Coursers make the switch from collars to covers at Dundalk Stadium, writes Joe Carroll.
Coursers, you could say, got down to the mechanics of it last Friday night. The heavyweights of the greyhound game are not usually seen out at this time of the year, but having chased live bait up the field over the winter months, 18 of them lined up for the opening round of the Lenny McKinney Stake at Dundalk Stadium, hunting the dummy lure.
And real heavyweights some of them were, tipping the scales at upwards on 90lb. That’s bulky for tracking, which sometimes has runners two-thirds that weight competing.
The heaviest of the winners was Duleek-based Feede Lee, and 83-pounder. Seamus Murray’s dog wasn’t among the first to show, but had the pace to get into contention by the time they reached the bend.
The son of Kyle Leigh went on to just get the better of Coolree Kash, with She’s Ours, owned the O’Donnell boys, Niall junior and senior, among the qualifiers.
Fane Aiseydaisey, running for Stephen Gollogly, from Keady, was fastest of the three heat-winners, covering the 350 in 19.34. This lassie went to the bend faster than most track-breds would do on their debut, but she was hard-pressed to hold out for a photo-finish win from Cash To Burn.
Jamaica Jinger, the most experienced in the third qualifier, made up good ground to win by a half-length from Heated Moment, running for Paul Matthews’ kennel, which one of the best-known in the Newry area.
The semi-finals of the €1,100-to-the-winner stake, sponsored by well-known greyhound transporter, Lenny McKinney, take place this Friday night.
The graded section of Friday night’s card had its highlight in yet another emphatic performance from Blame The Game. Winner of the Irish Sprint Cup consolation final, the son of Laughill Blaze was a 2/5 chance and won accordingly, finishing just over five lengths in advance of Highway Rizon. Blame The Game’s trainer, Martin Lanney, is banging the winners in left, right and centre of late, this being one of a couple of winners at the track over the weekend.
Downpatrick trainer, Damien Maginn, is another in form; and Colm Lawrence is getting a nice return for his select Blackrock kennel, Onyx Rock winning for the third time on his fourth outing on Saturday.
Matt Ginnitty, Paul Murtagh and the rest of the Aintree Crew Syndicate had an overdue win with Aintree Dasher on Friday night. This Oliver Fitzpatrick-trained black rarely runs a bad race, but until this outing was getting it difficult to add to his winnings. He won from another mid-Louth-owned runner, Paul McDonnell’s Gangster, who enjoyed no luck over the course of the 525.
There was also a mid-Louth flavour to Iconic Buzz’s smart 400 win on Saturday night. John Durrigan trains for former Louth GAA referee, Michael Hughes, and the daughter of Romeo Recruit won with plenty in hand in 21.56.