Racing at Dundalk Stadium on Friday took place behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The bookmakers who normally stand at Dundalk Stadium won’t be sorry to have missed last Friday afternoon’s race meeting. With favourites winning six of the seven races, this definitely was a bullet dodged by the men with the satchels.
And of course the reason they weren’t shouting the odds is because this was another meeting at the venue to be run off behind closed doors. While the vast majority of sports have been banned due to Covid-19, both horse and greyhound racing are allowed to go ahead in this country, but with mainly only the animal handlers and jockeys in attendance.
What happens when there are no bookies in attendance is, the big betting firms’ prices, up from early in the morning, come more into play. They are there for punters who bet on account. Who the arbitrator is I don’t know, but when all the betting is finished, it is this person - or maybe persons - who decides on the starting prices, taking into account the volume of support for each runner.
Five races had been decided, four of them going to the first market choice, when there was an unfortunate incident, Gavin Ryan, who had ridden the first winner, getting unseated from his mount, Guild, early in a 1m 4f race.
Because the young apprentice was still receiving treatment on the track when the field came around for the second time, the race had to be halted and voided. The two remaining races were run off, and in keeping with the day’s trend, went to the favourites.
Aerclub was the most impressive winner of the afternoon. Trained by Henry de Bromhead, who is better known for his exploits in the National Hunt game, the County Waterford handler having scored a double at this year’s Cheltenham, Aerclub was winning for the second time at the track. It could be there’s more to come from the son of Charm Spirit, whose jockey, Wayne Lordan, went on to complete a double.
That night’s dog racing, it, too, watched by only officials, reporters and handlers, provided in-form Carrickmacross trainer, Laurence Jones, with another winner. Women’s Terri, owned by Louth-based Rowland Foley, was on his first track outing having previously raced at Enniscorthy, and he impressed, showing good pace to the bend in a 400 and going on to win in 21.54.
There was also a win for the Quinn kennel in Dromiskin, Tammen Trooper benefitting from a drop in grade to score a fourth career win. Owned in partnership by trainer Ambrose Quinn and Martina McCann, the well-bred black scored by just over six lengths in 29.01.
David Dunne, whose kennel is also based in the Dromiskin area, saw his Rafferty Says open his account on Saturday night’s card. Having his fourth outing, the son of Taylors Sky and Glow Dubh led early on, was then passed but came again to win by just under a length in 29.54.
Rafferty’s litter-brother, Le Bugue, looked good to complete a family double when he flew from traps in a 400, before building a lead which he carried well into the home straight. But it was just shy of the line when Eugene and Owenie Duffy’s dog was caught by the Derry runner, Blackstone Alva.
Better luck for a couple of other Louth runners, Forest Superior making it three from four in a sprint for Tullyallen’s John and Rita Downey, and Nice White Paws enhancing an even better record.
Michael and Tommy Webb’s home-bred Termonfeckin tracker, recent winner of a novice stake, was on her first 525 outing and she looked good, coming late to score in 29.11 and keep her unbeaten run going.