Tucker Foley/Lamabad Syndicate

Lamabad Syndicate are not Tuckered out just yet
As this column has featured in the past, syndication can prove an ideal avenue for those taking their first steps into greyhound ownership and this week we meet the Lamabad Syndicate from Dublin whose participation was sparked by social nights out at the dogs and is now maintained by the wonderful Tucker Foley who continues his marvellous winning ways despite having reached veteran status.

Now with their second racing representative, Dave Keane is at the helm for four members and describes the formation of the syndicate for their first runner, Prince Of Honey. “God I didn’t think it was so long ago but Prince Of Honey was our first dog in 2002! We are all from around the Dublin area and know each other from all the way back in college and even school. We were always fans of greyhound racing and would often go to Shelbourne Park on night’s out, saying to ourselves that we’ll have to get involve in a dog some day.

“So Liam Mulholland was in the syndicate to start with and he was the only one of us who had dogs before. He knew Delores Ruth so approached her to get a dog for us and that was Prince Of Honey. He was a very decent dog, competing around A1 level and won four races but he unfortunately got injured in a gallop and his career ended too early when he was going so well.

“We left it for a few years then, and it honestly didn’t feel like it was so long, before we decided to go again. There was a bit of disappointed after losing Prince Of Honey but we were always going to have another dog and this time we approached Paul Hennessy and explained that we were a syndicate looking for a dog to run in Dublin, even though we’d travel anywhere really. We put no pressure on him to find us a dog in a hurry or anything, just a matter of when he came across something suitable.

“He then found Tucker Foley and he had a few races before Paul spotted him in Kilkenny. I must say, the Hennessy’s are brilliant to deal with. They could have dogs running in the big events anywhere around the country with Tucker in his A1 race at Shelbourne but you will still get an answer from Paul every time you text to ask anything. They have a lot of high profile dogs and owners in the kennels but they would make you feel as important as any of them.”

 An August 2013 whelp, Tucker Foley is now officially a veteran in racing terms but retains an admirable level of form in a career that has deliver 19 race wins for his adoring syndicate. An accomplished breaker from traps, he possesses top class early pace and is one of those thoroughly genuine dogs with whom you almost invariably know what he will bring to a race every night.

He has just a single AA0 race win to his name but a glance through his profile will reveal that he has raced and competed exceptionally well with some of Ireland’s most talented trackers and he recently gained some much deserved reward when claiming final victory in the Greyhound & Petworld A1 Stake at Cork.

In great form at present, Tucker Foley may have suffered defeat at Shelbourne Park on Saturday last but again displaying his slick early pace, he posted one of his best times for 525 yards when second and Dave recounts his career with no thoughts of retirement just yet.

“Ah we’ve had great fun and great times with both dogs but especially with Tucker Foley and even form the very start he won his first race for us at Shelbourne which we didn’t really expect, we were delighted. But in his very next race then he got a very heavy bump and it seemed to knock his confidence for a while. He struggled in a few races after it but Paul just took his time with him and we took the wide seed off him at that time too.

“When he was back to form then we tried sprinting him and he didn’t win a sprint at that time but he clocked 18.67 one night in an S1 and was beaten a length by Ballymac Bigmike! Sure even Paul was saying afterwards, what were the chances of running into a dog like him on that particular night.

“But he’s back at 525 yards now and his form is as good as ever. Winning the stake in Cork was brilliant and it was great to get a victory like that for Tucker’s own sake. That was a great sponsorship too when you see €5000 for the winner and it filled the syndicate account up nicely!

“He has won good prizemoney in total, over €11,000 now and he has funded a trip to Cheltenham for us. We’re going for the big November meeting and the whole weekend will be paid for from the syndicate account. So he has given us a free holiday, and there will still be a few quid left in the kitty!

“No, we haven’t spoke about retiring him yet and I suppose it will just be a case of wait and see how his form holds up. He has had a few injury layoffs in his career but clearly there is nothing ailing him right now. I don’t know how long more he’ll go for but he’s still in great form for now. The thing with Tucker is his breaking. He nearly always breaks well and on any given night he could clear any dog to the bend. While he’s still doing that, he can still win races.”

Already named when purchased by the Lamabad Syndicate, Dave reveals that rather than being a famous individual or figure of folklore, his research has found Tucker Foley to be an American cartoon character while the naming of the syndicate is a simple play on the members initials and nothing relating to the capital city of Pakistan!

Those members included Liam Mulholland at the outset but remaining four, Liam has been replaced by Anthony Greene who joins Dave Keane, Michael Gillen and Bren O’Reilly, and the syndicate looks set to remain intact even beyond Tucker Foley’s retirement.
“Yes we’ll go again. We’ll enjoy the rest of Tucker’s career and let the dust settle when he retires but we dipped the toe with Delores and Prince Of Honey, had a great time even though it ended too soon but now with Paul we’ve had a wonderful experience again. All the lads I’m sure will go again next time and there could even be a second syndicate forming with friends that have seen the success we’ve had with Tucker.”

A truly wonderful servant to all connections, any kennels would be proud to have Tucker Foley amongst their racing contingent. He is a credit to all involved while maintaining his high level of form beyond four years of age and also maintaining a presence in greyhound racing for his proud syndicate.

We wish Tucker Foley all the best of luck for the remainder of his career and extend the same good wishes for his syndicate who formed from enjoying nights out at the dogs. They are a shining example to point towards when reminding all in the sport that we must continue to welcome and encourage new race goers at every turn, extending our welcoming hand because they could well be the next Lamabad Syndicate with a wonderful greyhound like Tucker Foley.

We Couldn’t Afford A Horse Syndicate

Budgie hopes to take flight in Derby second round

Highlighting syndicate owned runners across varying grades within the greyhound racing spectrum, the primary wish of the extended connections is to enjoy fun nights out in support of their racing representative and unconditional support is guaranteed at whatever level might be achieved on the track. However, all still retain the wish that just maybe they could have one good enough to contest at the very highest level and spark dreams of a possible Derby victory.

Our opening round in the 2017 Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby gratefully housed many such syndicates and among them was the We Couldn’t Afford A Horse Syndicate with their recent graduate to top class Open racing, Budgie Marbh (Royal Impact/Ardera Aisling). At the helm for a nine strong syndicate membership, former Paddy Power CEO Stewart Kenny accepted a brief interruption while on holiday to express his delight at negotiating their way to the second round of the Derby.

Filling fifth place behind Sonic in the fastest first round heat, Budgie Marbh benefited from the generous qualifying conditions to progress having found significant first bend bumping behind the flying 29.12 winner. Capable of a much faster start however, Stewart remains hopeful that the Derby outsider can improve for his first classic outing.

“Yes we were very happy to see him scrape through and if all he did was scrape through again this week we’d be happy too! The Derby was a big step up for him but he has been steadily improving throughout his career and his latest two wins at Shelbourne before the Derby were very impressive.”
That brace of victories brought A2 success in 28.52 before Budgie Marbh then confirmed his ability to contest at the highest level when recording a brilliant 28.30 victory in AA0 company over 525 yards. Fast breaking with early pace was the feature of these wins and Stewart will be hoping for a return to that form ahead of Thursday’s Heat 6 where he will face some illustrious opponents from a tricky Trap 5 draw.

“The draw is not ideal with six inside seeds and he will have to break better than he did last week. He’ll need to get across towards the inside without a bump if he is to use his early pace but I’m sure he can be faster away this time. It’s brilliant to have a runner in the Derby and miracles do happen you know!”

Chiefly responsible for the formation of the We Couldn’t Afford A Horse Syndicate, Stewart has been involved with trainer Paul Hennessy and his family kennels for many years with Susan Hennessy explaining that “they are unbelievable syndicate members. Stewart is the man behind it, he has been with us for years and had many good dogs. We’ve had great fun with him through the years!”

Rutland Budgie
This association with the Hennessy’s began back in the early 2000’s with a first runner for Stewart being the brilliant Rutland Bugdgie who delivered his biggest success to date when landing the 2001 Puppy Derby.

Stewart continues, “yes Rutland Budgie was where it all started and the Puppy Derby has been the biggest achievement. He also broke the track record at Cork but was injured during the English Derby in 2002 and was retired. We’ve had some great dogs in the years since and we very nearly did reach the Irish Derby final in 2003 when Bookie Burglar only missed out by a neck on qualifying from his semi-final after being caught right on the line.”

That 2003 edition of the Derby was of course sponsored by Paddy Power and the We Can’t Afford A Horse Syndicate is comprised of key figures within that hugely successful betting firm both past and present. A founder member of the company himself, Stewart attributes the entire concept to syndicate member John Corcoran while the syndicate itself was named by company front-man Paddy Power himself. Now retired from the Paddy Power group, Stewart explains that there are six syndicate members from within the company family and all hail from Dublin, excepting two members from London.

Many of the runners under Stewarts ownership have featured Budgie in their racing title and while inquiring about the syndicate’s history, he revealed that the naming of this current Derby contender carries quite a poignant tone.

“This syndicate was formed about a year and a half ago when Paul found the dog for us but it has really existed much longer with different people involved over the years. There has been a cross over of members from one dog to another from the very first venture with Rutland Budgie.
“We had a very good friend who was nicknamed Budgie, Sean Burgess, and many of the dogs were called after him. When he had a bit heart trouble and went for surgery, we named Budgie Bypass. Sean unfortunately succumbed to illness in the end and hence, Budgie Marbh.”

With that information, it is easy to see why Budgie Marbh is such a special runner for his loyal group of owners. Seeing his name amongst the list of second round contenders for the 2017 Derby will inspire memories of a great friend lost but also spark wonderful visions of time spent together in support of their many exciting racing ventures through the years.

Thanking Stewart for the constant presence of his syndicate under many different guises since beginning with Rutland Budgie almost seventeen years ago, we wish them and Budgie Marbh the very best of luck in the second round of the Derby. We look forward to his future exploits and that of his many owners as they continue another wonderful story of syndicate racing success.

Wayne a Quiet Open star for Kingdom friends

Classic competition action in some of Ireland’s most prestigious events will proceed at an unrelenting pace over the coming months and one syndicate who look set for an exciting participation in that top flight is the proud group of friends who came together to purchase Killeacle Wayne (Burnpark Champ/Bearhaven Ekki) in the hope that he can deliver a final night to remember on the biggest stage which continued with his tilt at the 2017 Irish Independent Laurels at Curraheen Park.

The Very Quiet Syndicate comprises of eight members with Killeacle Wayne their first venture together and speaking with Patrick Reidy ahead of the Laurels second round heats, he expressed his delight at negotiating a tricky opening night heat when third to Away Jet in 28.40.

A promising prospect since the very outset of his career, Killeacle Wayne reached A1 grade in victory at the second attempt and would go on to reach the final of the Munster Juvenile Cup at Clonmel. The October 2014 whelp would later sign off on his puppy campaign when chalking his first AA0 mark in A2 stake victory at Tralee, posting a slick 28.48 and it was this level of form in the Kingdom which prompted the attentions of the local syndicate.

Purchased in early 2017, Patrick explains, “There’s eight of us in the syndicate and the decision to buy Killeacle Wayne actually happened over a game of cards one night. I’d be friendly with Liam and Shane Dowling and would often meet up with them in Ballmacelligot from time to time. They’d be well up on all the dogs at Tralee of course and knew that there could be a chance to buy this fellow, so it took off from there really.”

Believing syndicate ownership to be ideal for newcomers to greyhound racing Patrick continues, “of the eight of us, most have experience in greyhounds for many years so a syndicate coming together like this was always likely but there are two friends of mine for whom this is their first dog. The syndicate is a great way to entice new people. For handy money you can get an interest in a good class of dog like Wayne and with seven or eight members like we have, you can keep it affordable. If you’re lucky then you can keep it moving forward, it’s a great way to sell the sport.” 

Under his new ownership with the Very Quiet Syndicate, Killeacle Wayne continued his impressive career path which brought victory in the O’Neill’s Dog Food Open 525 Yard Stake, again at Tralee, before an unlucky elimination at semi-final stage of the Riverside Oscar Open 525 at Cork. Next stop for the impressive Liam Dowling trained runner was Towcester for a tilt at the English Greyhound Derby but Patrick admits that he simply didn’t take to the track.

“Well it was planned from the outset to head for Towcester but you could say that it was as part of the Dowling team more so than a specific target for himself. I think Towcester was the same for everyone, almost a trial and error, you had to take your chance and see if it would suit. I tell you though, he didn’t really handle it well, he went out in the first round. He was seeded wide and he went wide, it just didn’t work out.”

Returning from the UK, Killeacle Wayne made his next appearance in the Race Of Champions at Tralee where a third place finish in the semi-final saw him just miss out on that final when chasing home Native Chimes in what was then a record run for the 550 yards. On to the Laurels at Cork and the following was Patrick’s assessment of Wayne’s opening round effort when speaking before the second round heats.

“It was great to get through the first round in what turned out to be a hot heat but he has another tough one again on Saturday. He’s well drawn though in four. We like the middle for him more than the wide outside so hopefully he can come away well and if he does, he should qualify.”

As it turned out, Patrick was right to be hopeful ahead of that second round heat in which Killeacle Wayne ran with great credit but having negotiated the opening bends without significant interference, his powerful back-straight charge was only rewarded with a hefty bump at the third turn when appearing certain to qualify at the very minimum. Relegated to his fifth place finish behind Barefoot Painter in 28.20, his was an extremely unlucky elimination.

“Honestly, we are disappointed. But more for the dog than ourselves. He was running a great race until he got baulked. He was flying down the back and one of the lads beside me says “he’ll win this yet!”, that’s how well he ran. It was a hot heat in 28.20 but he was definitely doing somewhere between 28.30 to 28.40 if he had been clear at the bottom bends.

“Ah, it’s not the end of the world either but he was in such good form that you could get through there, maybe qualify again the next night and then you’re in the thick of all the excitement with dreams of winning a big one. But that’s dog racing for you!

“We’re still very happy with him. He was bought to contest the big competitions and he’s still a very good greyhound at that level so going forward you never know, he might get his luck in the next one. All the lads involved are sporting people and understand the ups and downs of racing and he is giving us a great run.

“That’s the beauty of the syndicates. You can bring friends and have a craic. Winning a few quid would be alright too and in fairness we got that when he won the O’Neill’s Stake in Tralee. We even backed him that night so we already have a few quid back in that regard.

“I’m not fully sure on the plan yet but I only live a few miles from the Dowling’s so we’ll talk during the week. I’d imagine Shelbourne for the Derby would be part of it. Liam and Shane are two very honest and straight men to be working with, you couldn’t be with better so we’ll go with what they say.”

Patrick was very pragmatic in the wake of elimination from the Laurels which is quite fitting as part of a “very quiet” syndicate but maybe also because he has been in the thick of big competition in the past and many readers will recall the career of Balie Mhic who he owned with good friend John Breen which included heat victories in both the Laurels and English Derby.

A fellow member of the syndicate also brings connection with an Irish racing superstar as Des Grace was a former owner of the brilliant early pacer Quietly and Patrick attributes the naming of the syndicate to him.

“Well I could tell you that the name came about because we are all kind of laid back people. Now we’d be plenty capable of going mad if we won a big one but really it was more Des and Quietly that the syndicate name came through.”

There can be no doubt that Killeacle Wayne was extremely unlucky on Saturday last but he remains a big player on the Open scene going forward as he has repeatedly looked well-at-home while doing battle with some of Ireland’s top trackers. He is another shining example of how greyhound racing can bring sports-minded friends together in search of racing success but more importantly, to share and enjoy the entire racing experience at venues across Ireland, and in Wayne’s case, beyond!

We wish all members and connections the very best of luck going forward and will follow their future endeavours closely with Killeacle Wayne which will hopefully bring that big final night to remember.

Frankel the Premier performer in National Sales

A leading wish for the second annual National Greyhound Sales at Curraheen Park back in March was to offer an outlet for prospective new syndicates to form from trials and the resulting auctions. How appropriate then that the subsequent Lets Get Racing Unraced 525 Yard Stake should be claimed by the already existing Not For Profit Syndicate, who have many ties to the inaugural National Sales at Shelbourne Park in 2016, when their Premier Frankel (Tullymurry Act/Groupie Doll) emerged victorious in a thrilling final display.

At the helm for a six strong membership, Cookstown native Sean McKee reveals that they have no concrete plans for their impressive August 2015 whelp after claiming final victory in the late April decider but expresses his delight at what was a thoroughly game display throughout the 24-runner event, coming from behind to win the final by a half length in 29.12(+10).

“Yes we were delighted with him, especially in the final. I expected him to be chasing the favourite Jet Stream to the bend at maybe a length or so behind and that would give him a chance but when he broke so poorly and was only fourth going to the turn I thought he couldn’t win from there.

“I suppose we got a little bit of help when the leaders had a small bump in front of him going into the third bend but our fellow has great back-straight pace and he showed every bit of it in the final. Thankfully he was able to get his head in front going to the line.”

On the auction bench at the National Sales in mid-March following his 28.92 trial, Sean explains that he was for sale at the right price but that target was not reached. “You never know what the sale is going to be like but Groupie Doll’s first litter were very good and with Frankel going under the 29.00 in his trial we had a figure approaching €8000 in mind but the final bid on the day was €3400 and he wouldn’t be leaving us for that price. I suppose it’s vindicated now when he went on to win the stake for €4000!”

The Not For Profit Syndicate now find themselves in an enviable position for having chosen not to sell, Premier Frankel remains in their ownership and has replenished the syndicate kitty significantly but as the name suggests, it’s not all about the money for these experienced greyhound participants. This being their second syndicate dog since forming almost three years ago, they also own Viber who is a product of Groupie Doll’s first and hugely talented litter to Droopys Scolari.

Sean explains, “There’s six of us in the syndicate. Myself and Michael McIlhatton have had many dogs together going back to the early 90’s and we have Dublin bookmakers Trevor and Greg O’Donnell along with Paul Ronan and Conor Monerawela. We would all be Shelbourne Park regulars for many years and the syndicate was formed there really, all standing in our usual spot at the back of the stand.

“We all have our own experiences in dogs for many years but got together to buy a pup at the time and that was Viber. We saw Groupie Doll racing many times and always fancied her as a bitch that could make a good brood. I knew breeder Mickey Flynn for years and fair play to him, he gave me first pick!” 

As a first venture for the syndicate, Viber has won just one race but a thoroughly game performer he has taken his owners to the semi-finals of both the Juvenile Classic at Harolds Cross and the Comerford Cakes Puppy Stake at Shelbourne Park and it’s these high profile events that are the main draw for the Not For Profit Syndicate.

Sian McKenna with Premier Frankel
Sean continues, “Well that’s what the syndicate was formed for really. To have a good Open race dog for Saturday night’s at Shelbourne or the top competitions around the country. With the syndicate you can spread the cost and give yourself a chance of finding that top class performer and maybe getting lucky enough to win a big one, it’s an affordable way of doing it.”

Both Premier Frankel and Viber have been trained through the early part of their respective careers by Owen McKenna who Sean exclaims has done a brilliant job on the syndicates behalf but he does still lament the passing of his former trusted trainer for many years.

“Going back the years and before I moved here to Carrick On Shannon, I’d be rearing my own pups and they would all then go to Seamus Graham for training. And I mean no disrespect to any trainer out there but you won’t get the like of Seamus back again, the greatest of them all!”

Off the track since injured late last season, The Not For Profit Syndicate await an imminent return to action for Viber while they contemplate what the immediate future holds for their new young star Premier Frankel. Both sons of Groupie Doll, Frankel compounded the impressive dam’s influence on the National Greyhound Sales Unraced Stake as it was another youngster from her first litter who claimed that event twelve months prior with the victory of All About Flynn.

Wishing all involved the very best of luck with both these talented runners, Sean vows that the syndicate will continue to seek top competition racers while enjoying every victory along the way. 

“We’ve had great craic so far with Viber going so well and now this win in Cork and we’ll keep having a go. We want to have runners to compete in the top stakes and the syndicate is a great way to aim for that at less cost.”

Champ bids to Snare a local Kirby victory

At any host venue around the country, the feature events of the season can create hugely exciting atmospheres as they welcome talented runners and their connections from kennels nationwide. Doing battle for outright glory, the ultimate victor is certain to receive all due adulation from appreciative patrons, ready to hail their new champion. But, when reaching final stage with local connections still holding realistic claims of victory, it is quite understandable then to find regular patrons together as one in support of their counterparts as they attempt to keep the big prize on home soil.

Such will be the case this coming Saturday evening at Limerick Greyhound Stadium as we prepare for the final of the 2017 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake where Rathnasnare Champ (Ballymac Vic/Corcorans Milly) will carry the hopes of his Limerick based owners, the Pull Like A Dog Syndicate.

Examination of any classic finalist would reveal a story of endeavour with immense depth and all would have a tale to tell but in the case of Rathnasnare Champ we have a runner that embodies so much that is good about greyhound racing as he now seeks to fulfill a lifetime’s ambition for seasoned greyhound racing participants while also attempting to deliver success in the sport’s newest classic for syndicate members who have reached this stage with their very first greyhound!

