The race for leading owner at Dundalk Stadium is hotting up. There are about a dozen meetings remaining, and going toe to toe at the top of the leaderboard are local man, Colm Farrelly, and Donegal’s Paul Whyte.
Both have been successful in the past, Farrelly’s kennel long established as the area’s leader. He’s a trainer/breeder as well as having all of his charges registered in his own name, and already this season has sent out the winners of 32 races, nearly all of them having first seen the light of day at Hackballscross.
That’s the same number of winners accrued by Whyte, who, after what was to him a lean spell, hit back with a vengeance last weekend, registering a treble. Farrelly replied with a single, Bourbon Country scoring in a 400.
Whatever about the owner title, Lifford-based Whyte is certain to take one of the two trainer awards. He’s on 37 winners in the ‘private’ category, 26 clear of Tullyallen’s John Downey.
The tussle for the public trainer gong has three main protagonists, Damien Maginn (35), Derry-based Willie Mullan (31), and a former winner, Martin Lanney, who’s on 30.
There’s a first prize of €2,200 on offer in next Friday night’s Friends of Dundalk Stadium 525, and the odds on it going to a County Tyrone owner are short. The Red Hand has three representatives, two of which were semi-final winners.
Michael Corr’s Coalisland runner, Express Wish, justified favouritism with a 28.88 win, while Verrazano went faster, clocking 28.77 for Dungannon’s Aiden Cullen on his way to a five-length success.
Verrazano went from an unsuited trap six, and as he has drawn one, the chances of him taking the final are far from remote. The son of Swift Hoffman is taken to lead home the field.
The line-up is: 1. Verrazano (Aiden Cullen Dungannon), 2. Geedee Allstar (GeeDee Racing Syndicate, Dublin), 3. Kernon Ben (Ailish McKee and Lewis McKee, Craigavon), 4. Express Finish (Michael Corr, Coalisland), 5. Rockview Puma (Liam Woods, Downpatrick), 6. This One Time (Michael Farrell, Strabane).
There were just 16 races down for decision at Dowdallshill over the weekend – one was abandoned due to a mechanical failure – and only two local owners registered a win, the aforesaid Farrelly and Togher’s Michael Doyle.
California Chrome is trained by Doyle and owned in partnership by him with Catherine Johansson, and in slamming an A3/A4 field in Saturday night’s top race this most genuine sort brought up his 16th career win, clocking 29.06 for the standard distance.
The Dundalk & Dowdallshill coursing meeting will this year be run over three days. This is because the local outfit is facilitating the Balbriggan club in the running of their fixture. Both club’s usual programme of events will be run on December 26, 27 and 28 at The Commons in Dromiskin.
Balbriggan’s usual running grounds are not available to them this year, and rather than forego this fixture - which has been Co. Dublin’s only one for some time and has proven itself highly popular over the years - they have joined forces with their North Leinster neighbours.
It won’t be the first three-day fixture to be staged at Dromiskin. Back in the 1980s, the Dundalk & Dowdallshill club ran the usual two-day fixture on St. Stephen’s Day and the day after, and then on the third day ran four 16-runner stakes, facilitating dogs that had failed to get an entry at the main meeting.