The ‘Let’s Get Racing 2016’ event, unveiled at Shelbourne on Saturday night, provides ready-made competitions specifically for unraced greyhounds purchased at the sales in Shelbourne on Friday August 19.
There will be an entrance fee for each stake, the one with greatest prize money will cost €50 and will be open to the 24 greyhounds which post the fastest times at the sales.
Should one become ineligible or unavailable, it will be replaced by the next fastest greyhound from the sales.
The sweepstakes will take place in September, and will have an expected combined prize fund exceeding €34,000. Greyhounds eligible for the stake are those sold through the auctions, and also those withdrawn from the auction unsold, provided the owner has paid the commission on the last recorded bid. However, as samples are to be taken at the sales, any greyhound which returns an adverse analytical finding will not be eligible to compete.
This idea has risen from the breeders’ incentive scheme, which has been discussed between invested parties and the board. The hope is that the move will regenerate interest in sales, which have suffered heavily over the past number of years. It is also hoped that breeders will be encouraged to bring a better class of greyhound to the sales, thus also encouraging more buyers to the auctions.
There is also a belief this initiative can instil confidence in the existing and would-be breeders to ensure they remain within the sport. Ambitiously, the long-term goal is to help save tracks from closure and alleviate the problem which racing managers currently face in filling cards.
I’m not inclined to get carried away with such ideas, but potentially having open-class unraced pups at the sales should generate some excitement, and if it works, it could achieve another of its ambitions – to generate overseas interest in the sales.
It all sounds good in theory, and how it is executed will make for most interesting viewing. Hopefully it won’t be a case of loopholes being exposed just so greyhounds can qualify to run for the money. It should be about more than that.
The numerically stronger breeders are likely to benefit and the success of the sales depend upon their participation, but it’ll be interesting to the percentage of smaller breeders getting involved. This is for them, also. I expect, if this is to work, we will be flooded with advertising of the sale over the coming weeks.
Monday’s bank holiday meeting at Youghal proved another great success, but the most pleasing aspect of the evening was the poignant success in the final of the featured Droopys Stud Champion Stakes of Oaklands Paddy, who was formerly owned by the late Billy Dunne.
Dunne, who passed away recently, was a great supporter of the track, winning numerous races with greyhounds trained by Denis Fitzgerald.
This dog, also in the care of Fitzgerald, did his late owner proud, and went unbeaten through the three rounds of this stake, for which he saved his best for the final, posting a seldom-seen sub-29.00 run.
It was the 26th victory of the near-veteran’s career.
The draw for the opening round of the Irish Laurels will take place at Curraheen Park next Tuesday afternoon, with the stake itself getting underway on the following Saturday night. Again, there is a winner’s prize of €30,000 and, as has been in place for a few years, the bitch which advances furthest in the competition will receive €3,000. Entries close at noon on Monday next.
The Jerry Hennerty Memorial Unraced Stake is traditionally the hottest novice stake of the year at Curraheen, and it will again take place over two rounds to correspond with the semi-finals and final of the Laurels (July 9 and 16).
Hot on the heels of that competition, will be the inaugural running of the Connolly’s Red Mills Unraced 525, which gets underway on July 30. Thirty-six runners are being sought and the winner’s prize is expected to be €6,000.