Well known to all at Limerick through family runners who bear the Tally Ho prefix, Paddy Wall is at the helm for the Rathkeale based syndicate and he tells of the excitement amongst an enthusiastic group of owners who certainly make their presence known when their brilliant early pacer hits the front at Limerick.

Admitting that excitement is high he declares, “I was hardly able to sleep on Saturday night after the semi-final, it’s a dream. Of course we’re absolutely delighted to reach the final and if we could get the line pulled back about a half a length at Limerick, he would have a right chance!” 

Blessed with exceptional early pace, Rathnasnare Champ has been caught on the run home having led in all four of his Kirby heats so far but it was that early pace which attracted the shrewd Wall family when purchasing their aspiring champion in October of last year.

“It was my dad Richard who put me on to him in the first place. He would study form, at Limerick especially, and it was a 525 yard race where he was just caught by Ballymartin Boss which encouraged us to buy him. That dog was flying around Limerick at the time but Champ posted a 4.03 early split on the night which is exceptional. He was young at that stage and you could expect him to get stronger in time so we bought him from Tom Keating and Sean Fitzgerald at that stage.

“I have to say, they had him very well done, he had a great start in life and was ready to continue his improvement. They are lovely people and they were all there with family at Limerick the other night cheering him on which was great, they’re delighted for us. Francis Murray agreed to train him for us then and Francis Junior in particular has really taken him under his wing. They have done everything right by us from the first day he arrived to them and I couldn’t praise them enough.

“He was initially bought to run at Shelbourne Park as most of us work in Dublin and we could have a bit of craic with a good dog for a few nights out but the Kirby was always in the back of the head at the same time. His first race for us was in Dundalk though and I still don’t know how he got beaten having been in front in a 400 yard sprint but still, he had lots of time to mature and he was always going to stay better in time.

“He won a good sprint at Shelbourne then in January, followed that up with a win at Dundalk but he struggled then in a 525 at Limerick in the middle of February although we found after that he had done some damage to a shoulder muscle. That needed work to heal which wasn’t ideal timing as it was leaving almost a month without any serious work before the Kirby. Fair play to Francie though, he campaigned him to perfection, there was four to qualify the first night and he scraped through in fourth with a run that he badly needed at that stage.”

Rathnasnare Champ hit the front in that opening round heat and those in attendance got their first notice that this was to be one the best supported runners in the event as the Pull Like A Dog Syndicate supplied the first big cheers of the 2017 Kirby. There may be only five members but they make the noise of many more and the final roar is certain to be something special if he can hit the front again.

“Well there’s myself and my dad Richard, Paul O’Connor who I went to college with and remains a good mate, Alan Tuohy and the ghost, Dinny O’Connell, because he only turned up for the semi-final! For those three lads this is their first greyhound and I don’t know how I’m going to convince them that it’s not like this every time!

“Ah it’s great to hear the cheering. Sure Francie thought we were going to stop the dog one night in Dundalk with all the roaring he could hear from the middle of the track but that’s nothing compared to what it will be like this week. It would be hard to put a number on it but I’d say we’ll have over a hundred people there, it will be crazy!”

Improving from his first round, Rathnasnare Champ has been beaten by a half length or less in his three subsequent heats when finishing second and his early pace has been one of the stand out features of the entire competition. His task in the final is straight forward, he must lead and attempt to defend that lead in the home-straight.

A natural student of the game, Paddy’s reply when asked if Champ could win the final from Trap 1 this week was, “Yes! Definitely he can win. If I thought he couldn’t lead, I wouldn’t think that and if you lead you obviously have a chance. He probably has a 28.50 run in him and that could get it done if things fell into place. I can’t say how good or bad Trap 1 is for him. He had it twice in his early career but it is obviously a totally different proposition at this stage, we’ll have to wait and see!

“But it is a dream and especially when Limerick is your home track. I think now we will try to have a dog for the Kirby every year and take the approach that if you throw enough darts, one of them will stick eventually! We really got the Kirby bug a few season’s back when Tally Ho Lee won his second round heat and had us dreaming before he got knocked out in the quarter-final but everyone at Limerick would know our kennels and we’re as happy to win a graded race on a Friday night as an Open race on Saturday if we could have the dog to do it so to be in a Kirby final is huge for all of us.

“The closest we have come to a classic was Our Tally Ho who was third in the final of the Oaks at Harolds Cross in 1981. She was owned by my aunt Collette who now lives in England but messaged me shortly after the semi-final to tell me that she had her flight booked to come home for the final this week!”

Having grown up with racing at the Markets Field and now regulars on the Dock Road, Saturday’s final opportunity is a thoroughly deserved reward for Paddy and all the Wall family who reflect so many family racing endeavours within the sport. It was a move out of the ordinary for them when purchasing Rathnasnare Champ for this is Paddy’s first greyhound that was not family bred and to have this level of achievement with good friends in their first ownership venture is a wonderful story of success on so many levels.

Paddy is right when he exclaims that Ratnasnare Champ can win. It will take a huge effort however and he must lead at the opening bend but if emerging in front at the top of the back-straight, prepare to cover your ears because aside from the raucous cheers from his owners and supporting connections, Champ will also have every regular patron of Limerick supporting a local finalist who would reflect their own racing ambitions in so many ways.

While wishing all runners the very best of luck for a safe passage throughout the 2017 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake Final on Saturday, it is fair to say that there will be a slight bias among the packed attendance for the local dog in red!


Five star Pedro the pride of Feakle

Even for the most experienced of greyhound owners, each new pup or racing recruit brings with them a fresh hope for what may lie ahead in their impending career and while the classics are reserved for only a lucky few, our sport is perpetuated and survived in the main by kennel stars who will rarely grab the major headlines but who are, for their adoring owners, superstars of a different form as they endear themselves in varying ways to lucky owners who wouldn’t swap them for the world!

Many can go under the radar with superb personal achievement but deserving of any and all limelight when recording his twentieth race victory at Galway in early February is Jasons Pedro (Cashen Legend/Ballyfidora Pal), owned by the Gurteenree Syndicate of Feakle in Co. Clare, for the game early pacer was remarkably registering victory for a fifth calender year in a row!

Approaching five years of age, the May 2012 whelp scored his first win in a Galway sprint back in November 2013 and reaching a career high mark of A1, retains an admirable level of form given that his latest victory came in A3 grade where his early pace can still prove a potent weapon and syndicate member Damien Pepper reports Pedro in fine form to continue racing into the foreseeable future.

Jasons Pedro and connections following victory in the Greyhound & Pet World A5 Final at Galway in August 2014.
Damien says, “Yeah he’s in good auld form. He ran again at the weekend finishing third but he probably wants to go down a grade at this stage. He has great early pace but with the heavy going at the moment, he’s just struggling to stay on really. Actually he has a bit of a quirk where he eases off at the third bend, I don’t know why it is with him but he’d have a lot more races won only for it.

“But he’s always trying his best, he’s very genuine. We’ve been lucky with him and particularly as he has never had any real injury concern so that has helped him to stay racing at this age. He has a great bit of fire in him and he’s still full of life. He loves to be busy so while he’s still enjoying it that much, we’ll keep tipping away with him.

“There’s seven of us in the syndicate and it was originally started back a few years ago to buy a horse but that fell through for different reasons and one of the lads said that Paddy Moloney in Scariff had a dog for sale, so that’s how it started. Pedro is our third dog in this syndicate so we have been going a while now and actually bought him from Noel Power when he had already a few races under his belt.

“Stevie Murray was training him at the time and of course the dog stayed with Stevie who had been highly recommended to us. He has a busy kennels there but he’s very easy going and he has great help from his daughters Aisling and Rachel who are brilliant with the dogs. I’m actually involved with a few syndicates and many of the owners in the kennels are kind of mixed up in different dogs so we have some very enjoyable nights.”

With an enviable career record having filled a place in the first three on fifty occasions from 79 races, Jasons Pedro didn’t take long to repay his owners once bought and registered the first of two hat-tricks soon after. An A5 stake victory in August of 2014 however brought his career best run in the final and proved the syndicate’s most memorable achievement in support of their game racing star.

Damien continues, “we’ve had some great luck with Stevie in finals actually but that win was great because we have a family pub here in Feakle, Peppers Bar, which would be a traditional irish music pub and the night of that final we had an annual festival in Feakle so arrived back into the middle of it with the Cup after winning the stake in Galway, it was mighty craic.”

Of the seven syndicate members, Damien and his dad Gary along with neighbour Mike Nelson keep greyhounds of their own with five currently residing at the home kennels while joining them in the Gurteenree Syndicate are Mike Tuohy, Declan Minogue, Tim McGrath & Brian Moloney and all are local to Feakle.

The syndicate have an upcoming appointment at Limerick Greyhound Stadium on March 25th where they will be present to support the Feakle GAA Club who hold their annual fundraiser at the track but they can still have many more nights ahead in support of Jasons Pedro also.

“Yeah, he’s going to keep racing for now anyway. He has been some servant and has always paid his way for us. He hasn’t cost us a penny and given us some great times so as long as he’s happy racing we’ll let him do it, and he genuinely loves it!

“We kind of work together with Stevie now and I might keep one here for him an odd time so when Pedro is finished racing, he’ll come back here too for his retirement. It’s gas, over the past few years as the dogs have been winning a few finals, we have found ourselves replacing some pictures on the walls of the pub with pictures of greyhounds but Stevie’s wife Carmel joked with me lately that when Pedro dies we’ll have to get him stuffed and stick him up on the wall!”

Clearly endearing himself to his knowledgeable owners, the career of Jasons Pedro is a credit to all involved with the persistent care and attention that is required to maintain such an extended, competitive career. Scoring victory in five calender years is testament to his own vast resolve and to still be gaining wins in A3 grade approaching five years old is laudable in the extreme.

A high quality graded runner, he represents the large majority of competitor in the sport which fill our race cards while drawing enthusiastic support through the turnstiles and deserves every supporting cheer from his connections. We wish him a successful and safe journey through the remainder of his career. As a beacon for honest endeavour in the sport, he will remain a star in Feakle whether he ends up on the wall or not!

Razor house an idealistic Dream for syndicate ownership

We have featured many syndicates with differing formats and aspirations in this column thus far but grabbing attention when Candid Dreams (Razldazl George/Pukka Babe) reached the final of the Dublin Track Bookmakers Marathon at Harolds Cross recently, the House Of Razor Syndicate were out in force to support a 50/1 shot who was making a dream come true, just by reaching the final.

At first, research on the House Of Razor revealed that the syndicate began in the UK. It has members from around the world and a branch in Ireland which involves rearing and training kennels. It might sound like a vast operation with trainers in the UK also but their workings become a little easier to grasp when speaking with Lynda Bonner of Ballymena as she describes the venture as more of a greyhound community whose primary concern is not the more common goal of winning classic events but to bring like minded people together in support of racing greyhounds at whatever level they achieve while constantly ensuring that any greyhound under their ownership receives only the best of care from birth, through their re-homing process on completion of racing careers.

Lynda explains, “I had been involved in syndicate ownership with some of the people that are in our Irish based group now but we discovered House Of Razor UK which was started by Jeff De La Cruz and realised that we were very aligned to their ethos which was all about welfare of the greyhounds.

“The House Of Razor Uk has members from all around the world and operates as a ‘not for profit’ Racing Club where all monies go towards care, training, purchasing of new dogs and re-homing. Now if they won significant prizemoney there would obviously be a few quid to go around but when you advertise no profit you are much more likely to attract people who think the same as us where care comes first.

 Members of the House Of Razor Syndicate; Nikki Dorney, Kathleen Walshe, Stuart Kavanagh, Gavin Fraser & Padjoe Dorney with Stuart Kavanagh jnr and James Kavanagh.

“Along with Padjoe Dorney, Stuart Kavanagh and Steve Millard who actually lives in the UK, we then formed House Of Razor Ireland and while we are two separate entities, we work in conjunction with our UK counterparts. Club members get to share in all the dogs belonging to the syndicate and we try to promote the family experience. Even if I have my own runners, I like the group to consider them as much theirs as mine!

“I suppose you could call us the add-on to House Of Razor Uk and both groups keep in touch through Facebook pages for each, follow all the dogs progress and arrange meetings at the races. We don’t have too many runners because our ethos is to maintain what we have to the end of their careers and beyond so we can’t keep too many at what is only a small cost to members.

“A main aspect of the venture is to give people an experience of the entire racing industry and all the time stay true to our motto which is ‘pup to couch’! We are our own kind of community within racing and all the dogs from our kennels gather support whether owned by the syndicate or not.
“Members will also get the chance to adopt our runners after they have finished racing which is the most important aspect of the syndicate and we’ve also re-homed some runners through Barry Coleman at the IGB who is always very helpful. He helped with re-homing Pee Aitch Dee for us and I now receive photos and videos from his new owners.

“That dog actually stopped on the home-straight at Longford in one of his races and didn’t finish. Before I got home I had all sorts of messages asking if he was OK and what happened to him but that’s the support we all give each other while trying to create that community feel.”
This community that Lynda and House Of Razor have strived for was clearly in evidence at the final of Ireland’s most prestigious marathon event at Harolds Cross in mid-December as Candid Dreams finished fifth in the 1010 yards final.

“That was a brilliant night. We had about fifteen of us there between family here in Ireland and members coming over from the UK. We knew he would be up against it in that stake but he had reached Open class for six bends at Kilkenny and we thought if he could reach the final at Harolds Cross, it would be a dream come through.

“We didn’t care that he got beaten and I was actually delighted that he was just contesting the lead at the first bend, never mind that there was seven more to go! To be in a final like that with so much history was great. It’s not so much about celebrating victory, it’s about celebrating being there! Sure we were all gathered around him after the race and there was people coming over asking is that the winner?! We had to tell them no, he finished fifth!

“He was trained by Stuart Kavanagh at his kennels in Kilkenny but was bred by Padjoe Dorney in Tipperary. Both these kennels are breeding for the syndicate also and Padjoe is currently rearing a litter out of Hiphip Who Razor (pet named Bluebell) who was trained by Kevin Hutton in the UK for the House Of Razor over there. So, the dogs are interchangeable really between the two entities.”

The relationship between the two branches of House Of Razor are ever developing with each serving to strengthen the other. Communication on their respective Facebook pages is constant with photo and video sharing on a daily basis but also with dogs relocating either side of the pond.

A founder member in Ireland, Stuart Kavanagh describes such saying, “We are a small kennel based in Co. Kilkenny. We met the House of Razor in 2015 when they bought a pup named Lily. Lynda Bonner had seen our add and recommended us to the House of Razor. We then went on to rear and school Lily, now named Razor de Monet, and currently being trained by Kevin Hutton.

“We hit it off straight away as we were very impressed with the club's ethics which are “from pup to couch” and responsible ownership. We are sending over a lovely girl to race in Swindon for the House of Razor, Jimelly Razor, who was bred by Padjoe Dorney and reared by ourselves. She will be trained by Ben McBride.”

With close to twenty members, Lynda describes House Of Razor Ireland as being in it’s infancy but having spoken with Padjoe Dorney who patrons of Thurles Greyhound Stadium will know as a knowledgeable and passionate greyhound racing participant, the strength of this particular syndicate’s convictions were immediately apparent. A respected figure, his passion for the venture warranted further research on my own behalf and what has been made eminently obvious is that the community aspiration of the syndicate has been achieved.

In any walk of life, turning idealism into reality can prove beyond difficult and often impossible. Unwavering with their “pup to couch” ethos however, the House Of Razor are achieving their goals and although it is a big umbrella required to cover all involved, theirs is a venture which embodies all that is good about greyhound racing.

Leaving the last word to Lynda who modestly avoided comment on her recent receipt of an OBE for her work in the treatment of venous thromboembolism she adds, “in these modern days I believe syndicates have a responsibility to engage new owners into the sport and promote ethical greyhound ownership. Racing is just one part of the overall fun of owning greyhounds. Planning a mating for future champions, the excitement of pups being born, watching them playing and growing up, kennel visits and after their racing career ends syndicate members get the opportunity to adopt wonderful ex-professional athletes. I enjoy these syndicates as all the members get to know each other very well and there's a strong family feeling connected with it”.


Nothing like a good Kipper for the Hangover

Cold weather conditions over the past weeks have affected the racing schedule at various venues and has left the Hangover Seven Syndicate with a fortnight delay to see their Kippers Rocket (Ace Hi Rumble/Tromora Dixie) contest the final of the Niall Comerford Memorial A4 525 Yard Stake at Kilkenny. However, with milder conditions predicted this week they will be back in action on Friday night, determined to enjoy more of the racing “craic” that their syndicate name would suggest.

Speaking on behalf of seven members on Saturday last, Ogie O’Meara is a sole Toomevara native amongst six Thurles friends and exclaims, 

Oh sure called off again last night, that’s two weeks now. The waiting is torture but sure there’s nothing can be done. We’ll have a bit of craic this week hopefully. The only real problem with the delay for us was that we had a plan to give him a run in Dublin for Christmas because John Paul Dwan has just moved up there lately and we were going to make a right night out up there for the Christmas, but we’ll hardly make that happen now.”

Five members of the Hangover Seven Syndicate are enjoying their first venture into greyhound racing with Kippers Rocket being their second runner as the syndicate had actually formed in early 2015 for their hugely talented and successful debut runner Kippers Jet (Scolari Me Daddy/Sizzling Gina). The initial decision by the former school friends to begin their ownership adventure was sparked by visits to Thurles track and was further influenced by a syndicate who have previously been profiled on these pages.

Ogie explains of the formation of the syndicate and of the many lively nights at Thurles which led the seven friends now becoming seasoned greyhound racing regulars.

“Well we are all friends from school days but myself and Davy Collins are the only two who were involved in dogs before. I’m living in Borrisoleigh now myself but the six boys are actually renting two houses side by side, straight across the road from Thurles track. And I told you that John Paul has moved to Dublin just lately, well he’s actually living in one of the apartments, looking out at the racing over the second bend in Shelbourne Park!

“Anyway, Davy’s brother Michael was training Davy Of Ozz for the Cant Afford A Horse Syndicate so of course we knew all about the craic they were having. We were following them during the Tipperary Cup and I’m not joking, they were some sessions! That kind of sparked it for us and it was on another session one night that the decision was taken to buy a dog.

“Now some of the boys were throwing out names of big trainers to approach but I said no. Myself and my family have always had great dealings with Brendan Everard of Templetuohy and I told them that he was our man. So we approached Brendan and he was going to source the dog for us and train him too of course.

“He got in touch with John Kennedy for us and at the time, John had a good few nearly ready to race. So then, which I thought was brilliant, John invited us down to Clonmel for a trial session where he was trialing ten unraced dogs and told us that we could have the pick of them after watching them go around.

“There was five of the syndicate in attendance and this is where we picked our first dog, Kippers Jet. He was actually only second in his trial but he ran against an older dog and showed good early pace. John was very fair to us on price too when you think of the breeding he has and considering the dog was ready to race!

“He won his first race then at Kilkenny and we all backed him as well at 3/1 for a nice few quid, sure it was some start for the boys. He went on to an A5 stake at Thurles and went through that unbeaten. That final was some night. We all had the families and friends with us, sure the bar nearly ran out of drink! At that stage he had won his first four races. This was all going too well, I was thinking this dog will never get beat and knowing too well that it’s not often like that!

“He had a few defeats then to bring everyone down to earth a bit but he went sprinting after a while and was very good in fairness. One of the best night’s we had with him was a sprint in Thurles when he beat the Cant Afford A Horse boys with Davy Of Ozz. Sure you can imagine the slagging and jeering that went on that night, twas great craic. Sure it’s all only a session with them too.

“We took him up to Shelbourne for his last few races and he kept improving after turning two years old and fair play to Brendan, he had him flying up there. In his last race for us, he won a SS0 350 yard race in 18.66 which was top class. That night was unreal because we booked the package online and brought the women, then the dog flew around sure it couldn’t have worked out any better.

“We got loads of offers to sell him after that run and we decided it was the right time to say yes. We did ok too considering the dog was 29 months and he went over to the UK to continue his career. Although there was a little bit of resistance from Philly Ryan who wanted to keep him and have him as a pet when he was finished racing!

“So the syndicate was in good profit after that but we always keep on top of the kitty anyway. After building a fund to start in the first place we have always kept it topped-up with a tenner a week from everyone just in case anything crops up and that’s all this is costing us but having said that, the prizemoney is still in the kitty, never touched!

“It’s easy say it but it’s not about the money. We were all great friends going to school and you could easily lose touch but this keeps us together. I have a new child now and it’s the only chance I get to go out really. It’s a much better excuse than saying I’m just going down to the pub! It wouldn’t be too often that I’d get to see the lads if it wasn’t for the syndicate.

“So anyway, he paid for the next dog and we were onto Brendan straight away, no waiting around. Now we would love to have gone back to John Kennedy again but he didn’t have anything the right age so Brendan found Kippers Rocket for us. He was called Tromora Boy but we decided to keep the Kippers name going, it was simple, way more simple than naming the first dog.

