'Ricky' fulfils O'Hanlon's England ambition
Leonard O'Hanlon has always had an ambition to have a greyhound contesting the final of a major competition in England and tonight he will achieve that target when Ballymac Ricky contests the final of the ECC Timber English Laurels at Belle Vue.
"I always wanted to go to England with a dog but never had anything good enough," said the 27-year-old from Dunshaughlin. "We used to buy dogs at the sales but they were never up to something like that. I had a useful dog a few years ago for John Duffy and Wesley Savage and they came back to me and said they would like to get involved in a better type of dog.
"I contacted Liam Dowling and, fair play to him, he gave me a list of dogs that were available and we bought Ballymac Ricky. A few of the boys were at Belle Vue the first night of the Laurels and I believe there are seven or eight of them going over on Wednesday. They are great lads and they'll have great craic."
Leonard has always had a leaning towards the greyhounds and while at school he worked part-time with Ian Reilly and then spent time with John McGee.
The idea of having a go at the English Laurels came about when Ricky ran a blinder on Derby final night at Shelbourne when a four-length second behind Must Be Jack in 27.99, which meant he was clocking a flying 28.27.
"I was talking to Ginger McGee that night and he mentioned he was bringing a few dogs over to Belle Vue for the Oaks and the Laurels and it started me thinking. Anyway, we gave him a trial and then he ran in the first round and qualified. He ran very well in the semi-final last week and he has drawn the inside box in the final".
O'Hanlon is pleased with the draw for Ricky and added: "I actually think the middle box is best at Belle Vue but if he can make a good start in the final he could well lead into the back and would then take beating.
"We had a bad journey home on the boat from the semi but, because of the bad forecasts, I am thinking of travelling early this time and giving him plenty of time to recover.
"We backed him at 40/1 each-way after the first round and it's a nice bet to be sitting on now."
The ECC Timber Laurels is, of course, sponsored by leading Irish owner PJ Fahy and he has Tyrur Caroline in the final of the ECC Timber English Oaks tonight.
She is being trained for the event by Charlie Lister and she has a major chance of lifting that prize. Caroline has a lovely draw in trap two and will be strongly fancied on the evidence of her form in the classic
The Laurels final will be shown on Sky Sports at 8.33pm, while the Oaks decider is due off at 9.08pm.