, they’d keep me going.”

A regular with runners at Powerstown Park either with his own family dogs or in his training capacity, Pat’s biggest day at the Festival came in 1991 when Sirron won the Derby in what was his very first Coursing runner and remarkably modest about his achievements he recalls the early 90’s seasons that saw him in the thick of classic contention.

“Yeah, Sirron was the first Coursing dog I ever had in the kennel but sure look it was great to win the Derby, there’s no beating that really but it would make want to do it again. We stayed trying after that and we’d be buying pups or scouring the country for one that might be good enough. But I was looking at pups in John Lenihan’s one day and long story short, I wasn’t buying anyway until the young fellow pulled out this smasher of a bitch and I asked, is she Trial Stake material John? He said no, but she’s not for sale either! Anyway, I came away with her eventually and she turned out to be Forever A Lady who ran–up the Oaks in `92.

“But I was always convinced she would have won the Oaks only for getting a heap of turns in a trial at Clonmel before the meeting, a right grueller! Ah sure there was people telling me that I was mad to even run her in the Oaks but she went close for us and it was a great Coursing family up your way that beat her, Patsy Kelly with Lady Nellie.

“We had a right few battles with the Kelly’s at that time but we kind of got our own back two years later when Fovever A Lady’s son, Seven Of Us, won the 1995 Derby when beating the Kelly’s Rebel Blue in the final! They were great times.”

Special times indeed for Pat and it was a pleasure to listen to him recall that great period but his current Derby qualifier is too a special winner for different reasons as he explains that Hows Things was in fact a present from breeder and good friend Vincent Purtill.

“Yeah I have trained dogs for Vincent for many years now but I trained this fellow’s dam Ballinveala Wren. She won a Trial Stake at Fermoy but she was very special to Vincent as she was belonged to his wife Eileen. I remember him telling me that Eileen picked her out of the litter and being ill, prophetically exclaimed that she would not be around to see her run. She did sadly pass away soon after and sure as you can imagine, that bitch is very close to Vincent’s heart.

“It was an honour to train her after that and another now to be able to give her a first Trial Stake winner in her first litter with Hows Things.”

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