“Kippers Jet was always called that but we were going to come up with a name of our own. We have a Whatsapp group for the syndicate and the lads were throwing out names there but Killian McNally was actually googling “good greyhound names” and throwing these at us as if we could use those famous names. So we just said we’d leave it as it was!” 

Now settled on the Kippers prefix, the Hang Over Seven Syndicate will be easy to keep track of and any night in their presence is assured entertainment. Witnessing new owners enjoying success and lively nights out in support of their pride and joy is one of the most satisfying aspects of our sport. So in that regard, the efforts of Ogie O’Meara and Davy Collins in facilitating this venture for five syndicate members who had never previously owned a greyhound is most laudable.

They are ambassadors for a sport that they grew up within and like many who have been highlighted in this column previously, set an example to all greyhound folk. Their friendly association with the Cant Afford A Horse Syndicate has set a wonderful tone on many exciting nights at their home venue in Thurles, even in rivalry and their commitment shown when immediately seeking a new runner in the form of Kippers Rocket ensures their greyhound racing participation, long into the future.

Now preparing for another final on Friday at Kilkenny, it is wonderful to hear from Ogie O’Meara whose family have tasted coursing success at the very highest level through their famous Chubbys prefix including Coursing Oaks victory in 2007. The enjoyment gleaned from the track exploits of his syndicate is palpable throughout the conversation although he is fearful that they may be forced to settle for second place this week.

“Ah you have to say that Brendan has done well for us again in sourcing Kippers Rocket. He won his first race at Kilkenny, same as the last lad but they were a bit wised up to us this time, they would only give us 4/5! I think myself he’ll probably be second in the final. He was second and third to the same dog, Condor Merlin, in the heats and we’d need a fast break to lead him at the bend to have any chance of beating him.

“But even so, we have had a great start again. Overall the syndicate has had a total of twenty-four races and only been outside the first 3 in four of those so you can’t complain about that. We have a lot of lads trying to make their way into the syndicate now too but we’re going to stay as we are and sure whatever happens on Friday, we’ll have another good night out!”


Clutching to hopes for a lucky 13 in Leger final

Winning is not everything! An over used excuse when attempting to offer praise for genuine sporting endeavour that ultimately fell short of victory. However, in the case of 2016 Kerry Agri-Business Irish St Leger finalist Leave At Dawn it quite accurately describes his achievements since first purchased by the Clutching At Straws Syndicate for he has delivered on his brief when bought to contest classic events and he will now bring his delighted owners to Limerick Greyhound Stadium for a final this coming Saturday, taking his place in what was his ultimate target despite never winning a race for his new owners.

A January 2013 whelp, Leave At Dawn first raced at Limerick in the 2015 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake when eliminated from the second round but despite not purchasing for almost eighteen months after, syndicate member Eoin Flynn of Tarbert in Co.Kerry explains that it was in that event that Leave At Dawn made an impression on his future owners.

Eoin says, “at that time we were going into Limerick to watch the Kirby and we were kind of on the look out for a track dog. Most of us would be involved in coursing but we like to have a track dog on the go, especially if they could be good enough to contest the big races.

“But at that time I was with Colin O’Connor and he never had a dog before. Sure it came up that we might think about buying one together and as things went on we recruited a few of the lads and there is seven of us involved in the syndicate, as well as trainer Brendan Matthews. He of course had the dog in the Kirby and we liked him even then but sure it was easy to like him, his brother Cable Bay went on to win it!”

Eoin and his brother Conor Flynn will be well known to coursing followers as their family are one of the most successful in that sphere during the modern era with two Oaks victories in the last three seasons at Clonmel, adding to their Champion Stakes success in 2013 with Hopes And Dreams. Factor in Derby success for the family of syndicate member Kevin Purtill and the exploits of coursing sage Brendan Matthews, every classic in that code has been claimed by members of the Clutching At Straws syndicate.

It could be conceived that the syndicate may take this appearance in the Irish St Leger final fully in their stride having tasted such success but Eoin concedes that excitement is high in North Kerry ahead of Saturday’s final. “Since we bought him actually, the whole syndicate has never been together when he ran. Sure we have Shane Enright playing senior football for Kerry all summer and Brendan so busy with the dogs, it’s hard to get everyone, every night. But we’ll all be there Saturday!

“It’s a classic and in fairness being from North Kerry, I’ve grown up hearing about the Leger all my life and there’s a few of the syndicate working in Limerick also. Whatever we’d be doing with coursing dogs, the Leger is always a massive big deal and this is where we wanted to be with this dog when we bought him. We wanted a dog that could run in the big races and he has mixed it with the best of them in the Laurels for us and sure it was only a photo-finish that knocked him out in the third round of the Derby, but the Leger was always the goal.

“It did take us a while to get our act together and buy him all the same after that first time seeing him in the Kirby and sure he was gone three years old when we bought him back in June. I had an inkling that there might be a chance to buy him and I sourced him for the syndicate, despite Conor’s claims that he did! That’s where the syndicate name comes from sure, they say you’re fairly clutching at straws when you’re buying a three year old dog!

“But at least at that stage we knew what we were buying and we had a dog to run in the classics. It was good timing too as some of the lads were involved in the syndicate for Parish Hero who was just coming to the end of his career. They had great sport with him, trained by our main man back home Pat O’Connor and actually any other dog we bought would have been going to Pat but sure you’re not going taking a dog out of Brendan Matthews’s kennel!

“The syndicates are great and even though we were buying a high class dog, between seven of us it was affordable. We enjoy the nights out at the track, especially big occasions like this and sure with Shane training all summer with the footballers, the track then becomes his social life when he wouldn’t be going out otherwise.”

Under his new ownership, Leave At Dawn has contested twelve races and has yet to add to his tally of eight wins! A consistent strong runner however, he has shown the ability to qualify from precarious positions and is essentially exactly what he was bought for, an ideal competition dog.

With a touch of laughter Eoin addresses this point while exclaiming, “yeah ok but this could be lucky number 13! And Michael Keenan who has been handling him at Limerick all through the competition told me last week that Brendan is coming down for the final this week to work his magic, so we have that in our favour too!”

That Brendan Matthews factor must be given the greatest of respect ahead of Saturday’s race for his record in finals, especially on the Dock Road, speaks volumes for his ability to have his challengers peaking on the big occasion. Claiming back to back Con & Annie Kirby victories with Boylesports Hero and Cable Bay, would it be the biggest shock of all time if Leave At Dawn gave his owners a first victory on the biggest stage?!

Eoin retains that hope and admits that it is not beyond the realms of possibility, especially after a very pleasing final draw. “Well in fairness we couldn’t have wished for a better draw. We are the only seeded runner and Trap 6 is ideal really. You don’t want to wish any of the runners bad luck but when you look at it, Jaytee Dutch inside him could move towards the rails and make things tight in there with our fellow racing up on the outside on his own, you never know!

“There is a fast break in him too and if you look back to the Scottish Derby semi-final, before we bought him, he bombed away there and won. So if it was a thing he could do that again, he would definitely have a chance and he does run the bends better at Limerick than anywhere else he ran.

“Of course Priceless Brandy is the dog to beat. That was some run last week and sure if he does it again, fair play to him, he’s a super dog. But he’ll have to break well too and sure all the rest of will be hoping he doesn’t do it again. Having said that, you have to worry about them all and we’ll be delighted for whoever wins it. We’re sporting people ourselves, we’re happy to be there with a chance and we’ll take whatever Saturday brings.”

The full list of syndicate members are Brendan Matthews, Eoin and Connor Flynn, Kevin Purtill, Colin O’Connor, John Kelleher and Kerry Senior Footballer, All Ireland and All Star winning corner back Shane Enright. We wish them and Leave At Dawn the very best of luck in the final of the Kerry Agri-Business Irish St Leger. Here’s hoping for lucky 13!


Glamour girls score with a very cool Daddy

One of the most prestigious graded stakes on the entire calendar, the A1 525 Yard Langton Hotel & Track Supporters Club Derby at Kilkenny Greyhound Stadium, more often than not, requires any aspiring winner to possess talents beyond that A1 level and in 2016 the event returned a most impressive victory for Me Phat Daddy (Scolari Me Daddy/Lemon Soul) who extends the brilliant ownership exploits of the Glamour Paws Syndicate in Kilkenny.

Joining the AA0 ranks having claimed the €4,700 first prize, he delivered on his early career promise by winning three of his four heats in the competition. Recording a career best 28.79(-30) in Round 1, he completed the event with a most accomplished display from his suitable Trap 1 draw when keeping pace with 2015 Tipperary Cup winner Black Tom to the opening bend before asserting his dominance on the back-straight for a strong running five and a half length verdict.

The Glamour Paws Syndicate following the victory of Me Phat Daddy in the Langton Hotel and Track Supporters Club Derby at Kilkenny Greyhound Stadium
A third racing representative for his winning owners who began their syndicate with none other than Scolari Me Daddy in 2009, Me Phat Daddy will now target the Waterford Masters with syndicate member Aileen Lennon, daughter of trainer and prolific breeder Dinny Lennon in Threecastles, hopeful that he can continue to improve.

“He’s running great, we’re delighted with him. He’s just starting to come into his own now actually. He gave a long time where he wasn’t really right in himself, just not eating well even though there didn’t appear to be much wrong. But he came through that, was back eating and Dad said to me back in June or July, he’s right now! From that day to this, he has just kept improving, long may it last!

“He’s up in Open class now so you have no choice, you have to take them on but we’ll go to the Masters in Waterford before we think about Shelbourne. It’s a bit closer for us all going racing and it’s a very good competition to see how he can match up with the top dogs. He might lack a bit of early pace at that level but he wasn’t too far off Black Tom, who is a very fast runner, going to the bend in the stake so that’s encouraging and he’s developing to be very strong at 525 yards so you’d think that he can go to 550 in the future. His times are good at Kilkenny though and they should hold up anywhere really, so here's hoping!”

Scolari Me Daddy
The Glamour Paws Syndicate has been hugely successful and although Scolari Me Daddy’s career was interrupted with injury, the eight glamorous ladies who make up the syndicate enjoyed a wonderful start with a Derby quarter finalist who was one of the fastest of his generation. A second runner followed who was naturally always going to be a son of the now successful sire and Me Daddy Rocks was another smart sort, reaching A1 while bridging the gap to the arrival of Me Phat Daddy.

The syndicate ownership experience is one that Aileen, thoroughly enjoys and along with her family, truly believes that it has a very important part to play in the promotion of the sport.

“We had a great start in fairness and not everyone is going have a dog as good as Scolari Me Daddy who will end up at stud. I would like to think though, and I do believe, that even if the first dog had turned out to be less than average, we would have kept the syndicate going.

“With us, it was myself and my sister Kathleen that started the syndicate and we were lucky to have dad doing his best to get us a good one, which in fairness he always does for a syndicate because he wants them have a good experience and promote the sport. But our other six girls have had a great experience and really gotten into the whole thing.

“I don’t think people realise enough just how easy it is to do it. We just started off with €100 each and put €30 a month into it after that. When you think of the cost of entertainment these days, it’s for nothing! All you want after that is someone to take control of things and Aine Costello does that for us thankfully, she’s great. Poor auld Dinny would never get paid if it was left to the rest of us!

“I know we’ve been lucky but we’ve never had to put any extra into the pot, even with Me Daddy Rocks who wasn’t as good as the other two. Making money out of the syndicate wasn’t the priority  but we’ve been lucky and we are in profit, especially with the few bob coming from Scolari Me Daddy’s matings who I must thank all the Dunphy Family for. They have been great to deal with, we couldn’t praise them enough.

“Our aim every year is to have the price of a good night out at Christmas and thankfully we have been lucky enough to do that every year so far. We would take a few a quid each out of the pot after a big win like the stake at Kilkenny but otherwise it stays in the kitty so that we’re always ready for anything that might crop up.”
Me Daddy Rocks

Of the eight members, it is only the Lennon sisters Aileen and Kathleen who were involved in greyhounds prior to the formation of the syndicate but the remainder are now firmly converted race goers with Aileen explaining, “Yeah there mad for it. Like I said, they have had a great experience so far, lucky really. But we all go racing as much as possible, none of us want to miss him racing. There was two missing for the final last week but they had good excuses. One of the girls had a wedding to attend but Karen Fitzpatrick was giving birth to her first child, a baby girl arrived who on Sunday morning!”

The previously unmentioned syndicate members are Catriona Drennan, Katie Norton who is a lone Tipperary woman amongst seven Kilkenny cats, Lorraine Norton and Aisling Maher.
Asked about the naming of their dogs and of the syndicate Aileen exclaims, “Oh Karen is the glamorous one, the rest of us just follow but we have done some agonising over the naming of the dogs. We were taking ages to come up with a name for Me Phat Daddy but the forms had to be sent away and my brother Tom, doing a bit of messing with us, named him Sugar Lollipop and sent it away!

“Now we weren’t having that and Dinny wasn’t best pleased with it either. He came back from the track after giving him his first trial and said to me, you may go and change that fella’s name fairly quick. I was happy enough to hear that because it probably meant he was decent so I tried first to get Whos The Daddy but that was a registered prefix. Now Phat is supposed to mean cool but not everyone in Ireland gets it, so we still get a bit of stick about the name. It’s still better than Sugar Lollipop though!”

The ownership history of the Glamour Paws Syndicate is a wonderfully successful story and they have shown that for minimal investment and admittedly with a touch of good fortune, syndicate ownership can be a fruitful and exciting way to be involved in greyhound ownership and we wish them all the very best of luck as Me Phat Daddy prepares for the Waterford Masters and beyond.

If you wish to learn more about greyhound ownership or the formation of your own syndicate, you will find all the help and information you need on where you can download our ownership brochure, syndication registration forms or read about more successful syndicates and their own individual approaches to owning a racing greyhound. Also don’t be shy in asking the many friendly greyhound folk you will encounter at your local track, you will find that are all only too happy to welcome new owners to the sport and help in every way they can.


Late purchase may have Larry in Paradise

It is without doubt the dream of every owner in racing to find a greyhound good enough to contest the Irish Greyhound Derby and some lucky few do get to realise that dream.

We have already profiled some of this year’s syndicate owned contenders and heard of the extensive preparations in readiness for a Derby assault but the story of College Paradise and the Metinthehalfway Syndicate sets out a new template for syndicate’s seeking a classic runner as thirty minutes before the opening round draw, they didn’t even own him!

Now preparing to contest the second semi-final of the 2016 Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby, Larry Keane of Ballymacelligot in Co.Kerry tells of the last minute scramble to buy the dog in time for the draw. Asked if it was true that he was bought just one hour beforehand Larry replies, “It was even closer than that, twenty-five minutes! The draw was on the Monday at 12 noon and we had him bought at 11.35!”

College Paradise (Paradise Madison/Boreenmanna Girl) was formerly owned by Frank Culloty and began his career with an exceptional display in A2 stake victory at Tralee when clocking 28.30 in the final. A run to the semi-final of the Produce Stakes followed at Clonmel before adding further Open race victories at Tralee and these smart efforts had caught the eye of the shrewd Shane Dowling, as Larry explains.

“Well Shane had been kind of watching the dog all along anyway and liked him, they have his sister in the kennels. He spotted him for sale on the internet and was immediately interested. There’s eight of us in the syndicate and we’re all from Ballymac bar Pauric McCormack but there was five of us met up in the Halfway Bar on the Sunday night and Liam Dowling says to us, get a few lads together and we’ll buy him!

“Ah sure every week since has been like a dream. I went to collect him on the Monday morning so he only really had three days with Liam before the first round. Getting through that night in fourth place was big result. But he was being trained by Mossy O’Connor and we have to give him great credit because he arrived Derby ready.

“He’s a tough, cool and sober dog though, nothing phases him. He jumped into the van the first day, you’d swear he was in it all the time and the same when he was kennelled up. He seems like he would settle anywhere.

“With the eight of us in the syndicate, the money wasn’t too much for him at all and as Liam said at the time, we bought him to have a bit of craic. That’s how all the lads see it and sure it proves you don’t have to break the bank, it’s not all about paying fortunes but you do have to get a bit of luck and thankfully we have got that so far in the Derby.

“He’s improving every night and in fairness, we have a good draw again for the semi-final. He’s a dead railer and if he can get a clear run from trap 1, well then we’re in with a chance to make the final. But if he gets knocked out, he gets knocked out. There won’t be any of us disappointed with him and he’ll still have the consolation on final night. All the lads are of the one mind, dogs are there to be enjoyed. There’s none of us in it to get rich, we all go out the one gate in that regard.”

College Paradise is without a heat win in the Derby thus far but has, as Larry asserts, improved with each run. He appeared to be a threatening presence when looming large behind Roxholme Barkley on the back-straight in the opening quarter-final last Saturday until a third bend stumble cost him any win claims. His was an admirable effort to retain second place when back on an even keel and in a Derby where many more fancied runners have faltered, his 50/1 quote at this stage does appear rather generous.

“Ah we only have a small few quid on him at fancy prices from the start, it wouldn’t break the bookies if he won. We’re just delighted that he’s still there at this stage. Sure it’s like a fairytale, we couldn’t honestly ask for any more.”

The complete syndicate along with Larry consists of Liam, Shane & Jane Dowling, Derek O’Brien, Joe Galvin and John Rice, all from Ballymacelligot with Pairic McCormack of Kildare. All are seasoned greyhound owners with the Dowling training team seeking back to back Derby victories in 2016 having guided current champion Ballymac Matt to the semi-finals also.

“I haven’t spoken to Liam since Sunday but he was happy enough with both dogs at that stage. It would be great if he could get both in to the final and in fairness both dogs have been improving through the Derby. Our fellow was bought on the strength that Liam was going to be training him and you couldn’t be in a better place.”

Of the syndicate, only Paddy McCormack has been making the trips to Shelbourne for each round which is admittedly less arduous than the long trek from Co.Kerry and Larry will again watch College Paradise from home this week.

“No I’m not going to go up this week either. I’m not going to jinx it now! We’ll change nothing. We’ll be there for final night, whether in the big one itself or the consolation but we’ll let Shane off with him again for this week.”

As with most owners in the event, survival from week to week in the Derby is the primary concern and Larry had not even considered the possible trip to Shelbourne Park this coming Monday for the Derby lunch, should College Paradise advance. “Ha, that had never even entered my head, I better warn the boss that Monday could be out of it!”

Although not a member of the syndicate, our closing conversation remembered the exploits of Larry’s father Jerome Keane who not only trained The Limit to Coursing Oaks victory in 1965 but also trained Ask Clare who was runner-up in the 1991 Irish Greyhound Derby to Ardfert Mick. At 91 years young, Larry exclaims that Jerome is as invested in the fortunes of College Paradise as much as any runner that went before and will too be watching with bated breath from Kerry this coming Saturday evening.

Another syndicate formed from long standing friendships, it is quite unique in Derby terms when considering the last minute rush to purchase this classic contender. As Larry intimates, there is a story behind every Derby winner but his would be one of the more unusual should it come to pass that College Paradise lands the biggest prize of all.

We wish the syndicate and all extended connections a safe passage through the semi-final whatever the outcome and only the very best of sporting luck.


Cats aim to be on top at final Belle!

Arguably the two most inherently Irish of all Irish pastimes, the GAA and Greyhound Racing have been intrinsically linked throughout generations of feverish participation in a sports hungry nation. How appropriate it is that the Senior Inter County Championships in both Football and Hurling draw to their conclusions during the five weeks of Irish Greyhound Derby action at Shelbourne Park when both associations crown their ultimate champions of the year.

Greyhound Racing welcomes GAA Clubs to tracks all around the country for social gatherings, fundraising events or simply for a good night’s craic, all throughout the yearly calender where the interaction of young and old from both sports is as healthy and enriching a social endeavour as the respective governing bodies or marketing departments could ever wish to achieve.

With a full appreciation of this wonderful association and upon first seeing the racing name of Cats Belle (Tullymurry Act/Lemon Belle) on a Kilkenny programme in late June, it was with much certainty that I could assume to be making contact with her owners for this column before the now almost inevitable appearance of Kilkenny in the All Ireland Final for she is owned by the Kilkenny Senior Hurlers Syndicate.

Chief instigator of the syndicate which contains most of the Kilkenny starting fifteen is Chairman of the Kilkenny Supporters Club John Mackey. Many in Greyhound Racing will know John who has raced his own track dogs under his “Foyle” prefix and he explains that the venture is mainly down to himself and 2008 Hurler Of The Year Eoin Larkin.

“Well as Chairman of the Supporters Club I’d know all the lads very well and you’d have plenty of gatherings and chats after games. The idea of forming a syndicate came up at one stage and sure Eoin has had a few dogs himself up and down so it just took off with us really but there was loads of the lads interested which was great. I drove on then and spoke to Tom & Dinny Lennon and they had one lined up for us in no time.”

The breeding of Cats Belle will have already caught the eye of greyhound enthusiasts, as indeed would any from the prolific “Lemon” breeding kennels in Threecastles, for she is a half-sister to the 2016 Sporting Press Irish Oaks winner Witches Belle. Her dam Lemon Belle has thrown top quality racers in every litter and although this Cat has yet to sample the euphoria of victory that her owners have become so accustomed to, the signs are a plenty that she will enter the winner’s circle sooner rather than later.

