Sunday 22 October 2017

Greyhound Racing: Oaks the next dream after Derby delight - Robert Gleeson

For greyhound racing in Cork, the Laurels is the biggest event of the year
For greyhound racing in Cork, the Laurels is the biggest event of the year

Robert Gleeson

I am only beginning to realise what it means to train the winner of the Irish Derby. It is unbelievable and the reaction of people is just amazing.

You don't realise it on the night of the final, it is only when you visit other tracks in the weeks afterwards that it comes home to you. We paraded Slippery Robert at Mullingar and Longford in the last few days and we spent the nights shaking hands with people who were genuinely pleased for us.

You realise how lucky you are to be a Derby winner. I have won a Derby with my first finalist and my neighbour and friend Reggie Roberts has been in the game for 50 years, has had four Derby finalists but has never won one. It makes you realise what a part luck plays.

I took out a licence when I was 20, just five years ago, but my dad had a licence and it was all set up for me. He had a lot of fast dogs and won the Connacht Derby with Wincy Spider in 2005. So I had a kennels at my disposal, I just walked in and we also had some good owners.

The problem facing young people starting out is getting their hands on a few good dogs with good breeding. However, very few people can now afford the ridiculous prices being asked for promising young trackers.

Training greyhounds is a good life if you like being kept on the go but it isn't good from a social side. You start early in the morning and you would hardly be back from the meetings until midnight. You then let the dogs out and you wouldn't be finished until 1.0 or thereabouts.

I spent six years in Knockbeg College. I could have gone on but I didn't fancy working in an office so it was into the dogs I went and I certainly don't regret it now. Since winning the Derby I have already had a few people on to me from Cork and England asking me to take a few well-bred trackers and they will be joining me soon.

We have 15 kennels and so I have room for 15 dogs apart from the brood bitches and the pups. At the moment I only have seven in training and I am very lucky to have Larry Dunne and some other very good owners.

But we have plenty of dogs in the place as there are litters by Droopys Maldini out of Woodhill Spark and another by Brett Lee out of Kildallon Maid.

I got Slippery Robert from Larry at 13 months but Larry and Aidan Finnegan had done a lot with him. We will keep Slippery Robert on the go.

He will go for the Night of Stars and then we'll put him away until the Easter Cup. I have Robert's litter brother Slippery Paddy and he's another fast dog but he had an operation on a toe and he is difficult to get right.

We have Aclamon Messi in the Puppy Derby and he is a nice dog but is having little luck in the draw. We also have a litter brother of his that we hope to run in the Future Stars Stake at Enniscorthy.

I have been asked a few times since the Derby what is the ambition now.

It would have to be the Oaks and it would be lovely to win it with a bitch you bred yourself and then to keep her for breeding. That would be nice.

* Robert Gleeson is a 25-year-old from Rathangan in Co Kildare and recently trained Slippery Robert to win the €125,000 ETS Irish Greyhound Derby final at Shelbourne Park.

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