Sunday 22 October 2017

Greyhound Racing: Keeping owners happy is name of the game

There was no escaping the greyhounds for me. My father Mickey bred the great bitch Lady Tico. He was involved with Brendan Matthews and I used to go to the coursing meetings with them.

I wasn't the best for school and gave up on college after three months. I went to Pat Buckley and spent two years there but it was always in my mind to train dogs.

I learned a lot with Pat. You have to have things right, so we built a new kennel block which has 17 kennels and put in a 350-yard all-weather gallop which is virtually outside the back door.

We are based in Clogherhead, Louth, alongside the beach, which we use for galloping. My father has retired and helps me out while my brother Graham works on the oil rigs in the North Sea and is over for two weeks every month and he also helps out.

But I have great owners in John Donnelly, Tommy McKevitt, Larry O'Rourke, Nick Savva, Pat and John Flaherty.

I have my licence three years and Friday's win with Ballymac Matthew was the biggest yet. It was terrific and John Donnelly made it over from Motherwell – only just after the ferry was held up! I wasn't surprised with the win as I reckoned if he could lead Bulmers Baby he'd win.

John bought both Matthew and his brother Ballymac Patrick from Liam Dowling and aimed them at the Unraced Sprint at Longford. Matthew got the cough and was more backward than Patrick but he really took off when winning his semi-final in 17.50 and did everything wrong in the final but came from behind to win.

Originally the plan was to go for the Drumbo Puppy Cup but we hadn't a lot of work done with him and we rerouted him to Harold's Cross.

It is now all systems go for the Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup at Dundalk and I will give him one run beforehand, in an Open 350 on June 30. The 400 at Dundalk is tough and if he was to go to the final of the Sprint Cup he'd have five hard races. I want him fresh for it.

He had a small scare last week when he split the top of the web but it is only minor and we'll clear that up as a priority.

I have a few other nice dogs. Lynwood Peter has won his last three at Drumbo and will go for the Derby there and Lynwood Bolt is back after breaking a hock in the Puppy Derby last year. I also have a few nice College Causeway pups out of Greenwell Club.

Our bitch Westmead Sue produced a litter of three dogs and four bitches to Top Honcho on Sunday night. The ambition is to win the Derby but any Classic would do and it would be fantastic to win our local one, the Sprint Cup.

But the main ambition is to keep my owners happy. The game is not easy but neither is any other business. There are loads of knockers but they should realise people just don't have the money and hopefully things will come around.

l Craig Kelly from Clogherhead, Co Louth is one of Ireland's youngest trainers and yesterday celebrated his 23rd birthday.

Irish Independent

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