Cats Belle has raced five times and they have been almost identical defeats. Slow breaks have seen her trailing in the early strides, finding bumping and crowding before eventually securing racing room to go in search of a leader who has simply gotten too far ahead of her. However, every run has seen her display exceptional pace, especially from the second bend to home and a first win would appear imminent. In fact, she appears capable of much better than her current A4 grading would suggest, an assertion that John Mackey concurs with.

“Well Tom & Dinny are looking after her and she could not be in a better place. Like, I think it’s twelve of us in the syndicate and that makes the whole thing very affordable anyhow but Tom & Dinny couldn’t be kinder to us in that regard either, you couldn’t say enough good about them.
“It is a pity that she hasn’t won a race yet but she has been quare unlucky really, unreal almost! She’s not breaking at all. You’d like to think she will eventually but even at that she has shown exceptional pace, she’ll do a big run yet!”

It’s only natural that Cats Belle should have started her career at home in Kilkenny but Tom Lennon and John himself acknowledge that a change of scenery may be needed to ignite her career and bring out that seemingly inevitable “big run”.

“She was actually due to run at Thurles this weekend with a step up in trip to try give her a chance but she’s had a small setback that will keep her off for about a fortnight. We’d love to leave her at Kilkenny with Tom Kinane, he has been so good to us. I have fierce admiration for that man, he’s a true gentleman and he couldn’t have done more to help us with any little thing we needed. Still, it’s the right thing for her own sake at this stage and sure Tom understands that too but hopefully she will be back to Kilkenny at some stage.

“We’ve had great nights with her so far and sure hopefully there’ll be many more. You take it, at this time of the year, the lads are training hard and nights out would be limited really so a trip to the dogs is ideal, and they do go! They were all there the last night when she was second in the final and none of them misses a race if they can help it at all.

“There has been evenings there where they’d come straight from training and wouldn’t go for the meal back at Langton’s until after the race. Or, they have also started training sessions early so that they’d be finished in time for her race. It’s a great outlet for all of us and we have a few quid on her too if we fancied her, which we did the last night but honestly none of them cared that she lost, only that she came back to us fit and healthy.”

One of the greatest wishes for any new syndicate is that the experience of those owning their first greyhound will find it a rewarding venture and maybe keep them in our sport long into the future. While John Mackey and Eoin Larkin are here to stay, such is the interest they have created amongst the syndicate that they now will extend their presence in greyhound racing by again purchasing from the Lemon Kennels with a dog pup for next year. So, just like the hurling, it appears that these Cats are here to stay!

I couldn’t end this gratefully accommodating conversation with John without his prediction for this week’s All Ireland Final and he offered a far from biased opinion. “Honestly, both of them are going to give it a right rattle and I’d only just favour our lads. It’s almost too tight to honestly call. What I do really hope is that everybody on the field has a good game. The hurlers, the ref, umpires, linesman, the whole lot of them because it’s going to be that tight!”

As a true blue Tipperary native myself, I will echo John Mackey’s sentiments regarding Sunday’s hurling decider at Croke Park while also wishing his syndicate and all panel members the very best of sporting luck. I will fervently cheer for a Kilkenny defeat but sure who could expect any less?
However, win, lose or draw, I will look forward to meeting the Kilkenny Senior Hurlers Syndicate when Cats Belle arrives for racing at Thurles, where Liam McCarthy will hopefully be resident at that point. I will, like all the greyhound racing community wish her well in search of her first victory and the many that will hopefully follow as she rises through the grading table, providing many more entertaining night’s out in another wonderful sporting association between the GAA and Greyhound Racing.

The remaining members of the syndicate are Colin & Michael Fennelly, Walter Walsh, John Power, Kieran Joyce, Conor Fogarty, Joey Holden, Richie Hogan, Eoin Murphy, Ger Aylward, Jonjo Farrell and Joe Lyng.


Falcon must take flight to reach third Derby final

The 2016 Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby is as strong in depth as any in recent memory with runners who have already achieved superstar status, stalwarts of the Irish Open race scene in search of an elusive classic victory which will see their name forever immortalised in the record books, along with young pretenders ready to stake their claim as one of racing’s luminaries.

There is one runner in this year’s renewal however who will remain undaunted by his fellow rivals, whatever the reputation, as the N-J-G-P Syndicate’s Peregrine Falcon (Ace Hi Rumble/Minefield) has seen it all before, twice! Many syndicate’s begin with the purchase of a young pup and dreams that they may one day become a Derby contender but “the falcon’s” ownership took a different approach and purchased a proven classic challenger who had already contested the 2015 Irish Derby final.

The syndicate comprises of four members with Pat Curtin at the helm for fellow owners, former Irish international footballer Niall Quinn, his good friend Jack Tierney and Galway native Gerry Hughes who took time out from a busy schedule to talk about their chances in this year’s event having seen Peregrine Falcon finish fourth to Ballintee Annie in his opening Heat 5 on Thursday last.

Back in Ireland for a few days to celebrate a “significant” birthday, Gerry reveals that this campaign may be a little tougher for the dual Derby finalist after a stunted preparation. “The Derby may have come a week or two too soon for him this time. He hasn’t got the work under him that you would have liked really but between us we decided to let him take his chance and all in all he struggled in the first round. The run would need to have brought him on a fair bit, but he did need that run, so hopefully it will.”

These sentiments were echoed by Noel Hehir who now trains Peregrine Falcon for his good friend Pat Curtin and confirmed that he had just a few gallops on top of a sprint trial ahead of round 1. However Peregrine Falcon is a battler and must not be discounted too soon. He thrilled audiences twelve months ago when winning his opening four heats of the 2015 Derby on his way to the final when only beaten by two and a quarter lengths to Ballymac Matt having suffered crowding at the first bend.

He then further enhanced his credentials as a top class competition racer when starting favourite for the Irish St Leger final at Limerick before again suffering significant baulking at the opening bend, putting paid to his classic aspirations once more. This early part of his career was under the ownership and care of Patrick O’Brien and his wife Ciara Bray whose mum had bred Peregrine Falcon and Gerry Hughes reveals that the N-J-G-P Syndicate had a wait before getting their hands on the future English Derby finalist.

“We actually tried to buy him a year before we did get him. Pat had his eye on him and we made approaches but connections were reluctant, which you can appreciate. But the chance came up again and we went for it, at least we’d have a dog to go to Wimbledon.”

Peregrine Falcon set about reaching a second Derby final when claiming victory in the first round at Wimbledon and proceeded to plot his passage to the final thereafter. He faced a battle for fitness following his quarter-final when Pat Curtin reported him very sore but to his credit, the teak tough classic racer found a way to qualify from a high quality semi-final. That final however would bring yet more final woe with more bumping and crowding plaguing his efforts for glory.

Despite defeat Battersea publican Gerry recalls that English Derby campaign as truly memorable. “The English Derby was an amazing buzz, nothing could have bettered that. Well, it could I suppose, he could have won it but still it was a brilliant experience to be there in the final. Everyone in the pub here got interested and you had so many of the lads coming over from Ireland to support us, we won’t ever forget that! Yeah he lost but sure we still celebrated. We had a right night back at the pub after the final, we all let our hair down. We had Niall spinning the old girls around the floor ‘n all, great craic. I know him for a good few years at this stage, through the coursing at first but we’ve had a few nights other than that too, you couldn’t meet a nicer fella!”

Gerry is proprietor of Flanagans Pub in Battersea, London and having experienced some of that support on site over the course of English Derby weekend, I can attest first hand to that buzz Gerry refers to. First sampling his exceptionally high quality Guinness on Friday, patrons were engrossed in Derby conversation at every turn, conducted by barmaid Zoe who was armed with all relevant information having attended a lively Derby lunch earlier in the week.

From Saturday morning through to late afternoon, the Irish contingent began to swell the numbers in Flanagans with many recognisable faces from both track and field in readiness for Peregrine Falcon’s Derby final assault. A warm environment amidst comfortable surroundings, with a most accommodating host, Flanagans Bar should be taken in on any future visits to London and definitely if going Greyhound Racing.

Peregrine Falcon will continue his bid to reach a third Derby final in the closing Heat 16 of round 2 this coming Saturday. Gerry admits that he has found a very tough draw with fellow English Derby finalist Droopys Roddick on his immediate outer and his Irish St Leger conqueror Skywalker Rory in trap 3. However as Gerry confirms, trap 1 will suit ideally if he can rekindle his old spark.

“Yeah look, it’s a very tough heat. He’ll have to improve from last week. On paper it looks as if third place is up for grabs by the rest of us and if he could defend the rails, he’d have a chance to qualify.”

We wish the N-J-G-P Syndicate the best of luck with Peregrine Falcon’s future career and more over, a safe passage throughout this Derby campaign. Few greyhounds ever get to contest one Derby final, let alone two and he will join a very small, elite group of racers should he find the form to negotiate his way to this year’s final. Even if not, his career, having already reached three classic finals must not go without huge praise in arguably the most competitive era in recent memory. Peregrine Falcon is a true classic racer, a battler and a wonderfully game competition greyhound, we’d all love to own on as good as him!


King of the Castle seeks Fame in Derby

For many in greyhound racing, the dream of being involved with a Derby runner can remain just that, a dream, which can easily elude even the hardest working owners for an entire lifetime. That could very plausibly have been the case for Michael Farrell of Cahir who resisted the possibility of a break from greyhound racing and now finds himself with a Derby contender of real merit as head of the Famous Five Lads Syndicate.

A young Cahir Castle (Ninja Jamie/Sporting Dame) will represent the Tipperary based syndicate in Heat 13 of the 2016 Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby this coming Saturday at Shelbourne Park and gives Michael a first Derby runner following thirty years of ownership. Of the remaining members in the syndicate however, he explains that for three of them, this is their very first track dog!

“We’re all from Cahir so know each other for years but Philip Shealy is the only one other than myself who would have any experience with greyhounds before we formed the syndicate. We have David Walsh of the Cahir House Hotel, Michael Duggan and Kevin Fogarty. Now we did start the syndicate with a Coursing bitch who unfortunately didn’t turn out to be good enough so the lads didn’t get much good out of that when she was losing in the first round all the time.

“We were in Clonmel for the festival that year, 2015, and we were asking the question, would we start again with another Coursing dog? For the sake of the syndicate and to try get a few good nights out, I said we’ll go with a tracker instead, it would be a better experience for the lads. If he turned out to be average, he’d still win a race or two and they’d get more craic that way.

“I wouldn’t keep too many here at home, only one or two really but I would often rear a couple for a friend Mike Roe and we’d do a deal that I’d keep a pup. He sent me off to Jerry Griffin anyway this time to pick a dog and a bitch from the litter and I had a choice of three dogs, I think I came away with the right one! Anyway, it was my turn to keep a dog this time around so that’s how I came to have him and he became the next one for the syndicate.”

Cahir Castle began his career with defeat following significant baulking on debut at Kilkenny but switched to Shelbourne next time, completely demolished A3 company in a 12 runner stake when clocking a brilliant 28.15 in just his third career start.

Asked if he knew this level of performance was imminent in that May event Michael explains, “well I had given the dog to Tommy Dunford at the start of the summer because it’s my busy time of the year and I didn’t want him missing out on anything. Tommy gave him a few trials and really there still wasn’t any major clues that we had a Derby dog. As Tommy said, he was going the right way!

“I had him back myself then but he got a problem with his hock, some sort of a bite from something or other and that took a lot of time and work to fix up but I was in no rush with him. When he was OK again I gave him a trial in Clonmel and he went right well. The track was very slow the same day and there wasn’t a dog break 17.00, but he did! That was his first official mark, 16.70, and without much fitness work done so I said to myself, you can run alright!


“I rang Owen McKenna shortly after that and asked if he would take him. He said give me a couple of weeks, I was delighted that he took him. I have to thank him for everything actually, he has been very good to us and all his family, they’re a pleasure to be involved with. Anyway, he had a trial with Owen and I don’t mind telling you at this stage it was 28.75 around Kilkenny. So when he told me, Michael, this is a top class dog, it was time to get a bit excited.”

Cahir Castle has had only seven races ahead of his Derby tilt but further enhanced his credentials in his latest outing of mid June when impressively overhauling Anopheles close home, posting 28.33 in a strong staying short-head victory. An intended appearance in the ECC Timber 550 Yard Puppy Stake was bypassed having suffered just a minor setback but Michael is not overly concerned about the lack of a recent race.

“Yeah it’s fair to say he’ll be going to the first round plenty fresh enough but Owen will have him spot on and if things went well, he should improve for his early runs. Sure all we’re really hoping for is to get through a round or two, that would be brilliant. Of course you’re going to dream but you couldn’t say that getting knocked out of the Derby would be the end of the world for our dog, whenever it comes. He only turned two in June so we have plenty to look forward to beyond the Derby.


“Although, David Walsh might say otherwise. He says to me about two months ago, when we thought he was going for the ECC Timber, that he had a dream the dog won the Derby. I hope he’s right!

“Ah it’s great and I think the lads are fairly excited but in fairness you wonder if they really know how lucky they are, being so new to it all. This is a dream, you can’t deny that. I didn’t think I’d ever have a dog this good and but for Michael O’Donovan and the great Eddie Wade giving me a few dogs to school up from time to time, I could easily have taken a break from the game. My wife Elaine is a saint, she does all the walking and only for she understands the sport so much, I could be divorced long ago!

“I’m not nervous really because I’m not going to think about it. I’m just glad to have found a dog of his quality after thirty years of it all. Once he comes off the track safe after every round, win or lose, I’ll be happy! He has done everything right from the day I brought him home. He’s a calm clean kenneller and very, very genuine.”

With such an impressive start to his racing career it was inevitable that Cahir Castle would attract much attention from prospective new owners and Michael confirms that the Famous Five did turn down a substantial offer.

“We did, we got a serious offer and the truth is we called a meeting of the syndicate to discuss it. We had a ballot, each had a vote to sell or keep and all five revealed keep! So we have all bought into the dream!”

Michael watched the Derby draw live on Monday morning and despite being drawn in a very tough heat 12, expressed delight with his trap 1 draw as Cahir Castle will seek the rails at the earliest opportunity in his races. With five to qualify, the syndicate hold strong claims of progressing to round 2 and we wish them the very best of luck throughout a first Derby campaign for all involved.

Cahir Castle has already delivered for his proud owners and represents a reward for many years hard work on Michael’s part while also giving hope to every new syndicate or future owner that anything is possible when first venturing into greyhound racing.

In closing I asked Michael what was so famous about the five lads. “Nothing really, it was just one of those pub conversations about old TV shows. You remember the Famous Five and they had a dog too?!” I then put it to him that they might find fame over the next six weeks at Shelbourne Park and Michael laughed, “I hope you’re right!”



K’s are here to stay with busy Brazilian

The greyhound racing fraternity is gratefully renowned for creating a welcoming environment for those who are embarking on their first ownership venture. There is no greater wish for these new participants than the hope that their first experiences will prove successful and possibly lead to an extended stay in our sport for these new owners.

As such, greyhound racing must thank thirteen time Kilkenny winner Brazilian Ditch (Ace Hi Rumble/Flomur Perla), for her wonderful career thus far has brought all the “craic” that the Five K’s Syndicate of Paulstown Co.Kilkenny had hoped to enjoy from their first racer and as a result, the future brood will keep her delighted owners at trackside, long into the future.

An initial conversation with Trevor Walsh revealed that the syndicate does in fact consist of just four members despite the name. “Well the Five K’s is simply that we’re all from Kilkenny and there was five to start with but one of the lads decided to drop out at the very start. It wasn’t out of lack of interest or anything but just a new child around the same time and sure he didn’t really need the extra distraction.

“There’s myself, cousins James & Brendan Hickey along with Brian Power who was responsible for the whole thing in the first place. We all live in the Paulstown area and know each other for years but Brian was the only one of us that had any involvement in greyhounds before.”

Directed by Trevor, the conversation then turned to Brian Power who explains, “I know the breeder Pat Murphy fairly well from having a few dogs before and he’s only beside us here in the town as well. He just said it to me in the pub one night about the litter and if I would be interested. Sure I put it to the boys then and that was that.

“Ah sure it hasn’t worked out too bad at all. We’re mad about her! She gives it her all every night she goes out and you couldn’t ask for anymore than that!”

Brazilian Ditch began her career with a smart 300 yard victory at Kilkenny, when credited with 16.58 which saw her in S3 company thereafter. A second victory over the sprint distance took some time to materialise but her career began to take a more defined and progressive path following her first 525 yard win in A5 grade.

Having passed two years of age, she scored the first of four sweepstakes victories when rising to A1 in a brilliant campaign to land the Golden Oldies A4 525 yard stake at her home track. Clearly maturing rapidly at this point, she coped with the upgrade to score victory in A1 before becoming a formidable A2 racer on the Kilkenny circuit for the bulk of her career.

Brazilian Ditch and the Five K's Syndicate following Droopys Stud A2 Stake Final victory at Kilkenny in April.

That career is now twenty months on the track and in that time Brazilian Ditch has been very busy. Gratefully staying injury free, she has raced 46 times, winning thirteen and being place in a trio position on 31 occasions.

Her consistency and steady progress is not lost on her owners who fully appreciate her endeavours. Exclaims Brian, “Ah sure you’d nearly bring her home to bed with you, we’re gone so fond of her at this stage. She’s a legend! You’d find it hard to get one as good again, especially for a syndicate with it’s first runner.

“We’ve had a right few sessions out of her sure. She’s been in four finals and won them all! She has a good strike rate overall anyway but you can’t argue with a hundred percent in finals, she knows when to win! We don’t be backing her or anything and we’re not in it for the money either but still it’s nice to get the prizes. She has paid her own way but between four of us it’s not expensive anyway and honestly, I can’t remember the last time we had to pay a bill.

“We’re lucky though with our trainer Brian Ellard. He was the only trainer that we knew very well from the local Boxing Club going back through the years but even at that, he was well recommended at the time and he has been great for us. He wouldn’t be hard on training fees and it’s fair to say she’s in the right place.

“She’s off at the moment with a small injury, the first one of her career really. She’s graded plenty high enough though for a comeback but Brian says it’s worth giving it a go and that’s good enough for us. She might have to come back and win another final though because we all got a trophy each from the four finals she won but James Hickey got a small bit drunk the night she won his one and he broke the tail off it. If she could manage to win a new one for him, that’d do!

“She won’t be 3 years old until April so she does have plenty of time but we intend breeding her and she owes us nothing so the pressure is off in that regard. She’ll be with Brian for breeding whatever way it goes and actually, the syndicate has already got her racing replacement lined up!

“We have a pup bought out of a litter that Brian bred. He’s about six months old so we’re all set up to keep the thing together. We’ve been lucky with the bitch and really we are only in this for the craic but when you get one as genuine as herself, it’s easy to get dragged in looking for more of the same.”

The Five K’s Syndicate have indeed been fortunate to find such success with their first racer but so too is greyhound racing lucky to have attracted new participants who now pledge to extend their presence in the sport. We wish the Paulstown four all the very best with Brazilian Ditch’s impending return to action and may find ourselves in conversation once again when her pups begin to create their own headlines which is a distinct possibility if they possess the same consistency and battling qualities of their entertaining dam.



Askeaton syndicate are having a Blasta with Rasta

Swelling the attendance figures on a regular Friday evening graded programme at Limerick Greyhound Stadium in early April, natives of Askeaton Co.Limerick arrived in force ahead of the opening race and it didn’t take long for those present to realise who was the recipient of such fervent support when cheers of encouragement began to ring through the stands during the opening N3 525 Yard race as Rastablasta began to mount his challenge at the closing bends which would ultimately bring a debut victory for an ecstatic Joes Army Syndicate.

This column has highlighted numberous successful stories among the many syndicates that have made greyhound ownership an exciting venture for both experienced racing folk as well as newcomers to the sport but when initiated by a young man that only turned 20 years of age this month, who himself has only a short history in greyhounds, it ranks as a truly laudable endeavour by an extremely popular Joe Sheahan.

Joe explains, “No none of my family were ever into the dogs but John Shaughnessy who has all the Bettyville dogs is a family friend and always had greyhounds of course, so I just started by going racing with him really at about the age of fourteen. I would go along with him for trials too, I was mad to see what it was all about and how he trained them. It wasn’t long then before I was hooked. Sure I’d be sitting inside in school and all I’d be thinking about was the trials coming up at the weekend or dreaming about winning a Derby or a Leger, as you do!

“I had my first dog with John then not too long after and that was Madame Emily, the mother of Rastablasta. She was a lovely bitch but she fractured her hock before she ever got to race and I tell you, I was devastated! I was questioning whether all these greyhounds were worth the effort at all. Ah but sure you get over that and realise it’s just bad luck. I was stone mad about her anyway and I decided I’d take a chance on breeding her.”

That litter produced five dogs and one bitch for racing, including Rastablasta and Joe decided to start the syndicate as his racing exploits had begun to draw some local interest, even if not all complimentary!

