IT'S nearly Christmas party time and dog tracks all over the country are heavily booked as greyhound racing nights out offer great dining in a great atmosphere. It's a fun night, and most people who have not been to the dogs before are really amazed how great a night out it is and really enjoy this entertainment with a difference.
Waterford track on Saturday night last saw diners enjoy some superb racing with the semi-finals of the Select Stakes featured. Unfortunately, local interest ended as 'Eabha's Fantasy' took the first semi in 28.74 for trainer Seamus Graham while the second semi went as expected to 'Razldazl Rioga', owned by Micheál O Muircheartaigh and trained by Dolores Ruth who also had the second, 'Mildean Tally'.
A great final will be run this Saturday night and the winner will receive a nice €13,000 prize.
The first race of the night went to Barntown trainer Nick Turner as 'Cruisen On True', owned by Robert F. Bennett (England), was scoring his sixth win when breaking well from his trap three box. His early pace saw him clear down the back. However, 'Crucial Diaby' was making eye-catching headway into the third bend but he was not quite able to get to the game winner whose time was 29.15.
On Friday night Nick was also on the mark when his bitch, 'Miss Camelot', made it three wins on the bounce when she again came from behind. Making good headway down the back straight, she got on terms with leader 'Black Jool' at the third bend to go on to score a snug win in the semi-final of the A3/4 Bitch Stake in a time of 29.66.
Another Wexford owner to enjoy a follow-up win was May Murray (Wexford town) when her 'Ebony King' ('Droopys Scolari-Millies Return') put his superior early pace to good use to lead around the first bend.
Although he was challenged down the back by 'Kenwood Head', 'Ebony' asserted himself and raced to a clear win, his second straight win, in a time of 29.40.
Newbridge was again a happy hunting ground for the Ferns kennel of Brendan Murphy and Carol O'Connor as the ever-reliable 'Rockmount Eagle' did it again for his 15th victory when taking the A1 550 in a good time of 30.07.
This son of 'Westmead Hawk-Rockmount Flo Jo' is able to know exactly where the winning line is and times his challenge to perfection. Coming from off the pace to score is always more exciting for the owner, and the team was only a length shy of a double when 'Jayos Pride' was beaten by good bitch 'Loyal Prospect' in an earlier race.
Kilkenny saw another Co. Wexford winner when Cecil Willoughby (Gorey) saw his 'Clover Cruiser' score a nice win in heat two of the A2/3 Stake. 'Clover' is a son of ' Royal Impact-Clover Petal' and showed his toughness to score in a troublesome race, recording a time of 29.84. Maria Byrne is the trainer.
Some notable runs were witnessed at Enniscorthy on Thursday night last. The best was from the Seamus 'Shanks' Whelan-owned 'Piercestown Buzz' who scored his 15th win when coming home a clear seven lengths ahead of his field in a fast time of 28.78. Son in-law Ronnie Shinkwin is the trainer.
Owners Dermot Flynn and Luke Kavanagh (Enniscorthy) had the quickest winner in the first round of the A2 Stake when their 'Ko Phi Phi' ('Killahan Panther-Tag Along Rosie') scored her sixth win when leading and holding on to score in 29.06.
Old boy 'Welesbourne Dan' scored his 33rd win no less when showing the young guns how it's done at the ripe old age of five and a half (May '07). This son of ' Razldazl Billy-Kilcloney Wine' has run 125 races and won 33, with 37 seconds and 21 thirds.
A lot of them were open class races. What a servant this dog has been for trainer Thomas Leahy and owner Damien O'Connell from Co. Cork.
It's back to Waterford this Saturday night for the final of the Select Stake (Masters) which is the big feature event and also the two semi-finals of the St. Leger from Limerick will be live on T.V. - another feast of top-class racing for us all to enjoy.