Last week, the Irish Greyhound Board announced a much-needed, across-the-board increase in prizemoney.
At the new levels for a standard race, taking only the grant money and no supplementary sponsorship into account, the maximum purse for a winner is, as from the second of this month, €375 (up from €300), which goes to a greyhound successful in an open-class distance race or an open hurdle.
As has been the case for some time, the level of prizemoney depends upon the grade and the distance, but the increase announced is 25% at all levels.
The winner of a four-bend race at the top level (AA0) will earn €362, and a sprint winner at the same level (SS0) will get €300.
At the other end of the scale, an A10 winner will get €200, an D8 winner €250, an S10 winner €187, and the smallest return of all goes to the winner of the lowest-grade hurdle (S4), earning just €175.
Over four bends it’s A4 grade at which the prize money first goes above €300, and that, I feel, is a minimum requirement for an owner, given a greyhound’s monthly fees will, most likely, exceed that figure. Not too many owners get involved in the sport believing they’ll make a profit, but a sporting chance of paying the monthly bill with a grader once in a while has got to be an attainable goal.
The announced increase is not going to attract new owners into the sport but if it has the effect of keeping current owners in the game and, perhaps, persuading breeders to persevere a little longer, it will have achieved something.
It’s certainly a positive for the sport, though the next step must be to ensure there are enough greyhounds in training to fill cards.
One track which shouldn’t have too many concerns on that front is Clonmel, whose Clonmel Greyhound Shop Guys & Dolls A3/A4 stake was remarkably oversubscribed, a move which has resulted in management making the decision to run another stake to take up some of the slack.
The original Guys & Dolls Stake gets underway tomorrow night with eight heats, and the winner will receive €2,600, with €1,000 for the runner-up.
The additional stake, the Coursing Week A3/A4 Guys & Dolls, begins on Sunday night, with four first-round heats, and will have a winner’s prize of €1,500. Anyone who believes you cannot get dogs for competitions should take a leaf out of Clonmel’s book.
More importantly, Sunday night’s card at the track features the second round of the Red Mills and Track Supporters’ Club Open Unraced Stake. As expected, last week’s heats unearthed some potential stars.
The trial times of litter brothers Razldazl Ri, Razldazl Tierna and Razldazl Duke, all trained by Dolores Ruth, hit the headlines in the past few weeks and their presence in the opening round commanded plenty of attention. Two of the three made a winning start, while Razldazl Duke, who boasts a 28.12 at Shelbourne Park, was the only one of trio to suffer defeat.
Razldazl Ri found some trouble around the opening bends, but produced a telling late surge to get up on the line for a head victory, in 28.95.
Razldazl Tierna had no such issues, as he quickened off the second bend and stretched right out to win by a wide margin, in a best-of-the-round 28.53.
Although beaten, it was easy to see why Razldazl Duke was the fastest of the three in trials. He stumbled badly at traps, was last early, but displayed pace into the turn. He was a little short of room there, but caught the eye with his back-straight before running up the back of a rival. That should have put him out of the qualifying positions, but he battled gamely to take third place behind 10 -length winner Colarhouse Jim.
The three Razldazl runners are March pups by Royal Impact out of Razldazl Alice, who was an Oaks finalist in 2010. She finished fifth behind Dalcash Dvinsky, with reigning champ Skywalker Queen in second place.
The tight-railing Broadstrand Post, trained by Johnny Linehan, was another to make a deep impression in the first round.
Last early, the March pup showed a terrific turn of pace from halfway to take up the running at the third bend, and then pulled clear in 28.73.
The only bitch to make a winning start was Thomas and Mary Buggy’s Kilgraney June. She proved unsuited to the wide draw, but had the ability to overcome it on her way to a 28.96 victory. There’s certainly better to come, but she hasn’t been done any favours by the draw for round two.
As has become customary, sponsors Red Mills will produce a video of each round, and last week’s action and reaction is available through the Connolly’s Red Mills YouTube channel.
Also available on the channel is a previous kennel visit which the Red Mills team did with Matt and Frances O’Donnell. In the week when Matt passed away, it’s a nice feature to be able to look back upon. It was filmed just days after Skywalker Puma won the Derby but, unsurprisingly, it’s O’Donnell’s first Derby winner, The Other Toss, who seems to have been the apple of the trainer’s eye.
At Curraheen Park, the Guinness Trophy is only a couple of weeks away. Thirty-six entries are being sought for the €3,000-to-the-winner A1 event, and entries close on Tuesday January 19.
The heats take place on Saturday January 23.
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