“In the mean time I had another dog called Samisla, trained by Denis O’Malley. We have a pub here in the town and the locals would be asking how he got on or if he got beat they would be giving me a right slagging but either way, it was creating an interest and in fairness there was a lot of good will. A few then would come along racing the odd night so when we had the litter of pups, I decided to try build on that and start the syndicate.

“There’s seven of us altogether and none of the other six were ever involved before. He has a bigger following than just the syndicate though. Sure we organised a bus for his first race but the bus got too full and we had to take cars to get everybody there. I don’t know how many of us there was, well over 40 anyway!”

Rastablasta contested his debut novice race from trap 4 and made only a moderate start at best. Negotiating his way to the inside rail, he contested second place at the opening bend but all hopes of victory appeared lost at the top of the back-straight when all of twelve lengths adrift of a smart early paced leader. The large supporting crew began to glean a little hope however approaching the third turn as their pride and joy made stealthy gains and the first of many loud encouraging cheers began to ring out at the final bend, continuing all the way to the line where Rastablasta registered a most game victory by two lengths in 30.30.

Describing proceedings Joe continues, “I was delighted the way he came from behind to win but I tell you, I was inside in the middle of the track and cursing my luck when he was so far behind early on. I’m thinking, I’m going to be ridiculed here! It was just great that the first race went that well. Sure I was at the pick up with my back to the dog, roaring over at the lads in the stand, I couldn’t believe he was after winning from where he was, great craic! It’s not often you can win a race in 30.30 so we were lucky enough but sure the boys had no clue, they thought they had a machine and at the time, I wasn’t telling them any different! We had a right night and back to the pub after, there must have been eighty people for the celebrations, twas mad!

“His second race was much the same kind of race but it was good to see him improving to 29.60. He’s still not doing good splits but he was closer at the bend this time and again stayed on very strongly. We had young Aidan Stokes with us that night, he’s only 10 years old and I gave him the lead to walk back in the dog to all the lads after winning. It was priceless for him, sure he’s inside in the school since and all he can talk about is the Rasta!

“He’ll have it tougher next time now in A5 but hopefully there is more improvement in him and I’d be fairly confident there is, especially with a step up in trip over time. The hardest part now is trying to warn the rest of the lads that it won’t be like this all the time but already they are having great craic out of it and that’s what the whole thing was for in the first place. One win would have done me, one good night out of him and I’d have been happy, so this is great!

“We’ll take it as it comes now and sure anything else he wins will be a bonus. It’s great for the sport too though, it needs these syndicates to give new people a chance to get into the sport for small money and learn what the whole thing is about. It brings a bit of life to the track too and I’m proud that we could achieve that with Rastablasta already. Everyone at the track is so helpful too, they all only want to see you doing well and are very approachable, they do a great job at Limerick. So I’d like to thank John, Liam, Gary and John for helping us along the way.

“Mostly though I’m grateful that the syndicate trust me and that they are all delighted they got involved in the first place, sure they’ll all go again now, they have the taste for it! We have plenty more too that are kicking themselves that they didn’t get involved and I think I’ll start another syndicate from Emily’s next litter. She’s in pup to Paradise Madison at the moment so hopefully all goes well and we’ll do it all again with one of those pups.”

With such a short history in the sport, Joe has already explored many aspects of racing and has taken on big responsibilities for one so inexperienced. Finding time for his dogs while also attending college at the University Of Limerick, his bravery and willing to take a chance has clearly already paid off with Rastablasta and with his litter as a whole which he admits, was a bit of a risk.

“Yeah I suppose it was taking a bit of a chance with an unraced bitch and a sire who was only really starting off but I have to thank Tom Fitzgerald who owns Ocean Crash, he is an absolute gentleman. Sure you couldn’t knock the dog either, he has some very decent runners already and anyone I’ve spoken to all say the same as we’ve seen, they are extremely genuine, chasing mad, I couldn’t recommend Ocean Crash highly enough. I’m delighted with the litter, they’re not breaking clocks yet but they’re young and you’d be very hopeful that they’ll keep climbing higher.”

Rastablasta is entered to race at Limerick again over the next couple of weeks with Joe keen to give him plenty of time to develop over this early part of his career. He will again draw a crowd to the track and Joe, along with all connected to the Joes Army Syndicate, must be praised and thanked for their enthusiastic participation so far. Talking with Joe, it is clear that he is proud of his achievement with this syndicate but you would not guess, unless told, that he has only been involved in the sport for a short number of years.

Learning from John Shaughnessy and Denis O’Malley along the way, who he thanks greatly, he has brought a youthful vigour that is essential to any sport but most significantly, has become an ambassador and promoter for greyhound racing in his own town of Askeaton which serves to benefit racing as a whole. Falling in love with racing in his mid-teens, Joe’s participation and aspirations are not limited to his own success and throughout the conversation he repeatedly refers to his venture as being good for the sport and selling greyhound racing to a new audience is as important for Joe as any race victory.

Our industry must follow Joe’s example and build on these perceived small successes, for when embraced and fostered, it is these forward thinking individuals that are, and will continue to ensure a healthy future for racing. We must continue to impress our sport on the the currently uninitiated for as Joe has proved, we have a product worth selling. We wish the Joes Army syndicate all the very best of luck and look forward to hearing those rousing cheers when he again hits the front on the home-straight at Limerick.

Leaving the last word to Joe, “Saturday is my highlight of the week, looking forward to going racing. The people in greyhounds are great people, all on the one level. It’s a great sport!”
The remaining syndicate members are Bernie O’Donnell , Mike Griffin, Kevin Sheahan, John Stokes, Michael Sheahan and Hughie O’Donnell who can all be found in the Top Of The Town Bar in Askeaton following Rastablasta’s next win!



Clodagh is only in it for the Craic

Enjoying the early stages in the career of four time race winner Kilbrien Clodagh (Knockglass Billy/Trixies Post), the Only In It For The Craic Syndicate embody all the sporting spirit that name would suggest in support of their latest in a line of trackers since first forming over a decade ago.

Responsible for initially forming the syndicate is Paul Fraher and he took a break from a busy lambing season on his farm in Kilbrien, just outside Dungarvan, to tell of the syndicates evolution and the pleasing career start of their newest recruit. He exclaims, “Well it’s exactly like it sounds from the name, we are only in it for the the craic!”

“We’re having a good bit of fun out of this one, like we have with them all. She was bought when she was young enough and she was called Balinakil Trixie but we changed the name. There is seven of us in the syndicate now and we’re all from around the Kilbrien area. Alan Walsh’s daughter is called Clodagh, so it was as simple as that.

“She won her first race at Clonmel but we moved her to Youghal shortly after. We just think it suits her perfectly and she has won 3 races there now. I actually thought she’d win again the last night but she got a nice bit of a bump, unfortunately. She’s going grand sure, she’s graded A5 there at the moment but she got up as far as A3 as a pup and she’s only just gone two years of age last month so we’ll have plenty more nights out with her.

“Sure that’s all we’re in it for really. Now we’d take a superstar if we got one but it’s only about the night’s out for us. She has her level now and she gives us something to talk about from race to race, either praising her for what she did right or giving out about what she did wrong, sure it’s great!

“There was originally four of us involved for the very first dog. He was Melleray Rock and myself and Sean Hickey are the two surviving members from that time. He won seven races for us and it was a great start for the syndicate but we tried training him ourselves and being honest, there was just too much work involved and we decided that the next one would be going to a trainer.

“So since that time then we would always have a dog on the go but they have been trained by Kevin McClean over in Clonmel. He has been very good to us and it’s all going well. He makes it easy on us and with seven in the syndicate now sure you’d hardly even notice the expense, it’s great value for the craic you get out of it and that’s the beauty of the whole thing really.

“We’d all try to get to the races if we can and over the years we have been at many tracks with the different dogs. There would very often be buses organised and we could have a right crew with us for the night. You’d always then have the few that would want to be involved in the next dog and I’d say we’ll probably be adding a couple more members for our next venture.

“Like I said, there is myself and Sean still going from the first dog but there is two new members in Kilbrien Clodagh, David McGrath and Paula Cotter. It keeps the whole thing fresh and they are as keen as any of us, I’d say they have hardly missed a race. But racing in Youghal is very suitable for a syndicate too because if it was a thing you couldn’t make it to the track, you could watch it in the bookies, but for the most part, we’d go anywhere!”

Kilbrien Clodagh will re-appear at Youghal in the very near future and her next victory should not be far away as A5 does look a winning mark for the March 2014 whelp. She possesses smart early pace for the grade which would come as no surprise given her breeding and she is in fact a member of the very first litter to be sired by 2012 Laurels champion Knockglass Billy who admirably saw two of his second litter contest the final of the recent Con & Annie Kirby Memorial at Limerick.

While certainly not lacking ambition with his racers, it is refreshing to hear Paul speak about Kilbrien Clodagh with complete acceptance of whatever level she manages to attain within the sport. Support from her enthusiastic owners is not dependent on victories or reaching the upper tiers of the grading table. It is as Paul explains, all about the craic, a bit of sport and more so, enjoyment among friends. Himself and Sean Hickey have carried this ethos through their ownership from their very first venture into greyhound racing and this syndicate are to be thanked for bringing this sporting attitude, that thankfully runs right throughout the sport.

The Only In It For The Craic Syndicate are another to lay down an ideal template that can be adopted by any prospective new owners. We praise their commitment and longevity and wish them the very best of luck with Kilbrien Clodagh and all of their future racing representatives who will be lucky to fall under their watchful care.

Also on IGB Ownership Webpage HERE and in this weeks Sporting Press


It’s Bean a good start for Trembling syndicate

Keeping friends together in support of a young and highly promising tracker, the Halfway Bar Syndicate are enjoying the successful career start of Trembling Bean (Romeo Recruit/Beanfield Parke) having seen the May 2014 dog register his fourth victory from just six career starts when leading throughout his latest A3 525 yard contest at Limerick Greyhound Stadium. However, celebrations in the wonderfully welcoming confines of the Clarecastle public house of the same name have been untypically muted from the highly sociable supporting entourage of late as John Keane declares that all four members are “on the dry for lent!”

“Ha yeah, the takings are down in the Halfway since shrove Tuesday alright. We haven’t been celebrating the last couple of wins like we usually would but sure we’ll break out and make up for it on Paddy’s Day!”

The syndicate consists of four members. John Keane, proprietor of the Halfway Bar Frank White, Paul Keating and Jim McHenry who all hail from Clarecastle. Declares John, “sure if I stood out on my own front lawn I could drop a handy wedge over to Jim’s house and if I took out the driver I could land it at the Halfway, passing Paul Keating’s house on it’s way, we’re that close!

“The syndicate has been going for a good few years now and started with a few trackers after I dragged Frankie in for his first time in the greyhounds. Tony Fahy had a dog for us that time who won a few races, as did Tom Flanagan who is training Trembling Bean now. There was a few coursing dogs in that time also but we returned to Tom Flanagan in Ennistymon to buy this fellow.
“He was about 17 months old when we bought him and fair play to Tom he gave us a choice even at that age. Sure between four of us, you have the costs spread and it’s very affordable really. He was going nowhere else anyway so Tom is training him and he’s nice dog. He’s plenty young enough yet too, he won’t be two until May, so he’s going well. In fairness to him, he hasn’t run a bad race yet. He has great early pace and it’s getting him away from any trouble so far thankfully.”

Trembling Bean began his career at Galway in the 12-runner WGOBA S4 350 Yard Stake when scoring final victory by seven lengths in 19.42(-15) last December. A first defeat followed in the same grade next time but undeterred, connections took the opportunity to race in A4 grade when switching to Limerick for his step up to 525 yards and he duly obliged for a smart 29.27 success. There was no disgrace when subsequently defeated by current Con & Annie Kirby hopeful Cons Rex before a highly impressive display on Friday last when accounting for A3 rivals in a very smart 28.88(+20).

“Ah he ran well the last night, it’s great to see him improving that little bit all the time and sure I suppose we have to be grateful for the fast rating on Friday, it keeps him out of A1 grade for now at least. We’re delighted with him, especially for Tom after breeding him and the rest of the litter look very promising for him too. Of all of us though it’s great for Jimmy because this is his second time in a syndicate and he had no luck with the first one. It’s a grand change to have four wins got already with this fellow and even the few boys he was involved with the last time, now want to know when he’s running again so they can book a night at the track.

“But sure that’s what you get when you have a syndicate, you’ll always have lots of people going along for the night out and always a bit of craic as a result. Ourselves, we’d be going quite a lot anyway and you could find the Keating’s inside at Limerick any night. Paul’s son Tom Keating is only in his late teens, a regular at the track and he’s breeding litters and selling pups, sure it’s great to see.

“Myself I’ve been in greyhound ownership going back to the 60’s but me and Frankie got involved about ten years ago and apart from the racing side of it at all, it has been good for the pub. It has always been a great house but now you go in, you wouldn’t know what doggy man you’d meet next and it has become a regular spot for many after the big greyhound events, sure he’s not a bad auld host either!”

Trembling Bean is likely to re-appear at Limerick in the very near future when attempting to continue his impressive career start but win or lose, he has already been successful in extending the syndicate ownership of four wonderfully personable members who participate in our sport in the friendliest manner. Their promising young tracker looks set to spark many celebrations at the Halfway Bar, when lent is over of course, and an opportunity to join them at the Clarecastle venue should not be passed up!


Abbeyfeale Ten can Ramble Inn-to Juvenile final

So often a birthplace for future champions of the track, the GMHD Insurances Juvenile Classic is a perennial early season highlight at the Kingdom Greyhound Stadium and is a highly coveted prize, especially by those who call the venue their home track. In 2016 one local syndicate in particular are fervently chasing the prestigious prize with their talented pup, Ramble Inn (Royal Impact/Gold Supreme).

The Ten Of Us Syndicate is based in Abbeyfeale with proprietor of the Ramble Inn, Philip Enright, at the helm for syndicate members who all frequent the popular greyhound steeped venue. Hailing from a hotbed of greyhound activity in both codes of the sport, it is no wonder then that all bar one of the members are involved in the sport in their own right but Philip describes the syndicate as a new venture for the group who are simply looking for “a bit of sport!”

Having been part of many syndicates in the past with coursing runners, Philip this time extended his syndicate reach to the track which was instigated following discussion with Tom & Pat O’Connor of Tarbert. “Well I’d had a chat with Tom about maybe forming a track syndicate for a decent dog, so you could say we were on the look out! This fellow was in the kennels already and was owned by Maurice Wallace in Glin. Fair play to him, he agreed to sell to us and we changed his name from Glin Gold, but he was staying with the O’Connor’s!

“He was around fifteen months at that time and promising, so we decided to hold him for the Juvenile Classic. Tralee is the local track for all of us so to have a runner in the Classic is a big deal. The syndicate are all either from North Kerry or West Limerick so we’ve all been at the track on the two nights so far.”
Ramble Inn opened his account in the event with an eye-catching performance in round 1 despite breaking poorly. Showing impressive back-straight pace he was short of clear racing room at the third bend when second to Live Annie in 28.50. He was again slow to stride in last week’s quarter final which led to a significant bump at the opening bends but he again used his smart pace to secure a qualifying third place behind Tammin Twister in 28.57.

Exclaims Philip, “at least he qualified again! If we could get him to break now, we’d be laughing. Ah no we’re very happy with him. He has shown pace in both runs and does look like a very promising pup. We’re delighted to be in the semi-final and if he could go down to the first bend without a bump he would have a good chance to make the final.

“Whatever he’s capable of, you can be sure Pat O’Connor will get it out of him. We have great confidence that he’s in the right kennel anyway, he’s a wonderful trainer and both him and his dad Tom are great people to deal with. We’ll be facing another runner from the kennels this week with Turree Bolt in trap 6 and we want wish all his connections the very best of luck. Like our fellow, he probably wants the inside too but hopefully they can both get a clear run and give their best.
“You could call me the instigator for a good few syndicates I suppose. We’ve had a few based from the pub in the past for Coursing. We had a comrade of Thomas The Tank who won the All Age at Lixnaw in 2013, Mission Approved, for a bunch of us named The Slow To Buy A Round Syndicate. Like many of our coursing dogs he was trained by the Thompson family with Jody of course who is the Racing Manager at Thurles Greyhound Stadium. All the coursing dogs would either be with himself or Gerry O’Sullivan.

“This syndicate then is like a new venture, being on the track and sure between ten of us, it’s not expensive at all really and the main thing we’re after is a bit of sport. I always enjoy the syndicates, they’re great craic and even better if can find a good one! All the lads know the sport well enough having been involved before and the only newcomer is Alan English. He’s an editor at the Limerick Leader so hopefully he can be making his own headlines soon enough! The pub is very much a greyhound pub and we sponsor the Oaks Trial Stake at the Abbeyfeale meeting and sure it’s a good base for the syndicates, which we always keep fairly local enough.”

Outside of his ownership exploits, Philip Enright has become a well known figure within in the greyhound community as the seven time All Ireland Singing Champion has accepted invitations to recite Amhran Na Bhfiann before finals at coursing meetings in recent years. First accepting the invitation at his home meeting in Abbeyfeale, he has also performed at the past two Irish Cup Meetings and expressed his immense pride at receiving the request to debut at the National Coursing Festival in Powerstown Park just a three weeks ago, where he delivered a powerful and moving rendition.

Ramble Inn will contest the opening semi-final of the Juvenile Classic this coming Friday from trap 3. An understandably tough heat, he clearly possesses the pace to at least reach the final but if improving on his thus far tardy starts, he could easily prove a match for any in the event. We wish the Ten Of Us Syndicate the very best of luck this week and with Ramble Inn’s future career. Philip has promised a rare old sing song at the Kingdom Greyhound Stadium should they manage to land the Juvenile Classic.


Who needs a Horse when you have Davy!

There can be many reasons for forming a greyhound racing syndicate and whether it be in search of a future superstar in the hope of financial rewards or to create an outlet for friends to enjoy exciting nights out together, the primary objective is and probably always should be to simply have fun in support of your aspiring race winner. That is without doubt the case for the Can’t Afford A Horse syndicate who have created priceless memories while laying down a blueprint for all future syndicates since first starting out with Pochie Of Aus (Premier County/Crockadee) in 2007.

Guiding a syndicate that is mostly comprised of members that had never previously been involved in the sport is Michael Collins who currently trains the syndicate runner Davy Of Ozz (Loyal Honcho/Pochie Of Aus) and in a most entertaining interview he tells how they are now preparing a third racer as the syndicate enters it’s ninth year of ownership.

“We started the syndicate for Pochie Of Aus and there was originally twelve of us to start with. There was lads I went to school or college with and mostly all from the Thurles or Holycross area, plus a couple of stragglers! We used to have the AGM in the pub but sure you couldn’t even call it that, it was more an excuse for a night out. Sure I even broke my leg at one of them so called meetings, so that will tell you!

“There was, and still is only three in the syndicate that were involved in greyhounds before, myself, my own dad Billy and Frank Dwan. To keep things simple at the start though we decided that we would get Pochie trained by Liam McCormack. We’d all have great time for Liam, a brilliant trainer and it would just be a better way to start so they lads would get to understand the small few expenses that pop up from time to time.

“Now she was named after Shane Finnan who was heading for Australia around that time and as it worked out, he was going to be gone before her first race. Well we couldn’t let him go without seeing her run so I organised a two dog trial at Thurles and himself and a few more came to watch. Well she won the trial but you’d want the hear the roars of the lads, it was embarrassing going to collect her and that mad crew cheering her across the line in an unrecorded trial!

“She won her second race for Liam then, a sprint. She was a very fast early pacer but struggling to stay the 525. It was decided that she’d go to the sales anyway and I was presenting her for the auction. She was only making €300 as an S3 pup so I said here, I’ll buy her myself! In terms of the syndicate, it was the best thing that ever happened because we had great sport with her after.

“She won eight races for us in all and we had some great nights. By this time she was with myself and Billy at home and we still argue over who’s the boss when it comes to training but with her early pace, we decided we’d chance the 400 yards in Mullingar. She actually won three races up there but this one night anyway we really fancied her. She was in trap 3 and the danger as we saw it was trap 4.

“The boys all made the journey of course but not without a few stops along the way. So a touch under the influence, David English had his, mine and John Lacey’s money to back the bitch. With all the talk and the worry about the dog in trap 4, poor auld Davy got confused and backed trap 4! Of course Pochie wins the race and I’m walking her out in front of the stand as you do in Mullingar, most of the boys celebrating but I see Davy with his jaw on the floor and realise what’s after happening. Now he’s usually a witty type of fella, he came up with the name for the syndicate but he wasn’t too witty that night!

“Pochie gave us great times at the track but we also ran her in duffers in the coursing. One of the lads is from Doon, George Allis and his home house is right across the road from the field. She was entered there but she was after winning a race on the track the night before so the lads were slightly hung over. Anyway, she won her first course and the semi-final was next up but nothing would do the lads only bring her across to the house. So there we are in the kitchen, the lads drinking whiskey and doting over the bitch when Billy comes bursting into the house in a panic. They were calling her for slips but sure none of us could here it. We made it on time but she didn’t get the flag although we thought she was up, but there was whiskey involved!

