While a draft report into the controversial greyhound race run at Dundalk Stadium three-and-a-half years ago has established that the greyhound that won in a near record time was not the one whose name appeared on the card, it doesn’t say who the ringer was.
To recall: the fourth race on the 2009 June 15 card was a low-grade affair. Mays Hurryonboy, running in the name of Waterford owner, May Aylward, and handled by an unlicensed trainer, Tyrone Downey, from Newry, ran from trap five and was on his début.
According to the card, Mays Hurryonboy had had just two trials, one over the sprint distance and another a 525, in which he was well beaten, recording a time which just about qualified him to race.
Betting on the race was low-key but there was enough support for Mays Hurryonboy to cause his price to contract from 5/2 to evens. This writer reported on the race, noting that No 5 was “fast away; well clear down the back; wins with mouth open.”
The dog, in fact, won by 13 lengths and in recording 28.41 got to within .01 of the track record. His improvement on his trial of three weeks previously represented a distance of some 34 lengths. Quite extraordinary, even allowing for the fact that most greyhounds show an improvement on trial times when they have their first outing.
While suspicions were raised, no action was taken by the stewards on the night and the dog was allowed to leave the track. Had he not been, his identity could have been checked through examination of his ear-marks (tattoos which are applied to all greyhounds soon after they’re born). That would have brought connections of the ringer into the equation, and left it necessary to hold just one investigation.
But while no inquiry was held on the night, Dundalk management was concerned and the following morning notified Bord na gCon of what had happened. The first of a number of investigations was then initiated by the Board.
It proved, however, to be far from thorough - for one thing, failing to examine the video of the race and, more crucially, not interviewing two key members of the tracks panel of stewards, Gerry Kerley - who was on duty on the night of the race in his capacity as judge - and Jim Martin, Dundalk Stadium CEO.
The Board, in closing the case, reported that “all investigations of a ringer being introduced into this race are vehemently denied and no such information emerged at any stage of the investigation.”
Dundalk management wasn’t satisfied, and decided to do its own investigations with the help of the Irish Coursing Club, which handles the registration of all greyhounds. Their disclosures were presented to Bord na gCon, who then decided to hand the matter over to its control committee to investigate. The control committee twice forwarded details to the Gardai, but each time were told it wasn’t a police matter.
Bord na gCon then asked Frank Melville, a former prominent greyhound official in Britain, to investigate, but Melville was not made aware that the matter primarily concerned a ringer (an imposter). He was of the opinion the investigation only concerned a greyhound showing extraordinary improvement on his trial times.
On presenting his report, Mr Melville recommended that a new investigation be established. Bord na gCon then set up another three-person committee, whose draft report was presented late last year but did not come into the public domain until extracts from it were published in a daily newspaper last week.
Dundalk management did not receive the report, which established that Mays Hurryonboy was not the dog that ran at Dundalk on June 15, 2009, nor did Mays Hurrryonboy run the trials he was credited with on the card; that there had been other scams similar to this one, and that Bord na gCon had not thoroughly investigated concerns raised by the Dundalk management.
While officials on duty on June 15, and others, were named in the report, the person or persons who provided the ringer (quite obviously a dog of Classic potential, given the time it recorded) has gone undetected.