MICHAEL FORTUNE: Time for TDs to stand up for their rural roots over Dog Breeding Bill

Following the dramatic happenings in the Dail on Tuesday evening and the subsequent fall-out, the Government will hardly be looking forward to the vote on the Dog Breeding Establishment Bill next week.

It is true to say that this Bill has taken on even added importance in light of the pressure which the Government came under for the Stag Hunting amendment.

It is now to be hoped that Taoiseach Brian Cowen is able to convince (or force) his Green partner John Gormley to either delete Greyhounds from the Bill or, failing that, to modify it sufficiently to placate the baying greyhound industry.

I have never fully understood or appreciated the world of politics and that feeling is even stronger now than ever before. I cannot fathom how people who feel totally opposed to certain issues yet can go in and vote in their favour! We saw plenty of that this week in the Dail.

Even more galling is the reprimand from the Minister for Agriculture for the IGB Chief Executive Officer for trying to defend the industry he is supposed to be running! Is he supposed to stand aside silently and allow the industry to be decimated by a tiny group of politicians who are bullying an army of fellow Government members?

Hopefully, more than Mattie McGrath and Michael Lowry will come forward and stand up for their rural roots in next week’s vote!

Politics aside, there was a very disappointing outcome to Tuesday’s Williamhill.com English Grand National final when Dolores Ruth’s Toomaline Jack sustained a career ending injury and trailed the field all the way. The trainer confirmed yesterday that the dog has had a recurrence of the torn gracilis muscle that laid him low last year and that his racing days are over. The race, incidentally, was won by Plane Daddy.

Let us quit the bad news issues and get on with a few positives. That leads us to Youghal Track where the July/ August Free Admission commences tomorrow night. This year the scheme will operate on Fridays with Monday now the main night at the track.

There will be a big turn-out at Youghal on Monday for the final of the Supporters Club Inter Track with supporters expected from Curraheen and Kilcohan for this first running of the competition..

Another piece of welcome news concerns the new traps which were installed in Waterford last year but for some reason has only been used for the virtually defunct 500 yard distance. I hear from Peter Fitzgerald that the traps have been moved to be used for the standard 525 trip and first impressions are that it has helped the cause of the trap one and six runners.

Of all the difficulties being faced by the greyhound industry the ‘traps issue’ is one of the most important. The lack of confidence in traps one and six has had a very detrimental effect on betting turnover. We see it race after race, night after night with dogs left stranded from the inside and outside boxes.

The new traps were built to overcome this problem but, obviously due to financial constraints, it has never been introduced nationwide. Would it not be appropriate to introduce it as the 550 yard traps at Shelbourne in time for the Champion Stakes and Derby to help improve the chances of all contenders?

The big race of the week is the final of the Track Supporters Munster Derby at Clonmel on Sunday. The likely favourite is the Paul Hennessy trained He Told You after his impressive unbeaten run to the final but a trap five draw is not ideal and he will need to be very smartly into stride.

The Thurles Fresh Milk Tipperary Cup will commence at Thurles on Saturday and we hear there is a very strong entry. Meanwhile the big one at Curraheen on Saturday is the Ladbrokes Derby Trial Stake and the fancy has to be Pat Guilfoyle’s Definate Opinion.

Another massive night is promised at the Kingdom Stadium in Tralee tomorrow when the annual Friends of Kerry General Hospital fundraiser is staged. This major event is again sponsored by Kerry Group and it is hoped to raise more than €100,000 towards the Kerry General Hospital Equipment Fund.

There will be loads of entertainment for the kids, including Bouncy Castles, Face Painting, Terrier Racing and a Donkey Derby plus fundraising draws and auctions.

There will be a particularly interesting auction for two pups which have been kindly donated by breeder Larry Keane from Ballymacelligott. The pups are a dog and bitch by Killahan Phanter out of Limerick 750 record holder Nobodywantsme and they have reserves of €1,000 and €500 respectively.

Gain Foods have come on board along with a number of prominent greyhound folk, Michael Dunphy, Noel Browne, Liam Dowling, Berkie & Patsy Browne and the Quilter Family Veterinary Surgeons and they will add the combined reserve of €1,500 to the sum raised by the sale of the two pups. The money raised by this auction will be divided between the Kerry Hospice in Tralee, the Marymount Hospice in Cork and the Friends of Kerry General Hospital.


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