“When Pochie was retired then we bred a litter with her and the deal was that there would always be a pup for the syndicate. A dog this time and he was named after David English who was also heading for Australia. David is a good auld character and he was always great for keeping the syndicate together. He was well known as a hairdresser and while all the rest of the lads would be asking you about the dog before a race, is he in good form and that, Davy would be asking is he looking OK for photo?! He was actually the third so called treasurer of the syndicate to emigrate so we started to get suspicious about this and the fourth lad now had his passport confiscated, we considered him a flight risk!

“Davy Of Ozz has been just brilliant for us from the very start. He has won 13 races and actually won the Mackey Cup at Thurles in his career start going open class in the final. The litter was very decent overall with three runners reaching open and sure with Davy you would always have a chance with his early pace. We were actually offered €15,000 for him after that final but the prize money for the stake was €2000 and that was drank before we left the track that night. I’m not joking, the man in charge of the money was borrowing before he got home, sure what would we do if we sold him for that kind of money? we decided we better keep him!

“He’s coming near retirement now but he’s such a game dog. David English gave three years in Australia and when he got back we got the dog ready for a race, almost out of retirement and sure enough he went and won a sprint for us. But even when David was away, his family would be coming to watch the races and there could be eight of nine from my family so we would always have a big crowd with us.

“We could have 40 to 50 people at the track. There was several times people would arrive just because they knew our dog was running. You were certain of a bit of craic and sure it was different than the same old normal night out doing the same old thing every weekend and there was a good few of our crew that wouldn’t be shy about singing a song or two either!

“In fairness Davy Of Ozz in particular was very good for Thurles and we had plenty of late nights at the bar after a win. I’d say they’d have him racing every week if they could but Thurles were very good to us too. They always looked after us well and the locals endured the roaring and cheering in good spirit, even forgiving the lads who know nothing about the game when they ask something completely green like, Oh, what colour was your dog?!

“The next litter are just getting ready for their first trials and the syndicate dog this time is called Tepe Of Ozz (Forest Master/Pochie Of Aus) after TP O’Meara. He’s our local historian here, a great man to tell a story and if he doesn’t know it he’ll make it up! The plan will be that this lad starts off in Thurles too and he’s coming at the perfect time, just as Davy Of Ozz retires so it keeps things moving along nicely. Hopefully he can give us some more good nights and the plan after him will be to have a bitch from the next litter so that hopefully she can go on to breed, keeping the syndicate going even further again.

“We’re up to 14 members now at this stage. We lost a few along the way but gained a few more and it’s as enthusiastic as ever. The Witch Way Inn in Holycross is our venue for the syndicate meetings. There is a picture and a Sporting Press article for Pochie framed on the wall. Davy Of Ozz will go up there now too and you can tell them all at the Sporting Press that there will be an extra 30 or 40 copies sold in Thurles this week.”

A wonderful success story, the Can’t Afford A Horse syndicate have embraced every aspect of ownership and the entertainment factor that greyhound racing has to offer while taking the opportunity to keep friends, and families of friends, together even with members residing outside the country. From their first greyhound, they have shown that for a small financial outlay you can carry your syndicate forward from one runner to the next, creating memories that will last a lifetime. We wish Davy Of Ozz a happy retirement and Tepe Of Ozz a safe and prosperous racing career while thanking this lively, noisy, loud but brilliantly entertaining syndicate for all the fun that they have brought to the track.

**For IGB Ownership Webpage at


Galway Side are Up To No Good!

Outside of being lucky enough to win a classic with your first venture into greyhound racing, there can hardly be a greater reward when forming a syndicate than embarking on an exciting new adventure that will strengthen the bonds of long term friendships in support of your new aspiring race winner. Such is the case for the Up To No Good Syndicate of Galway who recently witnessed their Upourside (Royal Impact/Sandals Oz) score his first race victory on home ground, on his debut appearance!

At the helm for the syndicate of four members is well known figure within the sport, Peter O’Reilly who guides his friends and newcomers to the sport through Upoursides early career. Excepting Limerick man Stephen Gleeson, all are from Galway City with Mossy Bourke and Keith Badger credited with the initial idea to form the syndicate.

Keith explains, “Stephen is a college friend of Peter’s so that’s how we got to know him but the rest of us practically grew up together. Sure myself and Peter are the same age, we were born within hours of each other actually! We know each other since we were children and played on football and soccer teams against each other all along, as did Mossy. But sure you make great friends through sport and I suppose this syndicate is like an extension of that.

“That’s where we got the name from too. With the sports teams we would always be roaring, up our side! But it was my father that prompted the name for the syndicate. He came across us one night in the city when we were heading out for a night on the town, took one look at us and says, yer up to no good anyway!

“So we obviously knew all about Peter and the greyhound racing, so myself and Mossy got the notion of buying a dog over a pint one night and said it to him. He said I’ll get ye one if yer serious, I’ll actually have one coming up soon enough.”
UPOURSIDE with Vinny Bourke, Keith Badger & Eric O'Flaherty

The “one” Peter had coming was in fact a pup that he bred himself having leased the dam Sandals Oz for a mating to Royal Impact. Recognised at venues across both codes of Greyhound Racing, Peter has often been seen putting his money where his mouth is when standing as a bookmaker at many Coursing meetings and currently intends to stand again at the Clonmel festival in late January.

Thoroughly immersed in the sport he also offers a rearing facility for young greyhounds in preparation for a racing career, from which Upourside has clearly benefited greatly on the evidence of his debut success. Peter’s most recent kennel star will have caught the attention of all regular race followers as Sausalito May, owned by wife Roisin, was among the fastest race bitches of her generation with a blistering 28.14 at Tralee on her card before contesting the 2014 Irish Oaks where she was extremely unlucky to be eliminated from round 3 when well fancied in the outright market. She is currently in preparation for her first mating engagement which is likely to be with Scolari Me Daddy or Tyrur Big Mike and her pups are certain to be in huge demand.

Delighted to be involved in ownership with close friends, Peter understands the onus that is on those more established within the sport to actively and continually strive to extend the reach of Greyhound Racing to a wider audience which has been achieved with the Up To No Good Syndicate. He does however confess to being absent for Upourside’s first race when trainer Martin Fahy delivered the first success for the new owners.

Keith Badger explains, “Yeah Peter couldn’t make it to the track for the race but the rest of us were there, Mossy even drove the whole way from Dublin to get there! I was on the phone to tell him how the race was going and the first thing out of my mouth was, ah jesus he missed the break! Thankfully he ran brilliant after that and got to the front just in time on the home-straight. Sure it was like winning the Grand National for us, we were over the moon. The whole town had the news in no time and they all waiting for us to buy a drink like we won something massive!

“I know we’re only starting but it’s great craic and the dog is a real talking point during the week. It’s not at all expensive either for what you get out of it. The dream would have been to own a race horse but that’s just not affordable and I reckon you get better craic out of the dogs anyway. We would always have known people that were into the dogs so it wasn’t completely strange to us and would have been to the track over the years with work nights out or club fundraisers and the like.

“I remember one night in particular I was in Galway as part of the Fire Department summer barbecue and wouldn’t you know it, the fire alarm went off. Well they evacuated the whole track and there we were left, twelve firemen still standing at the bar, didn’t budge. Sure we knew there was no fire!

Claiming victory over Galway’s 350 yard trip in an S5 event on debut, Upourside displayed strong pace to recover from a slow start when posting 19.29 in a one and half length verdict. At two years of age, Keith acknowledges that there was an early setback in his training that delayed his first race appearance but also admits that it was well worth the wait!

Leaving a strong impression that he could improve greatly for this outing, he then contested the first round heats of the WGOBA S4 350 yard stake on Thursday last and confirmed the promise shown when again finishing very strongly to remain unbeaten. Despite recording an identical calculated time of 19.39(-10), the win did represent further progress for if Keith thought he was slowly away the first night, he was even slower to exit trap 6 on this occasion. Showing pace beyond the S4 grade he recovered lost ground to overhaul the leader on the run to the line and stretched impressively clear for a one and a half length success.

Speaking with Peter O’Reilly in the aftermath he exclaims, “Oh he has a bit of pace alright. The sprint stake is just perfect for him to start off with and get him ready for the step up to 525 yards. I’m just getting worried now these boys are going to think this winning craic is easy!”

The second round of this Galway sprint stake will go ahead this coming Thursday 17th of December when all four syndicate members will be present and hoping for a better break from Upourside for in doing so, he would surely put himself in prime position to deliver an early Christmas present for his delighted owners. We wish all involved the very best of luck.


Wafflers, Aspiring to cause more headaches at Mullingar

Rekindling a syndicate that had previously existed over seven years ago, De Wafflers Syndicate of Summerhill in Co.Meath have been enjoying the exploits of their seven time race winner Aspiring (Ballymac Tipp/Ballymac Ethine). However, while always receiving a warm welcome on race nights they have been accused of causing more than the odd headache at one venue in particular!

Head of syndicate affairs for eleven members, David McNally tells the story of how Aspiring has given the friends some great nights out and funded many more. “Ah we’re having some craic out of him and he has more than paid his way, he has cost us nothing. He’s a great little yoke!

We had a syndicate back about seven or eight years ago and he was a good dog, he won a race for us but nothing ever went right for him really. He was very unlucky with injuries and that. There was six of us involved in that syndicate and there is three of those in this fellow, myself, my brother Bob and the legend Albie Larkin!

Pat Quinn handing over Aspiring to De Wafflers
We’re all from Summerhill bar one lad from Wexford but we all drink in the same pub, as does Pat Quinn who bred the dog so it was from knowing Pat that we bought him. He’s very good to us. He’s not in the syndicate but he might as well be, you could call him our advisor!

Pat already had the dog named when we bought him so that was good enough for us but he has been called “Aspirin” by some of the regulars at Mullingar because they reckon you’d need medication for the headaches when he’s running, we’re making that much noise!

Trained by James allen, Aspiring began his career with six defeats but undeterred, his enthusiastic owners were very proud when he then gained his first win at Harolds Cross in an A5 525 yard event. A switch to Mullingar soon after then brought his best run of form when winning four of five starts including a hat-trick which added greatly to the syndicate kitty.

“We had some craic when he won the three in a row. We fancied him the first night and backed him at something like 7/2 and we could hardly believe it then when he was 3/1 the next time, so we made a few quid again! We got some buzz out of that. He won four out of five at the time and was unlucky enough not to win again the next night but that put money in the kitty and they way we work it then, we organise a day out with the winnings.

There is a few of us that are into motor sports and one of our days out was for go-kart racing. It’s great to be able to do things like that and you’re not just getting everyone together for racing, you’re getting loads more out it. He won his last race too and the winnings from that will go towards another day out so he’s not just paying his own way, he’s funding plenty more.

James Allen with Aspiring at Mullingar
With both breeder and trainer also living in Summerhill, David describes the venture as a real local effort and persistently heaps praise on both Paddy Quinn and trainer James Allen who he claims has, “the midas touch”.

“I can’t get it across enough how good the lads have been to us. James is just class with the dog, he has been there from the very start when he even came to pick out the dog with us. I know he’s a grader and he can’t win every race but when he does have a chance, James has him spot on, he never puts us wrong! You just know that he’s always doing his best for everyone. We reached the final of a stake on the Sunday meeting for the Cesarewitch final this year and the dog had a bit of a problem after the semi-final but James nursed him to get to the final that he could take his place without doing any harm. He knew it would be great for a syndicate like us to have a runner on the big day. He didn’t win but that was a great day at the track and even without winning, I still say James has the midas touch!

He’s been in a couple of finals but hasn’t won one yet. We’d be aiming to win one I suppose, it would be great to have a presentation photo for him and it would fill up the kitty as well! Still though, the dog has paid his way and when you look at the costs between eleven of us, sure it’s peanuts really for all the craic you get out of it. Paddy has another litter of pups out of Ballymac Ethine at the moment by Ballymac Vic. They are young yet and I reckon we’ll be doing it all over again with one of them but we still have plenty more time left with Aspiring.

He’ll only be 3 years old in Januray, he has settled well in Mullingar and has his grade now really. He won his A3 race the last night from trap 1 and we wouldn’t even be convinced that he really wants to be on the rails but if he’s any way close at the last bends he’s away in a hack, he runs them very well. Hopefully we can get some more wins out of him but whatever comes, so be it. We know we’ve done well and some syndicates could be lucky to get a winner at all, he’s our little local legend!”

Asked about the syndicate name David laughs and explains, “well we called the first meeting of the syndicate to discuss matters, one being the naming. It just so happened that one of the lads was tucking into a bag of Wafflers crisps and that’s what stuck! Although I have to admit that it does work on a few levels, we are all well able to waffle on a bit when we want to!”

Expected to feature on the race card at Mullingar this coming weekend, Aspiring will again compete in A3 grade and is certain to hold strong claims given that he has reached A2 at the circuit in a previous win. Never short of support, attending patrons may do well to pack some “aspirin” ahead of the inevitable cheering from De Wafflers or better still, maybe join the enthusiastic supporters who can hopefully roar him home to an eight career victory. We wish David and all the Summerhill Wafflers all the very best with Aspiring and in their future greyhound racing ventures.

Also in this week's Sporting Press and on IGB Ownership webpage HERE


Na Fianna can take a Flyer in County Final

A young and extremely promising Jackies Flyer (Iso Octane/Highview Baby) scored his seventh career victory at Shelbourne Park on Saturday last when completing a hat-trick of wins and continues to show his owners, the Na Fianna Syndicate of Enfield Co.Meath a winner’s mentality and steely determination that will be needed on Bank Holiday Monday when Na Fianna bid for Meath County Football Final glory against Navan O’Mahony’s.

The 20 strong syndicate off owners was formed from the current senior football panel at the club when an existing relationship between the talented sportsman Barry Clancy and greyhound trainer Vincent Leavy sparked interest at the club and led to the purchase of Jackies Flyer. Current PRO for the Mullingar Owners & Trainers Committee and fervent Na Fianna supporter, Vincent tells the story of success for both club and hound.

“Myself and Barry Clancy had dogs together before so the lads on the team, knowing this asked Barry how they would go about getting a greyhound, and so the syndicate formed. Having had dealings with Paddy Merriman before, we decided that he was our only man to go to. This was a great chance to have a good syndicate with a good dog and we wanted to give ourselves every chance, and with the Merriman’s you would certainly get that!

Jackies Flyer visiting his Na Fianna owners at training.
We didn’t even pick the dog, Paddy picked him himself. He knew we were after a Shelbourne dog and fair play, that’s what he got us. It’s always a pleasure to visit with Paddy. He is the most honest and straight forward man you will ever meet and there is always a good welcome for you. The dog stayed in Rhode to be trained by Gerry Merriman and he couldn’t be in a better place, those people work so hard.

While we were there buying the dog I also asked Paddy if he had anything for myself that could run at Shelbourne and be there with the lads dog. I came away with a bitch, Innfield Sparky. She has won five races for me but wouldn’t you know it, Jackies Flyer beat her into second in an A1 race a few weeks back!

In my role at Mullingar you would always be looking to promote the sport and with this syndicate being so close to home, I was anxious that it would go well. You can’t guarantee that, but I think we gave ourselves every chance. If the first dog didn’t turn out to be a winner, you could understandably see interest fall off slightly but there is definitely no hope of that with Jackies Flyer, they boys are mad for it!

The dog was only a reserve for last Saturday but he got the call up and the team were immediately calculating what time they’d finish training and make it to Shelbourne Park in time for the race. It has sparked great interest within the club and beyond. There is a big crossover between GAA and greyhounds and it’s brilliant that this syndicate has worked out to be another good venture between the two.

Out of the twenty in the syndicate, there is 16 or 17 from the current panel. Barry looks after affairs and does all the dealing with Gerry. He’s a big player on the team and actually came back to GAA after a soccer career where he played for Athlone Town and Shelbourne. I won’t go through them all but there is three Queenie brothers who are an integral part of the team also with Jamie on the Meath panel along with Dalton McDonagh and goalkeeper Shane Geraghty would be another very important one.

They are going great. They had a great semi-final win over Kells, 1-14 to 0-12 but the Navan boys won’t be simple in the final. They are always tough to beat and of course you have greyhound men on that team too with sons of Johnny Bray, nephews of Ollie!"

Jackies Flyer began his career back in April and has raced solely at Shelbourne Park in an effort to suit all concerned. However, the venue has suited Jackie most of all since attaining A3 grade when successful on debut. Beating Urban Gossip in an A5 semi-final on that occasion, there was no disgrace then in his final third when behind that same bitch and her sister Samiya. Knowing what do now of this illustrious pair, it is little wonder that Jackies Flyer was able to cope with his rise to open class by landing his first two AA0 events over the past weeks.

Claiming both an A2 final and an A1 stake final in his march to open class racing, Jackie has provided the Na Fianna Syndicate with some jubilant night’s at the track and being just an August 2013 whelp, retains scope for further improvement under the guidance of Gerry Merriman.

For now however, his run of form that has brought three smart victories on the bounce seems almost a direct message from hound to loyal owners that now is the time to turn up the heat on their respective sporting aspirations. As if sensing that this is an hour of need, Jackie is holding up his end of the bargain. Retuning game winning performances like that of his 28.67 effort on Saturday and leading the club by example into their biggest battle of the season.

Momentum in sport is a powerful force and while not on the pitch, Jackie clearly has Na Fianna in a winning mindset ahead of Monday’s County Final. We wish both teams the very best of luck come throw in and while not in the habit of tipping GAA matches, having a 16th player like Jackie on your side must tip the balance in Na Fianna’s favour!

Also available in this week's Sporting Press and on IGB Ownership Webpage HERE


Derby Venture in Doubt while Apostles follow the lead

For those lucky owners with a greyhound good enough to the contest the Irish Greyhound Derby, that first journey to Shelbourne Park for the opening round is filled with excitement and anticipation of what glory might lie ahead. However, for the Twelve Doubtful Apostles syndicate, their Doubtful Venture appeared aptly named as he could briefly be seen walking just yards from his destination, by himself!

Having got the scare of a lifetime, Matty Byrne of Royal Oak near Bagenalstowns Co.Carlow explains the calamitous antics that threw Doubtful Venture’s Derby participation into serious doubt while speaking from behind the counter of his Royal Oak Bar.

Doubtful Venture after Stake victory at Kilkenny
“We can look back and laugh at it now but it wasn’t funny at the time. What it was is that we just didn’t set off for Dublin in good time and when we got there the traffic was mad. I was driving and had Johnny Shaw along with our trainer Brian Ellard. We were late and it was getting near weigh-in time. We even got a call from the track to know where we were. That only made us more anxious and with the pressure on Brian got out of the van and started running down the road with the dog.

Now at this stage I might not have obeyed all the rules of the road but managed to catch up with him and said get back in, we’ll make it! So Brian was getting into the back of the van but in all the rush didn’t I floor it too soon with the door still open and he fell out. When he did he lost hold of the dog and I’m sitting in the drivers seat watching the dog go strolling past me.

So in a panic, I jump out and try catch him which I just about managed but not before some choice words for all the rickshaw cyclists that were getting in my way and the groups of Dublin locals who were shouting, Hey lads…..I think Shelbourne Park is that way! Only to get back with the dog and have Johnny in my ear calling the pair of us right eejits! Ah sure, we just weren’t used to going to Shelbourne Park! We’ll never live this one down though. I still have people coming into the pub asking me if that story is true.”

Having just made the weigh-in on time, Doubtful Venture proceeded to run a cracker in his first round heat when just caught on the run to the line by Uncle Paul in a thrilling race. Defeat on the night was quite irrevelevant for the Twelve Doubtful Apostles however who were overjoyed to have qualified for round 2.

“It would have been nice to win a heat but we really didn’t care. We were delighted with him and celebreated like he had won the Derby itself. We were shouting and roaring for about an hour after the race. Paul Hennessy even asked me at one stage, are you alright there Matty?

We had bought him from Paul at around 14 months so he was delighted for us and it was great to hear Kevin Hennessy admitting on the IGB video highlights that he was shouting for his neighbours to hold on for victory. Sure isn’t that why you have dogs, to go to these places? He got knocked out in the next round with a bit of crowding but ran great in the Plate and I think he would have had a good chance to make the final but we unfortunately had to withdraw him with a minor cough so missed his opportunity to race on final night. He’s over that now though and is entered to race again.”

Despite the syndicate name, there wasn’t any members who were particularly doubtful about participation in this venture and Matty confirms that most if not all were involved in greyhounds before, some for a number of years. “No, the names went into a hat and whoever came out would name the dog so Jimmy Morrisey christened him after a horse of the same name that his Dad Eddie once owned and I was drawn to name the syndicate.

He went straight to Brian Ellard when we bought him and he has been very good to us and sure he’s only a stone’s throw from the pub here so it’s all very local. Thankfully he has stayed sound and he was kept fairly busy but he improved greatly over the summer and did a great run in his last race at Kilkenny before he went to Shelbourne. Sure all we can hope is that he keeps improving.”

