It’s Ours! A delighted Sylvester McGhee, Donegal, shows his delight after Ardnasool Jet crossed the line a winner of the Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup final for the second time. (Pic: A Dullaghan)
Greyhound racing at Dundalk Stadium in the season just ended was notable for a number of features, not least the outstanding winner each of the venue’s feature events produced. There was also the publication of the track’s history, and the dominance exercised by trainer Damien Maginn in graded fare.
Ardnasool Jet was outstanding in the 2018 Bar One Irish Sprint Cup, losing out just once in the preliminaries and then holding on stoutly from Broadstrand Kiwi’s late challenge in the decider.
That was in August: just over seven months later, the Donegal Dynamo was back to defend his crown, having in the meantime taken the €10,000 on offer for the 360 at Shelbourne Park’s Night of the Stars and being named sprinter of the year.
The son of Droopys Jet was even better this time. He went through the competition unbeaten, overcoming an unfavourable trap six draw in the process, and in the final recorded his best-ever time for the 400. More than that, the dark brindled became the first to successfully defend his title. A better short distance runner hasn’t been seen in the Dowdallshill track’s 16-year history, and maybe not at The Ramparts before that.
Priceless Blake came to the track for the July 12 International having won the English Derby on his most recent outing, but was still a 5/1 chance. Ballymac Arminta was the 5/4 fav, and after that the best priced was Killmacdonagh, who had trumped Ballymac in the Oaks final at Shelbourne earlier in the season
Killmacdonagh did it again, and with some style. The Cork runner came home almost five lengths ahead of Priceless Blake, with Ballymac back in third. Her performance was as good as any seen in the 51-year history of the race. She later attempted a unique double by adding the Irish Derby to her laurels. Final night brought her no joy, however, but did nothing to impinge on her glowing reputation.
Damien Maginn ended his Dundalk season with 80 winners to his credit. That’s a phenomenal total, one that no other previous winner of the trainer title has come close to. While the number of runners he’s had over the season is not at hand, the guess is his strike rate is equally impressive. No champions among his scorers, just hugely consistent performers well turned out.
Your writer was responsible for the greyhound section of the book, the history of Dundalk Stadium, launched at the beginning of this month. The hope is that it continues to sell well.