IT is always nice when a greyhound you’ve been fancying right through a sweepstake delivers on final night, and so it was with Tullig Cyrname in the final of the Lee Strand A3 550 Sweepstake (winner, €6,500) at Tralee Track on Saturday.
Needless to say, trainer Pat Buckley wasn’t there to savour the victory, being over in Towcester with his runners in the English Derby, but Pat was well represented by his wife Pauline, and daughter Sarah. And for the winning joint-owners, Morty Ahern and his father, Patrick, of Templeglantine in Limerick, the victory had to revive memories of the wonderful victories achieved by Patrick in the Rose of Tralee Sweepstake finals of 1974 and 1976 with Tullig Master and Tullig Champion.
To sweeten it brilliantly for the Ahern father and son partnership, they bred Tullig Cyrname (Droopys Sydney – Hail Cleopatra), with four dogs and two bitches in the litter, and Morty said afterwards that he would now like to see Tullig Cyrname getting a rest period before aiming for bigger things at Shelbourne Park.
“This is a very prestigious event here in Tralee and we are absolutely thrilled to have won it,” he said. “I was slightly concerned watching our fellow going into the opening bend, but once he got on the rails I was very confident that he would go on to victory. Not alone does he have great pace, he is very intelligent as well and it’s nice to have one like this going forward for you.”
Tullig Cyrname was, of course, going for a remarkable seven wins from seven career start and Berkie Browne sent him off the 4/7 favourite (from 1/2). The best start was achieved from trap 1 by Trowmedownsumtin, which moved quite wide on the run to the opening bend, and Tullig Cyrname, which ran from trap 4, did really well to get in front of Millridge Jayden (trap 2) into the bend and claim the lead off it from Ballyroyal Gatti and Trowmedownsumtin.
That was game, set and match. Tullig Cyrname, despite the best efforts of the John Kelliher-trained Ballyroyal Gatti behind him, established clear control on the back straight and, driving home with tremendous power, he hit the line four and a half lengths ahead of Ballyroyal Gatti in a brilliant 29.53 (.10 fast), with a length back to Millridge Jayden which won a very tight battle for the third spot and the €1,200 that went with it (the runner-up prize was €2,800 and the fourth, fifth and sixth won €600).
In the absence of Pat Buckley, Tullig Cyrname was paraded by his wife, Pauline, and she enthused about the victory afterwards. “He just keeps on doing everything right,” she said.” He’s only a September pup, remember, and here he is tonight brilliantly winning seven on the trot.
“We’re just blessed with the greyhounds we have in our kennels and, for sure, we have had a lot of good nights here in Tralee. You just hope to stay lucky, don’t you.”
Completing a pretty memorable night for Pauline and Sarah Buckley was the fact that another of their greyhounds, the Scottish-owned Flashing Willow, broke Ballymac Sexton’s six-year-old 325 record of 17.17 by clocking 17.12 in beating a great runner-up in the Chris Houlihan-trained Seomra Nate by two and a half lengths in 17.12.
Yes, the going was .05 fast for the sprint distance, but that doesn’t count for record purposes and there was no happier person at the Oakview venue afterwards than Sarah Buckley, who paraded the brilliant Flashing Willow.
“I know my father has enjoyed a lot of success here and he won five races on the night of this year’s juvenile classic, but this night beats them all in my opinion,” said Sarah.
Lee Strand wasn’t entertaining in the lavish way it has done in other years, with Covid obviously a factor, but a great crowd, including a sizeable number of French tourists and some Ukranians staying in the local Earl of Desmond Hotel, who were present on the invitation of the track’s Sales and Operations Manager Declan Dowling (fair play to him for that), contributed to a great atmosphere.
Three sweepstake finals, all very generously sponsored by Lee Strand, supported the big one and the winners of them were the Ardfert-owned Mystery Bolt (17.75), the Maurice O’Connor-trained Post Blue (29.06) and the Glin-owned Solid Serene (30.73 for 570yds).
Other winners were Maglass Sydney, 18.15; Millroad Dash, 29.39; Action Jackson, 28.98; Monabricka, 28.75; Blake Outlook, 29.12.