Speaking with Matty it is abundantly clear that he is very passionate about the sport and was at the time recovering from a lively night at Kilkenny track where he can be seen most every Friday. Should Doubtful Venture continue his winning ways, he is certain to appear on the walls of the Royal Oak Bar along side pictures and presentation sheets from past local successes.

“Yeah we have plenty of greyhounds on the walls here and aswel as being a base for the syndicate it is a strong racing house. We hook the computer up to the telly and show the racing from Shelbourne Park every Saturday night too. We’ll organise a night out for the syndicate shortly now also, fill a bus and get everyone going.”

Talking to Matty, one would be left in no doubt that he is a persistent promoter of the sport and the Royal Oak Bar should not be passed by any self respecting greyhound enthusiast as a warm welcome is guaranteed.

“Some people still don’t realise how much craic the dogs is. It’s not dear in comparison to so many other nights out and it’s for all ages. I recently took my own Mam Una, who’s 76, to Shelbourne Park and she absolutely loved it. Now you might want to make sure and get yourself a seat on a busy night but with the standard of restaurant and facilities these days, it’s all there for you.”

“From a pubs point of view it’s great business to have the doggy people coming in or be a base for syndicates. It gives you a great opportunity to organise night’s out and socialise together for very affordable prices. This current syndicate will stay together for another while yet. Any of the dog’s winnings stay in the kitty so that will pay for the night out and all going well there will be enough to buy the next dog, which we have every intention of doing and will return to Paul Hennessy when that time comes, he has been very good to us!”

Doubtful Venture may return to action as soon as this coming weekend with possible entries at Shelbourne Park or Kilkenny. So regulars can be advised that should they see a black greyhound loitering on the streets outside either venue, just open a gate, he probably knows his own way to the weigh room at this stage. However, with jokes aside, we wish all connections the very best of luck with Doubtful Venture. A rising star of the sport who has now reached AA0 with his latest Derby Plate heat second, he is sure to give the Twelve Doubtful Apostles many more exciting nights at the track and his successor will have much to live up to.

Also in this week's Sporting Press & on IGB Ownership Webpage HERE


Plenty of life after the Derby for King Henry

In profiling syndicates thus far this column has found many people in their greyhound ownership infancy, embarking on a new venture with friends or colleagues to enjoy nights out at the track while educating themselves about the sport with each new experience. However, syndicate ownership can prove just as exciting for those who have already had a successful history in the sport, especially when bringing family and friends together as it has done for the Ashville Syndicate with their supremely talented Ballyhooly Henry (Tyrur Big Mike/Lemon Soul).

The syndicate consists of four members and James Dowling of Ballyhooly in Co.Cork explains, 

there is myself and my wife Rose, my son Joe along with our local publican Finbarr Grindle. We’ve all had plenty of dogs down the years running with the Ballyhooly prefix but this is the first one we actually had trained outside of the kennels. It’s not that we thought we had a world beater or anything but we are almost retired at this stage and our trainer Tom O’Neill is only four miles down the road so the dog is practically at home.”

Ballyhooly Henry following Derby TS victory at Clonmel
For many new syndicates, sourcing their first race dog can be a daunting task but there was no such problems for the Ashville Syndicate as James reveals that wife Rose is a sister to Denis Lennon of the famous Lemon kennels in Threecastles and can attribute his greyhound interest to her.

 “It’s fair to say that Rose was reared with greyhounds all her life and of course plenty of good ones. We weren’t married very long before we started with a few dogs in Ballyhooly and we are at it since but when we were going looking for a pup this time, it was fairly straightforward that we would go back to Kilkenny.

I remember going to pick him up last year, he was 14 months old and when Dinny tells you he was untrialed you can take that as guaranteed. It was a week before the All-Ireland Hurling Final and both myself and Rose are Kilkenny natives. Someone asked what is his pet name and I laughed saying, there’s no pet names here with so many dogs around but if we win the hurling his name will be King Henry!

The word from Tom O’Neill was quite good early on then and it was proved correct when he won a novice stake at Cork to start off. He went open in his next run which was in February so it was a natural decision to have a go at the Con & Annie Kirby at Limerick. He won a nice open race before the competition and went as far as the third round but we weren’t convinced that Limerick completely suited him, especially at 525 with the shorter run to the bend, even though he ran plenty well enough.

Tom always thought he would be suited by Shelbourne and that hasn’t changed since he got knocked out of the Derby. It was great that he managed to win his first heat but his run behind Ballymac Matt in the second round was a cracker in fairness. We were thrilled with the run and he shortened right up in the market after that. It would have been great to get a bit further but he got some crowding in the third round and missed out by a length, still you have to be happy that he was up to that level being that he is only a May 2013 whelp.

Extremely knowledgeable and a student of form, our conversation proceeded by dissecting the Derby semi-final action and the likely outcome of the final itself where James is hoping to have Ballyhooly Henry feature on the undercard.

We travelled in force to Shelbourne with a good supporting crew and we’ll back again this week. The syndicate’s are a great way of getting people involved, they bring more to the tracks and it’s nice to have plenty of support. He will be entered to run this week anyway and hopefully at 600 yards. We see his future being mainly over the extended trips. He can be a smart trapper but doesn’t have huge early pace in fairness but he’ll stay all day for you. We’ll probably be looking out for 600 yard stakes in the immediate future but at his age we wouldn’t rule much out and either way we have an exciting dog for next year, with fingers crossed that he stays sound.

Proprietor of one Ireland’s oldest pubs, Finbarr Grindle is no stranger to limelight with some famous regulars and the premises often featured in media publications as a must visit! His support of greyhound racing was also recognised in 2011 as the Youghal Track Supporters Club bestowed on him an Honorary Supporters Award. The pub is a base for the Ashville Syndicate despite James joking that Tom O’Neill doesn’t even drink!

Apart from being family, the syndicate are all friends, we are enjoying the whole experience and it’s going to stay together because despite a few enquiries, the dog is not for sale.” Laughing, James explains that “we had a few calls but you couldn’t say that I actually got an offer because I put a ridiculously high price on him. If they were willing pay it so be it but it’s probably more accurate to say that he wasn’t really for sale.

Ballyhooly Henry returned to Curraheen Park following his elimination from the Derby and confirmed his current well being with a brilliant 29.64 victory in a AA0 550 yard event on Saturday of last week. His return to Shelbourne Park this week will add more spice to our feature night of the year and we wish all connections the very best with an immensely talented tracker who surely has a big future ahead. 


Askeaton Quartet adore a good Foxtrot

Many race hardened greyhound folk can watch their respective charges compete with relative calm as they cast an analytical eye over race proceedings, ready to assess the impending result with little obvious excitement or woe. For others, yours truly included, it can often be an opportunity to utter some vocal support, wearing your heart on your sleeve with adrenalin fuelled enthusiasm as your pride and joy takes to battle. The latter scenario has certainly been the case for the Limetree Quartet Syndicate of Askeaton who have supported their wonderful Ballyana Foxtrot (Express Ego/Moneygall Larky) with almost unrivalled enthusiasm throughout his sparkling career at the very top level of greyhound racing.

Having borne witness to this support on many occasions, it was with much anticipation that I prepared to speak with syndicate member Aileen Fitzsimons to learn of their experience and to highlight a brilliant career which saw Ballyana Foxtrot maintain an immensely high level of performance over an extended period in what must be lauded as a masterful training display by James Roche.

Brimming with pride, Aileen tells of four syndicate owners, never previously involved in racing who have now taken the sport into their hearts but throughout the conversation it is clear that this is all due the “The Fox” who they simply adore!

She explains, “the whole thing started over a few sociables for my nephew’s christening. It was my brother-in-law Mike McDermott who just asked if we would be interested and it gathered momentum from there. We agreed that we would keep it to just family at that stage and I sent out a text to see who would be interested. It read something like, we might end up with a dud or we might find the greyhound equivalent of Istabraq! Sure all I got back was, what do ye know about greyhounds?....Good luck to ye!”

"The Fox"

Undeterred by these responses, the syndicate of four did form over the course of the following six weeks when Aileen’s Mam Eileen joined sister-in-law Alma O’Malley and Mike McDermott to seek out a pup for racing.

“The closest link we had to greyhounds at this point was Alma’s Dad Aidan O’Malley who was involved with greyhounds for a long time so when he was sure we were serious he said he had his eye on a litter. He found the dog for us and actually bought a sister himself which he later sold. He then got the dog ready for racing and knew very early that we might have a good one on our hands. He was narrowly beaten in his first race at Limerick but that didn’t knock anyone’s faith in him and fair play to Aidan he said we should find a trainer for him now.

He joined James Roche at that stage and got his first win shortly after. He just kept improving from then on and we had some great nights at Limerick cheering him home. He won the Derby qualifier there in July of 2013 and it is something that we are very proud of that he was able to go on and win three Derby qualifiers in a row at Limerick which has been a home track for him.

The Derby experience was something else altogether. James and Aidan were trying to get it across to us how lucky we were to even be there. They never had a runner at Shelbourne and were explaining that this doesn’t just happen because you buy a greyhound. We enjoyed it so much and are so proud that he was able to reach two Derby quarter-finals and being the fastest winner of the entire competition in 2014 is a great achievement for him to have.
He won a race on Derby final night in 2013 and there is no explaining the thrill that it gave us. The buzz on the night was phenomenal and you’re looking around at all the style, the connections all wearing the colours for whatever trap they were in. It brought it home how delighted we were to have our dog and if there had been any doubt about the whole thing, it would have been well and truly buried that night!

Ballyana Foxtrot following his third Irish Derby Trial Stake win at Limerick
So you can imagine then what we were like in Limerick last November when he was getting ready to take his place in the Leger final. We were the ones wearing the colours this time and people coming up to us all night wishing us the best of luck or asking are you the owner of Ballyana Foxtrot? I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like the nerves of that race and fair play to him he was a great runner-up, just a couple of lengths would have done it but we were still so proud.

Thankfully that year he had won the Golden Muzzle at Limerick. I know you have to go and win them but he kind of deserved a big stake win. It felt like an acknowledgement for the career that was already behind him and we celebrated it in style both at the track and back in Pauline’s Bar in Croagh where we had more than the odd session after winning a race!

Ballyana Foxtrot, like many tech savvy greyhounds in the modern age also has his own Twitter account which Aileen confesses to operating on his behalf when too busy training to manage himself. Followers will have learned of race entries and breaking news of his career through this medium and it may be where you can first hear of his next career move.

Aileen laughs, “the Twitter account is quiet this week since he got knocked out of the Plate but it has gotten great comments all along, from all over! There would be people wishing him luck and throughout his career there was always messages asking if he was for sale, which he always turned down!”

This refusal to sell was cemented from the very formation of the syndicate and despite Ballyana Foxtrot earning just shy of €24,000 in prize money thus far, Aileen explains that the venture was never about money.

“He cost €2000 as a pup so it’s fair to say that we got a few bob out of him but this was never about money. We even said that at the start, whatever we spent was just written off as gone and we were doing this for the craic and the nights out. It’s not that we’re all loaded or anything but that was the way it was.

Limetree Syndicate and friends following 2014 Golden Muzzle victory
We will go again and buy a new pup but we’re not quite at that stage yet because we have such a gra for Foxtrot. We have enjoyed every minute of it all. It’s gas to think that we were complete novices just a short while ago and he has now got us so passionate about the whole thing.”

Having turned four years of age last month, no decision has been made as to his next career move but a recent race at Limerick did carry the sponsorship name “Ballyana Foxtrot at Stud” so he will be available to breeders and is certain to prove popular. Follow his Twitter account for any announcements in regards to this and his successor who will have a job on his his hands to surpass “The Fox” in the affections of the Limetree Quartet Syndicate.

He will however be assured of huge support from a legion of converted greyhound goers who have added greatly to the atmosphere and noise levels at many venues. We thank both owners and hound for the entertainment they have provided thus far and look forward to their future exploits in greyhound racing with much anticipation.

Also available in this week's Sporting Press and on IGB Ownership webpage HERE


Donoghmore Girl scores Derby heat win, by candlelight!

When first undertaking to purchase a racing greyhound most in the sport, if not all, will for at least a brief moment entertain the dream of Derby glory. For all bar a lucky few that dream will never materialise and while the Donaghmore Syndicate of Co.Meath harbour only outside hopes in this year’s event, their Kina Girl (Ace Hi Rumble/Droopys Kina) has surpassed her owners racing aspirations by delivering a Derby heat win on Thursday last in thrilling fashion.

Kina Girl pictured after an early career 600 yard victory at Thurles
Looking after affairs for ten group members is Declan Mulvey who interrupted a week long trip in Rome to express his delight at owning a Derby heat winner. “We are on a high,” he exclaims. “We never thought that she could even be a Saturday night dog at Shelbourne Park but she has just kept improving all the time. She has never run a bad race for us.

The syndicate has been going for around ten years but we didn’t always have a race dog. Before Kina Girl I had a lad I was keeping as a pet but he sadly passed away and so I decided I’d try get going with a racer again. We had some luck in the past with a dog called Donoghmore Jo who won a good few races for us and even a €4000 final at Newbridge. He reached A1 grade which was great and that was as much as we would hope for really with the next one.

Around half of the members would be involved with Donoghmore Ashbourne GAA club and the rest was initially made up of friends of friends who have all become closer through the syndicate at this stage. One of the members is jockey Andrew Lynch and I think all of us have actually been involved in horse ownership but in all honesty that is just a bit too expensive.

It was through Andrew’s Dad that we bought Kina Girl. He knew Fraser Black through his business and recommended him to us, so we approached Fraser through that link. He sought out Kina Girl for us as an unraced pup and has looked after us extremely well since. I do all the dealing with money and stuff so I’d have most contact with him, he really does seem to be the man! He keeps us level headed and not dreaming too much, he’s very easy to work with.

In truth, we were looking around for a stake maybe at 600 yards because we think she is better over a distance but there wasn’t much in open class which is understandable with the Derby taking place. We put it to Fraser and he did explain that it was going to cost us €300 but between ten of us that is not really a lot, so that was that. You could easily argue that she was entitled enough to take her place on recent form and sure we may never have one good enough to take a chance again.”

Kina Girl landed heat 7 of the Derby on Thursday last with a game one and a half length victory over Dolcino Flyer in 30.20 when displaying huge resolve on the home-straight despite being hard pressed having hit the front off the second bend.

“It was very exciting on Thursday and although the time wasn’t spectacular, we were so proud of her. We knew she would stay the trip strongly but when you see Derby dogs coming around her at the closing bends you start to wonder if maybe this is a class too high but she went again!

I only ever missed one of her races and this is just a short trip I’m on at the moment so I will be back in time to make the second round. I didn’t even back her the other night but I have lit a candle for her in Rome. My Mam gave me €20 to light a candle out here and I said sure I have to light one for the bitch while I’m at it. It’s not quite in the Vatican, but hopefully close enough!”

Passionate about the care of greyhounds following a racing career, I put it to Declan that he now has a future top class brood prospect on his hands and he explains, “It’s not something that we had originally planned for. There was one rule when we got the syndicate going again and that was the dog would be re-homed with me when she was finished racing. We did say that if we were lucky enough to win a feature event, well then we would discuss breeding after that. The priority would be that she is well looked after and we’ll just wait and see what her career brings.”

Kina Girl has been drawn to contest heat 8 from trap 2 where she faces daunting opposition with fellow heat winners Gyp Rosetti(5), Rural Hawaii(6) and the formidable Ballydoyle Honey on her inside from trap 1.

“To tell you the truth, I haven’t studied the heat fully since I’m away and when I saw Ballydoyle Honey in trap 1, I didn’t want to look much further! But whatever comes, so be it. It would be brilliant to qualify again. That’s all we wanted from the first round and really, It’s just great to be there. She has won a heat of the Derby now and she will always have that!”

We wish the very best of luck to the Donoghmore Syndicate and Kina Girl for the remainder of her Derby campaign and beyond as she continues what has already been a highly impressive career for her caring and passionate owners.

Also Available in this week's Sporting Press and on IGB ownership webpageClick Here


Zorro continues winning run for Newmarket hurlers

Many of the syndicates featured in this column thus far have been newcomers to greyhound racing in their ownership infancy and while the White Speed Syndicate from Newmarket On Fergus do not yet claim to be experts in the field, they have quickly developed their greyhound education that will see them remain in the sport long into the future having struck lucky with their very first purchase.

In attendance at Limerick Greyhound Stadium on Saturday last, they watched their Sierra Zorro (Kinloch Brae/Money Go Easy) confirm the promise shown in her early career start by scorching to victory over 350 yards in 18.77, a time will see her rise to the very top grade of sprinting. Now consisting of five members, Martin Frawley explains that this current syndicate is a direct consequence of a larger body that previously owned the brilliant tracker Blue Cafu.

“The original syndicate was formed with a bunch of us from the local hurling club in Newmarket. It was just an idea that came up and we got twelve of us together to buy our first dog. None of us were ever involved in greyhounds before and we didn’t really know anything so we would just be asking anyone that did know for advice. We saw pups advertised by Crash out of Shanless Carol and her daughter Shanless Becky was just after winning the Corn Cuchulainn so everyone was in agreement that it was good breeding.

“The pup was about 8 months old at the time and four of the lads went down to buy him but sure none of them knew a thing about greyhounds so when you look back, we were very lucky. He stayed with Cillian Power in Waterford until Christmas when we went to pick him up which was another hysterical trip, running around trying to borrow a dog box to bring him home and the poor dog a bit nervous of us and we not knowing what to do with him.
“We gave him to Bernard Coffey for training at that stage and himself, along with his wife Helen have been absolutely brilliant. They have a great set up, give the dogs all the time in the world and we really did see the benefits with Blue Cafu. He won his first race for us but just kept improving after that, sure he was the king of Limerick," Martin laughs.

Blue Cafu with the Chasing Tail Syndicate after victory at Limerick Greyhound Stadium

Blue Cafu certainly has reserved some of his best form for Limerick where he spent most of his early career. Steadily improving throughout his first twelve months of racing, his last appearance at the circuit for the syndicate then known as the Chasing Tail Syndicate, was a remarkable 28.32 victory which prompted his entry in this year’s Irish Laurels at Cork. A first round winner there, he was eliminated from round 2 when suffering first bend bumping but he had already attracted attention from prospective buyers and the syndicate made the tough decision to sell their pride and joy who would continue his career with Pat Buckley.

“We felt it was the right decision not to refuse the offer at the time especially as five of us had already reinvested with Sierra Zorro. We had really got the bug at that stage and were already looking forward to her running so with money in the kitty we bought from our top man Bernard and it looks like we might have been lucky again.”

Martin is currently resident in the UK and home for the Bank Holiday weekend, Saturday was the first time he saw Sierra Zorro run so is understandably delighted to have been present when she recorded her first open class time.  

“We do realise how lucky we are, we really do. For a bunch of lads who didn’t know anything about the game, to have owned two dogs that went open class is amazing. We are developing our own knowledge about the sport all the time. We have a neighbour Dave Linehan who gave us great advice all along and we have many others to thank too. We just started for the craic, it was great for the syndicate to have something to look forward to after training with the Hurling club all week. We would have our night out at the track and win lose or draw we would nearly always be the loudest bunch in the place before we would all head back to the Sports Bar in Newmarket for the post mortem!”

Being in the UK, Martin couldn’t resist a trip to Wimbledon for this year’s English Derby Final where his first greyhound love, Blue Cafu had been prematurely eliminated from the first round when badly bumped but his fortunate start to ownership was again reinforced by a knowing greyhound public.

“Wimbledon was very enjoyable with the Derby roar and all that goes with it but just chatting with people there and telling them that you previously owned Blue Cafu, I was taken back by how well they knew the dog. I had people telling me how unlucky he was and saying that he could have gone a long way in the competition. It was amazing to hear how well they spoke about him, and this was my very first dog, unreal!”

“With the sale of Blue Cafu, we did well out of the first syndicate of twelve and although there is just five of us in the new one for Sierra Zorro, the rest of the lads are not gone too far away. There was a few discussions over the weekend about resurrecting the original crew to go again but whatever happens this syndicate will continue in whatever shape or form. We had Sierra Zorro bought before we sold Blue Cafu, so the bug had firmly set in and I see it continuing as a kind of conveyor belt with one ready to start as the previous runner is nearing retirement, so we are here to stay!”

Martin and all the lads remain huge Blue Cafu fans and are praying that he can reach the Bar One Irish Sprint Cup Final when he contests his semi-final at Dundalk this coming Friday. As for Sierra Zorro, he admits that he will have to talk with Bernard as regards her next step. She has reached SS0 for sprinting after her victory on Saturday but has a highly appealing opportunity to race in A3 at four bends. Having reached A2 in just her second career outing, she would be a feared opponent in that sphere and looks set to give the Newmarket On Fergus hurlers many more loud nights out at Limerick and beyond. We wish them continued success and welcome their enthusiastic commitment to greyhound racing.

Also in this week's Sporting Press and IGB ownership web page CLICK HERE


Johnros brings new meaning to Dundalk International

While most of the syndicates featured in this column will have been formed either through friendship, in the workplace or among groups of sports minded people who may have known each other for some time, the formation of the Worldwide Syndicate who own Dundalk debut winner Ballymac Johnros was a product of an on-line initiative by Louth trainer Peter Noone and consists of twenty members who had for the most part been virtual strangers!

