Properly produced TV can do a lot for Irish racing

We’re still in the exploratory zone for what television can do for Irish Greyhound racing, but Tuesday night’s programme from Wimbledon, which aired on Sky Sports, was another good example of how high-quality racing and a good production can showcase much of what’s great about the sport.

Irish interest and the English Derby aside, I don’t tend to spend much time on British greyhound racing – there’s more than enough at home – but it’s hard not to be drawn to night’s like Tuesday, when the Puppy Derby and the Leger feature on an extended programme.

It was great to see Lenson Sanchez, trained in Ireland by Pat Buckley for English owner Len Ponder, run out a very impressive winner of the puppy final. The Leger, run over 687 metres, went to Roxholme Dream in good style. English support of the Night of Stars is crucial to its existence and survival, and it’d be great to see this bitch travel for the 750.

Also on Tuesday night, the Centra Irish Grand National got underway at Harold’s Cross. There wasn’t a great deal of luck for the Cork raiders in the first round of the stake, but the next best thing was a positive result for high-profile hurdling recruit Razldazlnewstalk.

He is owned by the Newstalk Breakfast team, which is headed by Ivan Yates and Chris O’Donoghue, and his travails have received plenty of air time on the radio station.

Trained by Dolores Ruth, he went to within 10 spots of the track record on what was his debut over the obstacles, following which he was cut to 1-3 favourite for the €3,500-to-the-winner event. The semi-finals take place tomorrow night at Harold’s Cross.

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Following that awful incident a couple of weeks ago, in which 11 greyhounds were found dead following a ferry crossing from Ireland to France, the IGB made a press release on Friday to stress the importance that all involved in transportation of greyhounds understand their legal obligations when undertaking same.

These are all set out in a document available on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine website. On the same afternoon, the IGB also revealed that a new and very useful section had been added to their existing website, from which almost all rules and regulations in their jurisdiction are available.

The new area, called the ‘Resource Centre’, provides content and links to wide-ranging and very important information under a number of categories, including ‘Greyhound Welfare’, ‘Anti-doping and Medication Control’, ‘Rules and Guides’, and ‘Licences’.

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Yesterday’s Irish Examiner paid worthy tribute to the late Joe Walsh, former Minister for Agriculture, but it’s also important to acknowledge his passing in this corner.

Although I didn’t have any dealings with him on a personal level, I spoke to numerous people in the greyhound industry who did, and it’s widely understood just how much he did for sport in rural Ireland, and how approachable he was.

He always looked favourably upon greyhound racing and horse racing, and did much for each during his time in office. Our sympathies go to the Walsh family.

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There will be no racing in Youghal track tonight, as the winter season kicks in. Racing will continue every Monday until the springtime and, as mentioned last week, there may be additional races to accommodate greyhounds which would not qualify for this card. Next Monday’s card is a case in point, with 10 races.

The track is also in the process of hiring a new groundsperson/hare driver to replace Gavin Hodnett, who has left the position to take up a vacancy elsewhere. I’d like to wish Gavin all the very best in his new role.

As the track is in a transitionary period, there will be no trials on Tuesday mornings until further notice, but trials will continue as normal on Tuesday evenings, beginning at 6.30pm.

Saturday night’s meeting at Curraheen is a benefit for Ballyclough GAA. One of the disappointments earlier in the year was the fact the Macroom Motor Services Stake did not fill and, hence, did not take place.

They have been very good sponsors at the track for many years and thankfully have not been lost. The pre-Christmas Open 575 stake, worth €3,500 to the winner, will now be run under their banner and the heats will take place on Saturday, December 6.

Tomorrow night in Tralee, the semi-finals of the Red Mills Unraced Bitch Stake take place, while Saturday’s programme is a benefit for Rockchapel GAA.

The highlight of the weekend’s racing is the final of the Gain Select Stakes at Waterford, for which new track record holder Paradise Maverik is the 7-4 favourite. The feature event is one of five final on the 10-race card.

The Kerry AgriBusiness St Leger semi-finals will take place in Limerick on Saturday night, with Burgess Oscar representing Cork interest for the Killeagh kennel of Sheila Spillane and J J Fennelly. In an open list, following Droopys Nidge’s exit, Vulturi is outright favourite at 7-2.


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