Dog chat: Charity gift Dogsbody can continue upward curve
There was a time when virtually every middle-distance event on Irish tracks was run over the then-standard 525-yard trip, but if current plans come to fruition then we will have reached a situation where there will be no top-class Open event over the distance at the sport's headquarters, Shelbourne Park.
The trend started back in 1986 when the Irish Derby was moved up in distance to 550 yards and Kyle Jack was the first dog to win the premier Classic over the trip.
Then in 2008, the Easter Cup was shifted to the longer trip, with Tyrur Kenny becoming the first winner of the early-season feature run over 550 yards.
It is now very much on the cards that the forthcoming Tote Gold Cup will also be moved to 550 yards, having been run over the 525-yard trip since its inception.
It means that the Irish Oaks, which is confined to bitches, and the National Puppy Stake are now the only two major 525-yard competitions at Shelbourne.
Open class male trackers are not eligible for either of those events.
The final details of the Shelbourne Tote Gold Cup are expected in the next day or two, but it has been advertised as having a €20,000 winner's prize and is due to start on Saturday, February 26.
Meanwhile, the first major Saturday meeting of the year at Shelbourne will be staged this weekend when the final of the Tyrur McGuigan Open 575 will be backed up by the semi-finals of the Joe Dunne Memorial Puppy Stake.
It will be a special occasion for Ballymacelligott trainer Liam Dowling, who has three of the six finalists, among them the clear-cut favourite General Dogsbody.
It would be a fantastic result if this dog landed the €5,000 prize as he is a charity greyhound that is running purely for the Kerry General Hospital.
He was given as a present to the hospital by Dowling for the length of his racing career and already he has earned substantial money for the fund. If he keeps running as he has been doing since his arrival at Shelbourne, then he could be challenging for much more serious prizes as the year progresses.
Elsewhere this weekend, the semi-finals of the Vetsearch International Kennedy Cup will be run at Limerick on Saturday, while the same night the second round of the Guinness Trophy will be run at Cork.
Prior to that there is a big programme on offer at Clonmel this evening, with the final of the Open Unraced Stake a big attraction. This prestigious prize can be claimed by the Seamus Whelan-owned Piercestown Sand.