Syndicate member Brendan Reidy of Ballyheigue explains “I responded to an advert on Peter’s Facebook page where he was looking to form a syndicate to purchase a dog. He was initially proposing a €100 outlay from twenty members that would give us a decent budget to buy something well bred. After that it would be just €5 per week which is nothing really and we make our payments through Paypal which keeps it all very simple.

Peter Noone with one of his many Dundalk winners

“We have ended up with members from all over the world, hence the name! They are mostly from Ireland but we have people from England, Sweden, Wales, USA, Pakistan and Australia. We have formed our own group page on Facebook and we all keep in touch that way, so we are not so much strangers anymore!”

Brendan himself has been reared with greyhounds as a son to John Reidy who will be well known to many throughout both codes of the sport and he along with fellow owner Darragh Sheehan, after some discussion, took on the task of purchasing Ballymac Johnros who had just passed 13 months in age before their trip to breeder Liam Dowling.

“Darragh and myself would both be involved in dogs so we saw this as a break from our own dogs and something different to look forward to at the weekend. You couldn’t find a better breeding operation than Liam Dowling’s so it was an easy choice to approach him with our spending money. He was very helpful and steered us towards what he had in our range and we are delighted with him.”

Their fellow owners must surely have been delighted with the choice also, as inspection of the pups breeding will reveal a wealth of talent that has featured so prominently in the sports biggest events in recent years. By Ballymac Vic he comes from a dam-line that has few peers. He is the first pup to race for dam Coolavanny Sue but she has the potential to be an influential brood as a daughter of super dam Cabra Dancer which makes her a half sister to stud dog Cabra Cool, Oaks runner-up Cabra Millie and breeding sensations Cabra Midget and Cabra Fifi, along with many more.

Ballymac Johnros

Brendan admits “yeah I suppose he could be anything really but he is still very young and Peter will bring him along nice and slow. We started him in a sprint at Dundalk a couple of weeks ago and we were absolutely delighted to see him win. He is only 15 months and he will stay sprinting for a while yet, just let him keep learning. The reaction from some of the members was great to see, they were over the moon and I know people will be thinking how are these ever going to see him run but there was some of the syndicate there to watch him and they did enough roaring and cheering for all of us!

“There could be any amount of improvement in him but we were very happy with the way he ran first time because he is going to be a bang railer and he won from trap 5. He ran very game around the bends with a dog on his inside and that was great to see. I can’t speak for everyone but judging from the reaction to the win, I doubt he will ever be for sale, he has that kind of priceless feel among the group already,” Brendan laughs.

“You must thank Peter on behalf of us all,” he insists. “He is doing a great job both in handling the syndicate affairs and of course with the dog. In the space of seven weeks we have a dog bought at great value to everyone, a few bob in the kitty, and a winner!”

A brief word with Peter Noone himself seemed appropriate at this juncture and revealed a forwarding thinking attitude from an innovative and passionate character with a commitment to further promoting the sport. Appreciative for the promotional help he reveals “I’m trying to kick start people back into the game, we are in need of more syndication. Some of the members we have in this syndicate had never even seen a greyhound before. We actually had 13 people in the stadium when he won his first race, that were solely there for that dog. That’s money for the track at the gate straight away, before they even spend a penny inside!”

Peter will be starting a new syndicate soon and estimates that participation could start from as little as €50. Details may be obtained from his Facebook page or at his website for Fergus Runs Kennels. As for Ballymac Johnros, he may feature on the card at Dundalk this weekend so keep an eye out for the promising young racer as we wish his International Syndicate of owners the very best of luck with their exciting and innovative venture.

This article on the IGB ownership web page: CLICK HERE

 Lismore Boy rehearses for upcoming West End show

Eagerly awaiting the start of West End Boy’s racing career, Rosies-Cantina-Syndicate of Lismore County Waterford made an impulsive decision to purchase a greyhound following a trip to Youghal Greyhound Stadium but with Mary Dalton using her organisational skills from behind the counter at Roses West End Bar, all involved remain enthusiastic about the new venture that they finance for a fiver per week!

Mary explains “we organised a night out from the pub with a trip to the dogs at Youghal. We took a bus load with us and had a great time. On the way home, our local postman Joe Tobin piped up and said we should buy a greyhound, so that was the start of it all. In the days after, the idea was still being suggested in the pub so we got ourselves together to buy him. There is ten of us altogether and all it is costing us is a fiver a week, sure it wouldn’t buy you a drink!

“All of the members would be regulars in the pub where I work so I collect the money and keep a credit union account for the syndicate. The dog cost us €1800 to start with but we have more than that again in the kitty now, so we are in good shape for small money. Pat Cronin is local to us here and he is looking after him for us. He also sourced the dog for us and by all accounts did a good job, he is very well bred.”

Named after the pub, West End Boy is indeed very well bred as a brief perusal of his bloodlines reveals that his dam Gold Supreme is a litter sister to Gold Slipalong who has sired some impressive trackers during his stud career, with early pace a predominant feature. This is Gold Supreme’s first litter with six pups by Royal Impact just beginning to start their first official trials, which West End Boy is also expected to do shortly!

“The dog will go to a trainer soon and we will let Pat decide on that too. We have put all our trust in him so far and he is doing a great job for us with some help from a local greyhound man Bill Twomey. Whatever Pat says, we go with it! Everyone is really looking forward to his racing, we are hoping and quietly confident that he could be a good one.”

A lively conversationalist, Mary’s enthusiasm is clearly evident when talking about the April 2014 whelp and wherever West End Boy ends up for his race career, his new kennel can expect huge attention from his syndicate owners who have taken their pride and joy completely to their hearts, even to the extent of a first birthday party, in the pub!

Mary laughs “we got a cake on his birthday and even had the dog in the pub, not for the first time! We had a party for the night afterwards, it was great craic!”

Warming up for exciting night’s ahead, the syndicate organised a trip to Waterford Greyhound Stadium on Saturday of last week with Mary declaring that all had a great time. “There was 18 of us in total. We organised a bus and booked in for a meal. Everyone paid €50 each and for that we got our entry, we got fed and even have enough to pay for four drinks a piece, sure where would you get it? We didn’t have to move out of our seats all night if we didn’t want to, we were waited on hand and foot. It was a brilliant night and the food was top class, you could recommend it anyone.”

With not long to wait, the one thing that can add to these syndicate night’s out will be watching their West End Boy in racing action. They will add greatly to the atmosphere at whatever greyhound stadium is lucky enough to receive his entry and we wish them the very best of luck with their new venture into greyhound ownership.

New syndicate reap Benefits of David’s Fantasy

Success in greyhound racing can be measured in many ways and it would be reasonable for any new syndicate to dream of a classic win or big pay days to fill the bank account, but it could be argued that David Griffin of Loughrea has achieved an equally laudable success through his Top-Benefit-Syndicate by ensuring the ongoing involvement of complete greyhound racing newcomers, long into the future!

Formed through friendships forged at his work with Acorn Insurance the Syndicate of eight was initiated by David for the bitch he now trains, Fantasy Lady (Vans Escalade/Zaras Fantasy). “It was my idea to start the syndicate and there was plenty of interest form the start. We ended up with eight but there is great interest throughout the whole company and there would always be people asking how she is going or when is her next race. She has become a talking point within the company and a good social outlet for many, even outside the syndicate. The members are all workers at Acorn Insurance, right up as far as the CEO but on race nights there could be over thirty supporting her with the wives and kids taking a great interest too and getting as much out of the whole experience as any of us. My own kids, Katie and Eoin could be found in the kennels with the bitch at any hour, my assistant trainers”!

Fantasy Lady & syndicate members after victory at Galway Greyhound Stadium 
Fantasy Lady has run seventeen times and returned a winner on four occasions showing a high level of ability in reaching A1 grade at Galway Greyhound Stadium. “We bought her as an unraced pup from Ian Greaves who did a good deal for us and between eight of us, it was quite affordable. She is very well bred being a litter sister of Evanta Fantasy who reached the quarter-final stage of this year’s English Derby. She won 3 races last summer and was flying in an A2 stake but got knocked over from a poor draw in the final of that and spent a good while off the track after”.

“For newcomers to the game, the syndicate were great at this time. She was off for 6 months in all and they were very patient. They know that I’d be up every morning at 5am and appreciate the work that goes into the bitch. They are not major betting people and don’t care about prizemoney. They are in it for the craic and the bitch, they have really taken her to their hearts. They were rewarded when she did return and won for us again in January. It was a busy night at the track with a fundraiser for Caherlistrane GAA and she ran great to win. That was probably the biggest support she ever had, it was a great night and for me, that’s what it’s all about. It’s very satisfying to see so many people having a great night out like that and to see new owners enjoying it so much is brilliant.”

“She had a few more runs after that but in truth she wasn’t up to her best form and I think being knocked over has affected her confidence so I’ve taken the chance to breed her. She has just returned from a visit to Oaks Road and with any luck we will have a healthy litter to look forward to. The syndicate are very excited about the new venture and there is no danger of their interest faltering while we have no races. I had suggested that we would probably sell a couple of the pups but they want to rear them all” David laughs. “Hopefully it all goes well and if so, I wouldn’t rule out a return to racing for Fantasy Lady”.

David has been in greyhounds himself for over ten years now and in just one conversation, his passion for the sport is clearly evident and he is already plotting to widen Fantasy Lady’s promotional reach. He hopes that he could possibly encourage the formation of new syndicates at other branches of Acorn Insurance around the country with ownership of pups from the new litter with the possibility of those pups clashing in future races. He believes that greyhound racing has much to offer and has not been backward in his one man marketing drive to promote the sport when an opportunity arises.

“I heard Ray Darcy on Today FM back in 2010 with a man called Dan Mooney from Limerick who was attempting to do something new every day for a year. It was called Project 366 and they were inviting people to come up with things for Dan to do, so I got in touch and asked if he wanted to be a greyhound trainer for a day. Dan said yes, came to the kennels and I had him doing everything I would do for the day. He had to weigh the dog in at the track that night and even pay for his entry”!

David Griffin  with Dan Mooney

“That was good fun and all the management at Galway and the IGB got involved. We even had a winner with my dog Forty Two Fifty which topped it all off nicely. Dan wrote a very complimentary piece about Greyhound Racing on his blog afterwards and that made it all worth while”.

David actively sells Greyhound Racing to the uninitiated at every turn possible and deserves huge credit for his continued promotion. The Top-Benefit-Syndicate can rest assured that Fantasy Lady and her progeny are in safe hands and all in the wider greyhound community will wish them well as they continue their new association with greyhound racing for many years to come. The remaining members are Paddy Byrne, Tony Raftery, Mike Conroy, Mark Lane, Keith Butler, Declan Hardiman and Stephen Hosty.

Also availible on IGB ownership page here:


Razldazl was all the Talk and in the News!

The year long ownership of Razldazlnewstalk (Kinloch Brae/Razldazl Alice) by radio station Newstalk FM came to an end earlier this month with the 2014 Irish Grand National winner set to continue his career in the UK but leaves breakfast show presenter and leading syndicate member Ivan Yates with many positive memories in what he describes as a highly successful venture.

“I was delighted when we first got the news because owning a greyhound was actually on my bucket list for a while so I was hugely interested” Ivan explains. “After the initial approach we had then been on the look out for a while and Delores Ruth was recommended to us. She and Liam Marks were very excited about the whole thing also”.

“The dog was originally called Razldazl Zar and had some great runs at Kilkenny at the start of his career before he became ours. The name was changed then for marketing and we were off! He did have some early setbacks and it was a case of getting to know what suited him best. We were learning more about him all the time, like he was definitely more suited to the inside.”

“Through the whole year I have to say the professionalism of Delores was outstanding. You couldn’t have hoped for anyone easier to work with. She would be on the phone with all the news of his general health, vets reports or offering her take on the upcoming race. It’s easy to see why she has been so successful. I went out to her kennels in Rathangan on New Years Eve to see the set up and see the dog gallop. We were a good fit because I like to have all the information and get to know the full back story”.

Ivan certainly did learn all he could about his racing star and could regularly be heard reporting Razldazlnewstalk’s fortunes on his breakfast time show. While this venture can definitely be called a marketing exercise between the IGB and Newstalk FM it was always evident that it meant much more to Ivan when fervently studying race form and offering his race analysis live on air. Keeping greyhound racing to the forefront of his listeners minds, he and all the team at Newstalk FM did much to promote the sport and indeed hurdle racing.

“It’s fair to say that he definitely reserved his best form for hurdling and the Grand National win was very exciting. He took to it very well and won the first two rounds impressively but he did it from the front so when he didn’t lead in the final it was worrying. I thought it was a brilliant performance out of him to win it from behind.”

“He won six times for us in all, the last was at Mullingar but he was disappointing last time out at Cork. With my work it was hard to go racing when he was far away so I went to Shelbourne Park to see the Cork race. I backed him three times in all and that was the first time I lost on him. I must say the facilities at Shelbourne Park are exceptional and surely as good as anywhere in the world”.

“But we had great nights out at Harold’s Cross too and everyone here got a great kick out of the dog. We had guests of the show come racing with us also and many that would never have been racing before. I think we did widen the interest in greyhound racing from what we saw. I’m sure everyone felt involved and realised that you don’t have to be hard core to a be part of racing. One of the big things for me as opposed to horse ownership is the frequency of when they run. If they are fit and well you could conceivably be racing every week and for relatively small money. I know there is plenty of disappointment too and there is the bad luck element with bumps at the bends, but that’s racing”!

Ivan admits that there will be more opportunities over hurdles in the UK for Razldazlnewstalk and he began the new leg of his career on Thursday last at Hove when being forced to settle for third place having suffered significant bumping at the early bends. He is still expected to make a big impact there however and his career will be closely followed by his many supporters in Ireland and at Newstalk FM.

Also available on and this week's Sporting Press!


No kidding the Goat in Baby boom at Tralee

Victory in the Lee Strand A2 525 yard stake at Tralee on Saturday of last week saw Baby The Goat (Droopy Scolari/Boxer Princess) continue his immensely impressive career start while also enhancing the brilliant winning statistics for the Tom Hegarty bred litter that is “the talk” of a usually football mad parish in Lissleton, Co.Kerry.

He is owned by The-big-goat-syndicate which consists of Sean Lyons, Martin Scanlon, Ian O’Carroll, Padraig Bunyan and Martin O’Mahony who explains, “we all know each other from kids almost. We all either play, or have played football for the local club Ballydonoghue but we all love the greyhounds too. All of us have been involved with dogs before but this is the first time we have been stuck in one together”.

“He was bred by our local publican Tom Hegarty of Tomaisin’s in the village. It’s a great house for the football and the greyhounds but there was twelve in the litter and he just asked one night if I would be interested in a pup. I rounded up a few of the lads fairly quick and we picked him up on Christmas Eve 2013, I’ll never forget it”!

Baby The Goat began his career with a scintillating display on his debut outing in March when a six length winner in a slick 28.79 before an extremely unlucky outing in A2 company at Shelbourne Park. He had a certain winning challenge thwarted at the third bend there but returned to Tralee for his stake win, duly proving too smart for A2 opposition when posting brilliant times of 28.68 & 28.67 to land the 12 runner event.

Members and Supporters following victory in the Lee Strand A2 525 Final
“We are over the moon with him” exclaims Martin. “It was great to win the final and you have be delighted with the way he is running. There should be plenty more to come from him too, all going well. We said we’d keep it local when it came to training him and sure Donie Mulvihill is only three miles up the road from us. He has done a great job with him and he did have us told quite early in his training that he thought we had a nice dog on our hands. He was galloping well for him and thankfully it turns out he was right”!

“We had some craic the night of the final” Martin laughs. “We took a bus load with mothers, fathers and anyone who wanted to go, there was about 40 of us. There was even some people that were never at the track before and they had a ball. Sure couldn’t we be at an awful lot worse! This is a great game and when you can get people together and have a great night out, it only makes it all the better. When you look at the cost of owning this fellow between five of us, it really is only handy money for the value and the great nights you get for it”.

The syndicate appear guaranteed of more exciting nights out with Baby The Goat who now has three wins from his four career starts and this high strike rate is mirrored throughout the litter who currently have registered 13 wins from a total of 28 races. This is a wonderful statistic with seven individual winners thus far and six of those already achieving A3 standard or better where none have raced more than six times.

“It’s great for Tom that the litter has turned out so good. I’m mad about the sire myself but you have to say Boxer Princess is a great dam. We are right in the middle of mad Coursing country down here and all of us would be coursing men too but this track litter has caused a real stir because a lot of them are locally owned, they’re the talk of the parish”!

An eye-catching name that certainly stands out on a race card, Martin explains that it can be traced all the way back to 2006. “There was a big gang of us in Dublin for the All Ireland final that year and of course we were all in great form after beating Mayo. We were having a great craic, as you would but there was a crew of Cork fans up for the Minor final and long story short, they described us in our celebrations as “a mad shower of goats”. That description kind of lingered and as Ian O’Carroll has the same name as his dad, he ended up with the nickname “Baby O’Carroll”……..and so the dog was named”!

Fervent followers of their beloved Kerry footballers the syndicate members have visited all the major venues within the GAA but now look set to follow their promising pup as he graduates to open company in his next outing with appearances in top events at greyhound racing’s flagship circuits extremely likely. We wish them every success with Baby The Goat and with full buses arriving in support, a great night out and lively atmosphere is assured wherever he turns up!

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Ballydoyle boys enjoy new racing challenge

A defeat in her fourth career outing at Limerick Greyhound Stadium for Mynamesjeff (Droopys Scolari/Kilara Cher) on Saturday last sees her still in search of a first race victory but having shown promise in all starts, she retains the faith of her six strong syndicate of young owners who certainly know a good one when they see it!

The Dont-Blame-Me-Syndicate of Rosegreen was initiated by Daragh Dwan through friendships he forged while riding work at the world renowned Ballydoyle Racing Stables. Reared with greyhounds Darragh is the only member of the syndicate with previous experience in greyhound racing and his dad Billy is well known in the sport through his Thurlesbeg prefix. Ranging in age from 17 to 21, the most recognisable of the syndicate members will be dual Irish Champion Jockey Joseph O’Brien along with promising apprentice rider Ian Queally. The remaining members are Donnacha O’Brien, Keith Bergin and his brother David who explains that he is very happy with this first venture into greyhound ownership despite not yet tasting victory.


“We are all very pleased with the way she has started. We have seen her go close a couple of times and we are definitely not complaining although it is a bit frustrating that she hasn’t managed a win, hopefully she will get one sooner rather than later. We are learning a bit more about the greyhounds all the time but even talking to some of the people on race nights, everyone is telling us that we have a decent bitch, so that’s encouraging too”.

“We all ride out at Ballydoyle and it was Daragh’s idea to start the syndicate and you better put him down as trainer too because that’s what he tells us anyway” David laughs. “The syndicate name is all down to him also and literally means exactly what it says, we were not to blame him if she turned out to be slow”!

“We are all well used to racing but this is a nice change for us from the horses and we enjoy the night at the dogs. Some of the lads had a busy weekend with the Guineas meeting at Newmarket so we were not all at Limerick on Saturday but all of us will get to the races when we can and all the members have seen her run at this stage”.

OwnershipMynameisjeff made a highly promising debut at Thurles when caught and passed in the home-straight but posting an A3 time in defeat, signalled a high level of ability on her debut. She improved to register an A2 time on her next start at Shelbourne Park but was again passed on the run to the line in another runner-up performance. David may have Daragh to guide him through the finer points of her career thus far but it is clearly evident throughout the conversation that he is gathering knowledge quickly and enthusiastically applying his racing experience to her opening races.

“We were very happy the way she ran last time even though she was only third. She’s still young and to see her look so comfortable in A2 grade after just four races was very pleasing. Trap 6 was a bad draw for her but she coped well on the outside and the most encouraging thing was that she ran all the way to the line this time, matching up well against strong runners”.

Bred by Philip O’Keefe in Kilkenny, the syndicate picked up their new pride and joy from Paul Hennesy’s kennels in February so had only a short time to wait before seeing her race for the first time in mid March. The litter has shown great promise thus far with comrade Barefoot Artist due to contest the English Derby at Wimbledon next week following his impressive career start at Shelbourne Park. However there is a further cross over between horse and hound within the litter of five as sister Sedgie is owned by a syndicate of jockeys from the Willie Mullins stable which includes 2011 Irish NH Champion Jockey Paul Townend.

The Mullins syndicate may have bragging rights for now as Sedgie has managed a race victory with her debut win at Kilkenny and has reached A4 grade in her four starts thus far. The prolific National Hunt stable will prove big rivals to Ballydoyle who have ventured back into the jump racing scene in recent months with Joseph O’Brien currently making his transition from flat rider to jump jockey. However, with the jumps campaign now at it’s seasons end, could the next big clash between Ireland’s highest achieving horse training stables come on the greyhound track?!

Irish Greyhound Board Ownership

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