LIAM Dowling is continually in the doggy headlines both locally and nationally, as a breeder, owner and trainer, and, indeed, he was the man who bred and trained the winner of last Friday night's feature event at Tralee Track, the final of an A2 500yds sweepstake sponsored by Kasko Dogfood (winner, €1,100). But it wasn't all about Liam on this occasion, for the very good reason that his sister, Jane, happens to be the owner of the winning greyhound, Miss Mitsy (Ballymac Maeve - Ballymac Mitsy), which created something of an upset at odds of 4/1.
Presiding over it all was another member of the Dowling family, Declan, who is the head honcho at the Oakview venue, and that made it a pretty complete family affair.
The 5/4 favourite in the final was the Millstreet-owned Hidden Style, but she didn't break all that well and, after coming in contact with Millridge Paddy on her outside at the first bend, there were adverse knockon consequences for Bitter Impact and Ventry Belle, as well as for Millridge Paddy himself.
These traffic problems meant that the two greyhounds up front rounding the bend, the fast-starting Shoshoni Joe and Miss Mitsy, more or less had the race to themselves. Miss Mitsy ran the back straight to such effect that she was a length and-a-half in front rounding the third bend and that was enough to give her victory by half a length at the line from Shoshoni Joe, with two lengths back to Hidden Style. The time was 27.59, which was an improvement of twelve spots on her semifinal run.
Trust Liam Dowling to achieve things like that – and, of course, much more significant things at a higher level!
Also on last Friday night's Tralee programme were three semi-finals of an A1 525yds sweepstake which is acting as a fund-raiser for Mounthawk Basketball and which is offering a winner's purse of €1,500.
The fact that just two qualified from each semi-final heightened the stakes and the honour of recording the fastest time belonged to Boss Man (Droopys Scolari - Cover Up), which Padraig Regan trains for Michael Harty, of Causeway.
The leader off the first bend was Horse and, bearing in mind how this fellow had run on in the previous round, he looked very much the one to beat. However, Horse surprisingly compounded as the race progressed and was overtaken by Boss Man rounding the third bend. Padraig Regan's charge drove on powerfully to score by two lengths from 6/4 favourite, Boher Be There, in 28.70, with the same distance back to Horse, which, of course, was eliminated.
The second semi-final saw Boxer Princess, quite surprisingly, weaken in the betting from 1/2 to even money.
That may have put some people off, but, if it did, it was a real opportunity missed, because this August ' 09 daughter of Head Bound and Dianas Ranger, which Patrick O'Connor trains for Tom Hegarty, of Lisselton, totally dominated the race. She flew to the first bend from a trap 1 draw and, with her main market rival, Boher Express, encountering serious traffic problems, she came home more or less alone, four lengths ahead of a reserve, Lisnakill Vijay, in another fast time – 28.83. Boher Express was a further four lengths back in third place.
In the third semi-final, Jeffs Scolari was obviously regarded as a no-hoper, being up on the boards at 10/1, but the one great thing about greyhound racing is that everything has a chance, obviously depending on the break, and, in this instance, Jeffs Scolari (Droopys Scolari - Jeffs Fox), got the timing perfectly right from trap 4 and wounding up winning by a length from Mossend Apollo in 29.08.
Running for the local father and son combination of Jimmy and Tony Griffin, Jeffs Scolari led off the first bend from even-money favourite, Coyote Ridge, and Mossend Apollo. Coyote Ridge, which had clocked 28.68 in the previous round, looked as she might take control when challenging Jeffs Scolari between the last two bends, but she was forced to very seriously check and actually wound up in fourth place.
Very much to the credit of Jeffs Scolari, he kept the gallop going to the line and provided the nicest of results for the layers.
The final takes place this Friday night and the draw is (trap order): Lisnakill Vijay, Boss Man, Mossend Apollo, Boher Be There, Jeffs Scolari, Boxer Princess. The vote goes to Boss Man.
A terrific double on the supporting programme last Friday night was recorded by John Sugrue, of Cahersiveen, with Fermoyle Fantasy (31.57, 570yds) and Fermoyle Bound (29.19, 525yds), while the other winners were Voltagesensation (29.38), Kielduff Peppa (18.21), Ring A Chris (29.40), Skybound Bella (18.14), Southern Sign (29.48).