Leading owner Whyte aims to retain his title

Joe Carroll


Joe Carroll

Leading owner Whyte aims to retain his title

Action from Dundalk Stadium

Picking up where he left off, Paul Whyte opened the new season at Dundalk Stadium with a winner, and by going on to bring up a double, the track's 2016 leading owner is obviously intent on retaining his title.

The Lifford owner/trainer came in with 24 winners last term, the majority of them home-bred. Tyrur Kerri, who contributed to the 2016 tally, was the first of last Friday night's winners, the daughter of Tyrur Ted putting in a powerful finish to take the opening heat of the Happy New Year 550.  

Colm Lawrence's Blackrock challenger, Danny Prince, who found a rich winning vein in December, ran another fine race to take the runner-up spot, three lengths off the 30.32 winner .

Owner Whyte completed his double with Fridays Tess winning the second semi-final. This was a much closer affair, with the Donegal runner finishing with just a short-head to spare over Tom Thought. Monraud Turbo, running for John Downey's Tullyallen kennel took third.

Carrying a first prize of €1,000, the final could go to Tyrur Kerri, who didn't get the clearest of runs early on in his semi-final, but still had the pace to run out a comfortable winner.

There were two finals on Friday's card, the first of them falling to another owner who also had a splendid 2016. Putting his faith nearly always in greyhounds bred at his Hackballscross kennel, Colm Farrelly  had Oh Suzanna running for him in the €800 decider. Taking advantage of an inside draw, the daughter of Pats King and Saint Or Sinner battled gamely to win by a head from the vastly experienced Sheikh Mahead .

Slip The Halo won the Champions restaurant final, and here's one we could be hearing a lot of this season. The Co Down-trained bitch made it three wins from five outings, coming home seven lengths clear of Lazy Aine in 28.63.

Two stakes got under way on Saturday night, one of them, the Eamon McCrave Memorial, commemorating a one-time track regular who died tragically young a number of years back.

Top performer here was Corner Jig, and inmate of the successful Kelly kennel in Coalisland. Fast away from six, the Hondo Black bitch was always in command, and she finishing with a couple of lengths to spare in 28.86.

The Fitzpatrick's Bar & Restaurant 525, a new addition to the calendar, yielded a double for Barry O'Reilly's Omeath establishment. After Burgoyne Beauty spreadeagled the field in the opening heat, Killeacle Vardy battled back to regain the lead from Abbeyville Wind, winning by a neck . The third heat went to Co Meath runner, Shelone Oscar.

*Alan and Dean Watters were done an injustice in last week's coursing report when it was suggested they were just owners of Cuine Lock, winner of the Johnny Heeney Workers' Stake at the local meeting held at Dromiskin over the Christmas period.

The local father and son combination are also trainers of the choicely-bred son of Irish Derby winner, Adios Alonso, and Oaks winner, Dale Roisin, and they hope to have the well-made black running for them at the Irish Cup meeting at the end of the season.